Monday, October 22, 2012

Swamp Gunk: A Little Halloween Project That The Kids Will Just Love

Isaac and I spent a fun time together on Saturday afternoon. He had his heart set on making some slimy, swampy, gooey gunk. It's all about Halloween these days. I think part of it was his wanting to have a special one on one time with just me and him. 
This book, The Ultimate Book of Holiday Kid Concoctions by John and Danita Thomas, one out of a series by the same title has been well loved and well used over the years with our children. This "Swamp Gunk" always seems to make at least one appearance a year. A craft and activity that I've also used with our homeschool co-op groups and Cub Scouts.

Here's what's to like:
1. This little project has that cool, creepy appeal that kids gravitate towards. Especially boys for some reason, I've noticed. They'll think you're the coolest mom on the block.
2. This little project makes learning science fun. Following directions accurately... Mixing a solution... Liquids magically transforming into something solid to hold in your hands... The wow factor...
3. A relatively inexpensive way for a kid to create something fun to play with that doesn't need to come from a store. Except, of course, the household ingredients which can be easily gathered, impromptu style around the house.
5. An easy way to create a fun memory of time spent at home together; especially as the days get too cold to play outside. We're all for that around here.
Let's get down to it, shall we?
It's good to gather everything together on your work surface.
(We moved upstairs to my sewing table for better light.)
Here's what you'll need:
1 small mixing bowl
1 larger mixing bowl
1 large liquid measuring cup (at least 2 cups)
1 cup measuring cup
1 cup white glue (Elmer's school glue works great)
2 T. liquid tempera paint or 7-10 drops of food coloring
1 cup water
1 1/3 cup warm water
4 tsp. borax laundry booster (look for it on the cleaning aisle.)
a spoon to stir
a rubber spatula is nice, too.

Start out by making Solution A.
Measure out your 1 cup of glue.

Dump it into the smaller bowl along with 1 cup of water and the food coloring.
For the slime effect, you've got to go with green. Totally. A little yellow added would give it even more of a creepier effect.
Proceed to stir until you think it's fairly mixed. A little tricky to get the glue to completely dissolve. Don't stress. Just do the best you can.
This completes Solution A. Set aside.

Now for Solution B:
In the larger bowl, mix 1 1/3 cup warm water with the 4 teaspoons of borax until completely dissolved. Set aside.
This completes Solution B.
Okay, now you are ready to proceed to the magic moment. The moment we've all been waiting for.
Here we go.

Slowly pour Solution A (glue solution) into Solution B.
Do not stir or mix!

Now, take your hands on the sides of the large bowl and give it a roll, swish,  or a twirl. Whatever you want to call it. Do this about 4 to 5 times. You want the watery solution to totally encompass the gluey mass.
Let it sit for a few minutes. Don't get impatient and pull it out too soon. The slime needs time to solidify and kind of "coagulate" together.
(Does the word coagulate gross you out like it grosses me out?)

The ah-ha moment has finally arrived! Plunge your hands into the bowl and gently lift up the mass of slimy glory.
Cool is an understatement here.

Form it into a ball with your hands. Squeeze out the water. Knead it a little bit. Play around with it.
Show your family. Let them touch it. Share the joy and wonder that's now yours in letting that mad scientist - creative genius part of you shine through.

Obey your mom when she says that the slime can only be played with on a solid surface with no carpet in sight.
(We've seen too many unfortunate carpet and couch mishaps throughout the years. Believe me.) 
Another little hint from our own experience: Make sure that when you're done, put it in the air-tight storage container so it doesn't dry out.
Happy Concocting, y'all!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

more autumn lovelies

I'm learning that it's a good thing, a very good thing, to always have my camera nearby and at the ready. With all the loveliness of this season, I just can't help myself. 

Like yesterday, as we were passing through the neighborhood of where I was born and lived for a (much too brief) time in my early childhood, we drove by a street that literally took my breath away. These quiet, tree lined streets blazing in all their glory. So, naturally, I (the kids know me and my crazy, impulsive ways by now) urgently sped around the block, found the perfect spot where I needed to be, slammed on the breaks, parked the car, and stood in the middle of the street to somehow try to capture it all. 

The neighbors probably thought I was nuts.

It seems like every time I'm out and about, I literally let out an audible, contented sigh for it all. This utter beauty that I can hardly contain in my soul.

And don't you just love Eliza's new boots? So fall-ish.

Monday, October 15, 2012

in the last little bit

The kids and I have been enjoying the slower pace of these last few days. They've been out of school since Thursday. We've welcomed this little "Fall Break". The latter part of last week brought days that were extra damp and a little chilly, and with them, we've just enjoyed the simplicity that comes with time spent cozily at home. 

Today was beautiful and perfect. Just right for getting outside to enjoy this last day together. This glorious, luminous autumn day.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

ready, set, GO!

Well, I guess I'm officially a student. Yes, my massage therapy studies started on Tuesday. I made my back-to-school debut in style. 

(And with a great big smile on my face. The best accessory of all, don't you think?)

This is how you'll find me Monday through Thursday nights. Totally rocking the black uniform shirt, the black pants, even some new black Sketchers shoes.

It's all about getting into a professional mindset, they tell us.

I've got all my supplies, too. 

This is all part of the excitement, my friends.

All outfitted with my towels, a nice down filled blanket, sheets for my table (which comes in a few weeks. Whoo-hoo!!), as well as the oils and lotions that were provided to all the students.

And all these textbooks that I'll need to find shelf space for.

There are nineteen of us in the class. They say we'll become a family. I guess it would be impossible not to, being with these people for a whole year four nights a week. Studying and learning together. Giving and receiving massage to and from each other. 

I'm finding that I'm the oldest in the class as most students are in their twenties. Maybe I'll become sort of a mom figure, but I have a feeling we'll all learn from each other. Be there for each other. Growing to trust one another. This means a lot to me.

Our program will last a full year. Course work will include the following: (the first four classes rotated this first quarter)

  • Core (massage theory, technique)
  • Professional Development
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Reflexology
  • Pathology for the Massage Therapist
  • Acupressure
  • Shiatsu
  • Cranial-Sacral therapy
  • Sports Massage
  • Russian Sports Massage
  • Movement and Structural bodywork
  • Trigger Point Theory and Rehabilitation 
  • Business Mastery
  • Clinical Internship (starting in the spring)
I really don't think most people have any idea what goes into becoming a massage therapist. I'm especially intimidated with the huge emphasis and work that will be involved with the anatomy classes, but I keep telling myself that if anybody can learn it, I know I'm just as capable. (That's what I would tell my kids, anyway.)

I'm just so excited for this new journey I'm setting out on. I just love to learn. I love to help others. I love the idea that I have the potential to literally change people's lives. To be able to influence others (and this includes myself) on such profound and immediate way, whether it's on a physical, emotional, or spiritual level. That is just so meaningful to me and it feels very right for my life's mission, purpose, and fulfillment. To, hopefully, become a living example and role model to my kids on achieving goals, working hard, following their dreams, and the value of an education. (This is huge.) If I could teach them anything, this would be near the top of my list in my role as their mother.

So I woke up yesterday, the morning after my first night at class with that feeling in my heart like a child anticipating Christmas morning, or a trip to Disneyland- giddy, excitement, and sheer joy filling my heart. That experience laying in my bed like that was a gift.

But with all these feelings, there is transition that is taking place. Trying to wrap my brain around the idea that my presence in the evenings will no longer be felt here at home with my family. Their adjustment to this, as well as mine, will take some time. It's not an easy thing to do, even and despite the fact that nothing will really change in my daytime routine. Still at home most days, still on call for my kids, still volunteering, continuing the work as a homemaker and mother...

Also, the transition to being in a student mindset. Reading, assignments, tests, exams, being graded, not being tardy... Wow, it's been twenty two years since I've been in this place. I know it will take some stretching. Getting out of this place that's been my comfort zone for so long. It will take endurance and faith and courage when the days seem challenging and long. 

Can I do this? 

Through it all, I know I'll need to hold onto the commitment that I've made to myself. The vision I have for who I am and my place in the world. The gentle nudging I felt deep down in my soul from a loving, understanding, and generous Heavenly Father. The door that was so miraculously opened for my growth. The belief and support from my loving family and friends. 

Oh, how I'll cling to this.

So I say "Yes!" and "Thank you!" to this wonderful, growing opportunity that's mine.

Onward and upward, I say!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

we gather, we remember, we honor, we love

Memories of Grandpa...

Alzheimer's is a cruel disease. How frustrating it must have been for Grandpa to lose himself in a fog of forgetting. Our memory defines us and shapes our character. It's my job to remember Grandpa now. To remember him bent over, nailing in the floor planks for our newly constructed home. To remember how he let me comb his hair and even style it with my toy curling iron. To remember that he held me and loved me. Grandpa, I will always remember you, and can't wait to meet you again.
~ Jane

When I was a baby, Grandpa would hold me on his lap and say: "Grandpa-Grandpa-Grandpa!" in a funny voice. That made me laugh and laugh. I would try to imitate him, but I couldn't say "Grandpa-Grandpa-Grandpa", so I would say "Bodger-Bodger- Bodger!" I used to say that all the time, and everyone started calling me "Bodger". That became my nickname because of my Grandpa.

If there is one person who I wish I could get to really know, it would be my grandpa. I want that so bad, since I know what an amazing, wonderful man he was. My memories of Grandpa are just random tidbits, but they are all happy ones. He was so happy to see me, and would love to listen. Even in his last years when he was going through such a tough time, he would love to listen to me, smiling up at me from his bed, as I told him about basketball or my life or whatever; even though he wasn't really understanding. I know he was happy to just listen. I love my grandpa and always will.
~ Sam

One of my favorite things about Grandpa was his way with animals. I have some very faint memories of his dog Sage sitting by him in the front room. But what I remember most is how much our dog Lucy loved Grandpa. Whenever Nana and Grandpa would come to our house, Lucy would get so excited. She would leap up onto Grandpa's lap and lick his hands and wag her tail. She wasn't like this with any other person outside our immediate family except Grandpa. He was one of her favorite people and I think she sensed his loving spirit.
~ Eliza

... Many of you grandkids might remember him as a grandpa who sat quietly in his chair and didn't interact much with us. Don't ever think that that's all he was. Our Grandpa was vibrant - full of life, light, and love. He loved his grandchildren dearly and took interest in our lives and the little things that were important to us.

 He loved to play with us. He taught me the names of the mountains around the Salt Lake Valley. He let us play with his hair. Grandpa was an awesome man. Our grandpa knew how to do anything. He could woodwork. He had a green thumb and could make anything grow. He knew how to train your dog. He knew how to rock a trucker hat before they were cool. He knew how to build you a kite. He could teach you how to tie knots and braid lanyards. He knew how to lay tile and wood floors. I remember him doing a silly dance and song, stamping his feet on our freshly laid tile to get it to set. Can you imagine that? He knew how to make babies laugh.

Grandpa knew how to make you feel special. When I was in Cub Scouts our pack had a cake auction. Grandpa drove an hour down to my house and together we decorated the most brilliant cake I had ever seen. It was shaped like a clown face. He was an artist and a teacher. He taught me all these little tricks of the trade like how to spread the frosting just right on the sides of the cake. I think our cake raked in the second highest bid at that auction. I felt so proud of my Grandpa.

He knew how to make you feel special. And even in the end he still knew how to light up and give you a beautiful smile when you walked into the room and woke him up. Those smiles were a beam of sunshine that shone through his clouded mind and in those moments you could see the true Grandpa - full of light and love and so happy to see you. That's how he really was. Nana used to wrap me in her wonderful hugs and whisper in my ear, her voice choking up, "You always be proud of that name Gary Crofts. You never forget who your Grandpa was."

We don't have to worry about losing the real Grandpa. For the first time in years Grandpa is now his real self, freed from the bonds of mortality. He and Nana now are having a joyous reunion, not only because they're back together but because for the first time in years they're back together as the real Gary and Wilma with no disease to get in the way. This is the happiest time in their lives. Nana can finally see her sweetheart how he really is after all that time of having to hold onto memories. They can enjoy each other and laugh together. All this means is that we're one step closer to having the real Grandpa back. Next time we see him he'll be his old vibrant self and for many of us that will be the first time we know who he really is....


Portrait of  Grandpa as a young man
by his granddaughter Eliza

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

goodbye, sweet grandpa

We adore you.
We honor you.
We will miss you.
We will forever thank you for teaching us what love means.

Till we meet again... xo

Monday, October 1, 2012


these are the days:

days of
frosty mornings 
harvest home
hayrides at night
fireplace and bonfire burning bright
welcoming scarecrows
pumpkins on a porch
leaves for raking 
maple syrup on warm pancakes
mugs of mellow cider
caramel apples for a special treat 
wood smoke haze hanging in the air
cozy woolens, sweaters and jackets brought out once again
costume creativity for mom and the kids
warm homemade donuts for neighborhood sharing
glowing jack-o'-lantern all in a row
spooks and ghouls and tricks and treats