Friday, November 30, 2012

Cooking with Kids

It takes a special kind of crazy to want to make something with kids. Fortunately for the Raisin, I'm just that kinda nuts. This morning Thing 1 went to school and Thing 2 had to go see the doctor, leaving Thing 3 (the Raisin) alone with Nanny Cait. We tried going outside, but after a trip to get the paper and check the mailbox, her little lips were blue and she was shivering too hard to even say yeah when I asked if she was ready to go in. (And she was dressed in tights, leggings, fleece pants, wool socks, boots, snow pants, a turtleneck onesie, a sweater, a jacket, mittens and a hat. Poor  kid looked like a pink starfish!)

So in we went, warmed up with a couple of stories under a blanket and then the wiggles struck. The Raisin is not the world's most snuggley child. She's a girl of action, and today she came up with her own plan. Knowing her twin was at the doctor, she told me, "Doodle 'prise make." This, for those of you not fluent in toddler, meant that she wanted to make a surprise for the Doodle. The smile on that girl's face when I asked if she wanted to bake cookies was amazing.

I find it's easiest to bake with kids if everything is pre-measured and set up. I put flour, sugars, butter, etc. in bowls, pulled out the Kitchen-Aid and brought a chair over to the counter. The Raisin asked about each individual ingredient. I let her touch a bit of flour and sugar so she could feel the difference, then taste a grain of sugar and a grain of salt. We talked about safety and why it's important to always bake with a big person- at least until you're old enough to be a big person. Lectures over, we began pouring the ingredients one by one into the mixer. The Raisin is a very careful girl and managed almost everything without spilling. The vanilla extract dripped a bit and I was dusted with a cloud of flour when she turned the mixer on high right after adding 2 cups to the bowl, but other than that there were no casualties.

The tough part, but also an awesome teaching opportunity, comes during the actual baking. I won't let the girls eat the raw cookie dough because of the eggs, so patience plays a HUGE part in this project. Not to mention the fact that the cookies are too hot to eat when they first come out of the oven. The Raisin handled this like a pro. I gave her the timer and sent her into the playroom with the instructions to come and let me know when it dinged. Exactly 10 minutes later she danced her way back into the kitchen to let me know I should take the cookies out. I told her to pick a really long song to sing and then the cookies would be cool enough to taste, so she sat down by my feet and sang Baby Beluga all the way through. Didn't stop once to ask for a cookie! When she was done, I picked her up and let her choose which one she wanted. And what did she do? She picked up a cookie, kissed me on the cheek and asked, "Cait want cookie yes peas?" Nanny Cait was proud!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Because I Like a Challenge

I want to be all kinds of crafty. I love doing arts and crafts projects, sewing, knitting, crocheting  etc. The only problem is I suck. Well, that and I lack the will to follow through.

I've recently (at the beginning of September) started a new project. I'm using a Knook to make an infinity scarf. The basic idea is that you knit with a crochet hook. I've got about 3 inches of finished work to show for all my effort. At this rate, it really will be an infinity scarf...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dear Washington

Congratulations on making it through another election. To the newly elected, way to go. You've got a tough job ahead of you, and I wish you all the best.

I know that some of you are already looking ahead to the 2016 campaign season. Sure, the actual election isn't for another 4 years, but it's never too early to start planning for that 6 month frenzy of campaigning, right? As you think about your strategy, let me point out that you do, in fact, have over 3 years to plan. That means you should be prepared to answer questions and present your platform. With a well thought out campaign there really should be no need to stoop to attacking your opponent. Please, use your time wisely.

While planning your campaign, please remember that you are running against a fellow American, not some faceless villain created by Hollywood. It has been said before and is worth repeating, in a campaign one runs against an opponent, not an enemy. Why then, is it accepted for politicians to openly attack each other during an election year? What kind of an example are these politicians setting for the school children who run for class office each year? Do you realize that, on average, Romney and Obama spent 88% of their campaign funds on negative advertisements? That translates to an average of roughly $380 million dollars saying the other guy is icky. You're adults. Act like it.

Instead of wasting time telling me how terrible your opponent is, why not spend a little time telling me how good you are? Or encouraging citizens to register and vote. So many men and women have fought battles to bring us the democratic freedom that most people take for granted. Imagine the reaction of the American public today if only white, property owning men were allowed to cast a vote. It is an honor and a privilege to be allowed to participate in such an important decision. You could use your influence to get more of the public to the polls.

Another thing: I know you're rich. We all know it. You've got a lot more money that I ever will. Stop wasting it on TV spots, radio ads, billboards and the like. Why not spend it on something that will make a difference? Here's an idea: a lot of you like to go pose for pictures at local soup kitchens. Why not just give the soup kitchen a whole bunch of money? Maybe you were a Girl Scout or a Boy Scout, a member of a social service club or organization? How about getting a group of kids from that organization to volunteer at the soup kitchen. You can even stand next to them in the same t-shirt and smile for all the reporters. I bet the undecided voters would respond to that a lot more favorably that all those annoying phone calls you have people making. And I know they'd appreciate you a lot more for doing that than buying ad space to tell us how terrible your opponent is.

Speaking of undecided voters (and swing states) are you people aware of how much money you shell out for such a small percentage of the vote? Now, I know this is really just the two main presidential candidates, but really. You're supposed to be well educated adults. Both Obama and Romney spent $36 million in Colorado alone trying to win all of 9 electoral votes. I may not know a lot about politics or economics, but I can assure you that this makes absolutely no sense. And again, most of this money was spent telling the fine people of Colorado that the Democrats think the Republicans are icky  and vice versa.

That's pretty much all I wanted to say. See you at the polls in 4 years.

P.S. I'm not crazy enough to believe any of the politicians in Washington will take the time to explain campaign spending decisions to me. I don't even really expect this "letter" to make it onto anyone's radar. I would, however, encourage you to think about what we're letting politicians get away with. As voters we've been allowing these negative ad campaigns to grow to the point where they're so full of hatred and animosity that it's a wonder anyone's had any desire to turn on a TV, open a news paper or listen to the radio over the past 6 months. With social media being what it is, friends have turned against friends, family members are no longer speaking, lines have been drawn and sides have been chosen. A friend of mine from Europe compared this presidential election to the Civil War where brother took up arms against brother. While that may seem a little melodramatic, she had a point, and I'm embarrassed to say that this is what our country has become known for. Isn't it time that we put an end to this? I may be idealistic, but I think politicians would be stupid to ignore their public, the people who vote them into office (and yes, I do know that it's actually the electoral college that puts the president in office, but still...)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What is Democracy?

I know some of you have tried to explain today's events to kids. At lunch the Ladybug's mom and dad left to vote and she asked me where they were going. I tried my best to explain, and I even used props.

I told LB that Mama and Dada were going to the school by the little church so they could vote.

LB: What's vote?

Cait: It's when you pick something. Like when you and the sisters all tell me what song you want to hear and then we listen to the one that most of you want to hear.

LB: Oh, I like that. But only when you play my song.

Cait: Well, big people like voting when the person we want to be president wins.

LB: What's president?

Cait: Right now it's Barack Obama. You remember who he is, right?

LB: From the book?

Cait: That's right, from the book (we have a copy of the book that Barack Obama wrote for his daughters.) If he wins, then he gets to be president for 4 more years, but another man, Mitt Romney, wants to be president, too. So they're asking all of the big people all over the country to help pick who gets to win.

LB: Mitt is like mitten.

Cait: Yes, it is. Do you know what the country is?

LB: Yes.

Cait: Really?

LB: No.

At this point I pulled out a handy dandy State Quarters map that just happened to be on the kitchen table.

Cait: This is the country that we live in. It's called the United States of America. There are 50 states all together.

LB: Is that a lot?

Cait: Does it look like a lot?

LB: Yes.

Cait: Do you know which state we live in?

LB: Yes.

Cait: Really?

LB: Vermont.

Cait: Good girl. Vermont is all the way up here. Now, each state gets to pick one person to be in charge. That person is called the governor. Right now our governor is Peter Shumlin.

LB: I know.

Cait: Really?

LB: No. I love you, Cait.

Cait: I love you, too. Now, one person gets to be in charge of all of the states. That person is the president.

LB: Like Mama and Dada and Cait.

Cait: Um, sure. Now, when we vote today, everyone from every state gets to say who they want to be president. That's what voting is. Do you remember the two people who want to be president?

LB: Barack Obama from the book and Mitten from the hat.

Cait: Close enough.