Soggy Feet and Happy Hearts

And….. we’re back!

I needed to see the evening news to really  internalize how incredibly fortunate we were on Sandy night.  We were evacuated on Sunday; after moving what we could out of the obvious low points of the house, we were cautiously optimistic that all might be fine.  And considering what happened to New Jersey, waterfront property in Connecticut and New York City, we’re just that: all good.

But it’s an invasive feeling to see your belongings floating.  To see a freezer askew as if someone had tossed it aside.  To consider what it was like to have 8 feet of water rushing into and through your home.

Yesterday when so many loved ones were saying, ‘it could have been so much worse’ I understood what they were saying, but I didn’t FEEL what they were saying.  But today, I feel it and it’s a much more peaceful place to be.  And I ache for the thousands of people waiting in a dark line for gas or water.  Picking through the soggy wreckage of a family room or a nursery.  Looking at the tree on their roof and wondering where to even begin with cleanup.

Tonight I put three sweet children to bed clean and warm and dry.  Two thrilled by their cozy cozy pajamas and one exhausted by all the throwing up and drawling (dragging + crawling) of the day.  We have family lovingly looking after our not always well behaved pooch, and I’ve showered twice in three days (that’s a good statistic).

So what did we do with a husband away on water/ storm mitigation duty and three out-of-sorts children stuck inside a house not accustomed to three small children? We put on our Operation Entertain The Children Thinking Caps, folks.  (Thanks to Sandy, all pictures courtesy of the iphone…)

First stop, supplies.  The local grocery store was open so I hit the craft aisle and the baking aisle.

Project #1: Invisible Ink.  This wasn’t as awesome as I expected, but still killed 20 minutes or so.  We took some lemon juice and some Q-tips and made a drawing.  That was step 1.  

Step 2 might have been the issue for us (but the kids didn’t care).  When you heat the lemon juice, it’s supposed to discolor and ‘reveal your secret message.’  Ours didn’t discolor so much, but I was using a hair dryer which might not have been the right call.  Every description of this I read said to either hold the paper over a candle (seemed a little risky given our age group) or over a light bulb.  As I said, the kids were still into it despite the potential ‘fail’ so I didn’t bother to repeat the whole thing to see if a lightbulb or candle would have produced more obvious results.  Let me know if you try!

Project #2: Coffee filters, markers and eyedropper.  Eleanor colored the coffee filters as much as she could (we just hope Oliver keeps the pen on the filter and not in his mouth).  

Once the filters are colored, show your child how to use the eye dropper; this is a challenge, but great fine motor practice.  If you squeeze drops of water onto the filter, the marker bleeds together and it’s loverly.  Tape ’em up against a window, piece them together to make a garland, cut them out into shapes for a colorful collage.

Project #3: Baking soda, vinegar and food coloring.  (This is the activity I mentioned here.)  I bought 2 roasting pans at the market and poured about 1 cm of baking soda into each one.  Then I filled 2 little ramekins with white vinegar and added a few drops of food coloring.  Both kids loved it, but for very different reasons.  

Eleanor loved it as you’d expect: bubbling vinegar, mixing colors, exactly what the activity is all about.

Oliver…. well he ate it (he didn’t like either the vinegar or the baking soda), he also liked the bubbling but it was less contained, and then he just liked digging his fingers in and spilling it.  (Thankfully my mother-in-law wasn’t home to watch this one…)

Project #4: Marshmallow and toothpick construction.  If your child is older than 3.5, they may be into this.  Eleanor lost focus early on.  May have been the activity, may have been the lack of sleep, unfamiliar surroundings and general funk she’d been in all day.  Take mini-marshmallows and toothpicks and let your inner engineer have at it.

We did a little more matching of shapes.

We walked to see the TBS (To Be Slaughtered) Turkeys up the road.

And we were collectively very grateful to be together.  To have a warm shelter with food.  And to have plenty of people working with us to get everything back and running again soon.




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