When my parents left for Portugal, they left behind rather a lot of salt. Popcorn salt, coarse salt, pickling salt and several lifetime supplies of table salt. There was some joking about preserving the "family salt"; keeping it and passing it down for generations to come...
But then I recalled that homemade playdough uses a lot of salt and decided that this would be an ideal opportunity to introduce Elizabeth to the joys of modelling. We don't allow wheat flour in our house so I found a gluten-free playdough recipe online (my favourite source actually has a whole series of playdough recipes both gluten-free and not; as well as edible and non-edible) and duly poured 1/2 cup of rice flour, 1/2 cup of corn starch, 1 tsp of oil and a cup of water into my pot. I added 2 tsp of cream of tartar (this apparently makes the playdough last longer - I suppose it could be omitted if you weren't planning to store the dough), and started stirring.
"What about the salt?" My husband asked, who was watching with interest. Whoops! Luckily it wasn't too late to add it, although Brendan was disappointed by how little salt the recipe called for. I gather he had visions of significantly reducing our salt stockpile rather than the 1/2 cup it actually needs.
It took a bit longer than the advertised five minutes, but eventually my dough came together in a beautifully white lump of modelling clay. And then I realized I should have already added the food colouring. Luckily we were able to work the colour through the dough after the fact. It took about 12 drops of green to get the colour I wanted and I was really pleased with how the dough even felt like the "real" commercial playdough. Except for being nice and warm from all the cooking...
We tried to get Elizabeth to actually make something but quickly gave up and concentrated on learning not to eat our art supplies. She loved watching mom make worms and dad make snowmen, and kind of caught on to the idea of poking finger holes into the dough. But mostly she just liked the feel of the dough, spending quite a long time shredding it and then packing it all into the container and then taking it out again and shredding it again.
I was very glad I opted to make my own gluten-free playdough instead of buying some because otherwise I would have been poisoned for sure. We were still picking bits of dough out of her (second) set of clothes and under her fingernails hours later!
Continuing my back-dating ways. Yesterday (Jan 24 2010) Elizabeth woke up from her afternoon nap crying and continued pretty much continously for five and a half hours. She was so miserable. Then she farted and was perfectly happy again. THIS is the stuff my mom neglected to tell me about parenthood...
Here's Elizabeth learning the way of "infant massage" at Baby Sensory this week. Note how she is rather far away from Mommy, who figured that holding down screaming child on her back in order to learn massage techniques would rather defeat the purpose. Elizabeth's a strange mix of clingy due to fairly extreme separation anxiety and happily independent. Grandma J thinks the secret is that the independence has to be Elizabeth's idea rather than Mommy's idea.
So I'm looking for ideas on helping Elizabeth cope with being looked after by others. It's not that I want to abandon my child to strangers; it just would be nice if she wouldn't wail like the world is ending when Mommy needs to have both hands free (or even an hour to herself!). Daddy, Auntie Janice and Grandma H are acceptable in a pinch but with Grandma H in Portugal it would be nice if Elizabeth would learn to play nicely with a few more people!
Elizabeth has learned several new skills this week, mostly in the How to open cupboard doors and Unscrew sippy cup lids departments. Good thing that we don't give her juice!
The observant will notice that although this entry is dated the 18th, I'm actually posting it on the 22nd... We're still all recovering from Elizabeth's fourth cold which she kindly shared with both mom and dad, as well as the craziness that was seeing Grandma and Grandpa H safely off to Portugal! They have arrived by the way - Grandpa H's facebook status read Tuesday morning: "Made it to Porto with almost all our luggage ;) "
She was as good as gold (maybe in the hopes Grandpa would keep feeding her his yummy sweet potato fries?). We were very impressed with the restaurant. Both the service and food were excellent! They even gave us a private room so that Elizabeth could roam around (or scream!) without needing to worry about it. That didn't turn out to be an issue but we really appreciated their thoughtfulness.
Elizabeth also had her first lemon, which she just loved. Some of these shots are really blurry but the expressions are too funny to keep to ourselves.
Sunday night marked the last "Sunday Dinner" with our whole family for a while as Grandma and Grandpa H head to Portugal for a year's worth of language training prior to their deployment as career missionaries in Angola with MAF.
We will miss them.
My New Year's resolution is to visit all of our local museums, but I'm hoping to avoid spending a lot of money in the process. Luckily, Ottawa's library system has family museum passes available that you can take out in order to get free admission to many of our local museums. Actually, a google search reveals that many libraries offer free passes to local museums!
The passes tend to be in hot demand so I placed a hold request on a couple of them. The Renfrew county museum network pass (hold #15) came the next day, while the Ottawa Museum network pass (hold #623) came within five days. We're still waiting for the Museum Privilege card for the Museum of Civilization (hold #2618). I rarely sign up for items with such long wait times (thinking I'd be waiting several years), but it looks like the high number of holds shouldn't be a deterrent for museum passes as they have quite a number in circulation and the pass can only be kept for a week at a time.
When our first pass arrived, Auntie Yukiko, Erika, Elizabeth and I were all set to check out the Billings Estate Museum but it's actually closed this time of year. Lesson learned - check the visiting dates as well as the hours!
We ended up at the Vanier Museoparc instead. It's located just down the street from the hospital where Elizabeth was born but even so it was a little bit challenging to find (buried inside the Vanier community centre). Sadly, we didn't end up needing our free pass since the museum doesn't charge admission in the first place. We actually only saw part of what the Museoparc has to offer as it purportedly boasts the only sugar shack within the city limits but you have to reserve with a group of at least 15 people. The grounds outside also look like they'd be fun to explore... in the summertime. The actual museum consists of a only few rooms. Yukiko and I found the presentation of the area's history interesting if a little on the skimpy side, Elizabeth appreciated being able to crawl around and Erika nearly got us kicked out when she leaned against a "wall" that wasn't solid, knocking down part of the exhibit.
I was surprised to learn that Vanier is a relatively new name (the area was called Eastview until 1969). You can still see local businesses with the Eastview name but I had no idea that this had any relevance before our visit. Yukiko was surprised to learn that Governors General could be male. I found the assumption that our Governors General are always female extremely cool. We live in a country where women were not legally "responsible adults" until 1978, but a mere five years later our first female Governor General was appointed and now Canada has had a female Governor General continuously in office since 1999!
Erika was interested in the adult potty chair, which, if you can believe the captions, was apparently still in use in the Vanier area in the early 1900s - after our house and hers was built! I'm a little suspicious of the dates in the captions though since I thought one of the panels stated that Eastview changed to Vanier in 1921. (My inlaws were able to set me straight as Grandpa J was actually in Ottawa when Eastview still existed.)
If you are going with children, the best part of the museum is the three electronic quizzes located just outside by the elevators. The panel that asks you to match the picture of the bird with its corresponding bird call was a huge hit; Elizabeth and Erika were just fascinated. We probably spent at least as much time hanging out in the hall as we did in the museum proper!