Archive for January, 2008

Winter Camp

Talk About TuesdayHello. My talk is on S’mores.

I’m not one to often make frivolous purchases for myself. For the Baby, okay, but not for me. However, my nice Mother-in-law gave me the funnest fun-in-a-box I’ve had for a long time, made even better by the novelty of such a “just because” thing. It is called a S’more Making Thing (or something like that) and it is cool. The fact is I needed one of these, but the realization only flooded mind after we used it. Why? This was the old way of toasting marshmallows in the winter.

old way

I am not suggesting anyone try this, since it obviously carries a risk of catching you on fire or burning your lips on a hot fork.

Isp is very task oriented and initiated our first s’more making activity.


What you do is light a can of chafing fuel (Sterno) in the li’l fire pit, and use fondue forks for mini weiner sticks. It is just like a tiny camp fire, without the smoke and mosquitoes. Then you lightly toast marshmallows for the s’mores.


Or catch them on fire. Whatever works. The instructions actually suggested keeping a little water tank handy to submerge flaming marshmallows in. Bizarre.

We made s’mores…


and made s’mores…

and made some more s’mores. Ood kept making them and giving them away when his own tummy was at capacity. A fair number of marshmallows were consumed sans the chocolate and graham, as Tood demonstrates here:
I think this is as close to winter camping as I ever want to come.

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I think Pi was two the year we first broke a homemade piñata on Christmas Eve. Why a piñata? I don’t know. We were new parents trying to drum up a kid-friendly activity. All she dared do was lightly tap it with the stick from a safe distance, and even that took some prodding, gentle creature that she was. Still, in the spirit of forging family traditions we have repeated this activity every Christmas Eve since.

The piñata is made from a balloon covered with paper maché, and so must resemble something round, like a planet or Humpty Dumpty. This year we made a pig because it is the year of the boar in the Chinese zodiac (or so Isp informs us, and why wouldn’t a seven year old know such things?)


The legs and snout were pieces of paper towel tube, the tail a chenille stem which means “pipe cleaner” in craft language. A piece of twine was tied criss-cross around the balloon for something to hang the piñata by. The paper was dipped in flour paste then layered over everything. One layer of paper maché is strong enough for us, but muscles don’t exactly run in the family.


Everybody helps. Or at least watches.

After a couple days when the paper maché was dry, we sawed a little hole in the top (since we forgot to leave one) and popped the balloon. Then we painted it pink. I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t take a photo of the finished product before we had embarked on its destruction. My Spouse secretly loads the piñata so its contents are a surprise.


Go Pi! We had another family over on Christmas Eve so there was a whole crowd of children whacking at the pig. Our friend maneuvering the pole made it harder for the big kids and easier for the littles. Even with eight kids, everybody had several turns before…


Look at the Baby! When she saw the kids dive for the loot, she turbo-crawled in to get some too.

The process of creating the piñata together and waiting for it to dry seems to bring our kids together and make the final event so looked forward to and fun. I love that it is unique to our family and a constant every Christmas Eve.

Finally, here is a snapshot of Pi and Tood with their piñatas taken in 2000, way back before color photography.


We did it. A bona fide family tradition.

(For more wonderful from-scratchiness, visit the from scratch blog carnival!)

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Okay, I’ve had my little blog break. NaBloPoMo was naturally followed by NoBloPoMo. I was meaning to blog over the holidays (har) so just think of this as my way of prolonging the holiday spirit.

We had a joyous and rambunctious Christmas. That is, after we got the Christmas card photo shoot over with. My patient nature and fine photography skills, combined with my compliant and docile brood, make this a well loved holiday tradition. At first we attempted a Christmas tree tableau, complete with stylish basket of junk in the background.

um, no

Take one. We took forteen bazillion more. That “tortured boredom” expression on Pi’s face was in every single shot until I finally made clear that she was to look happy in the next one or die.

did she smile?

So much for my threats. Isp and Ood couldn’t help but watch Pi to see if she would smile, though. Oh well, that light was bad anyway.

Plan B: the five pointed star. I quickly swept a portion of kitchen floor…


Pi cleverly found something to do with her mouth, since smiling was still out of the question. Tood deserves a medal for forcing a smile while The Baby screeches in his ear and pulls his hair, doesn’t he?

I believe I only took four shots in this pose, and lo! We had our winner! You can just imagine me towering above and whooping like a gleeful lunatic to get that Baby to crack a smile.

good 'nuf!


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