Friday, 30 August 2013

Making Munchable Mini Minions!

After finally going to see Despicable Me 2 last week, Sprout and Squidge were keen to make something Minion-y, so we devised these Mini Minion Bites :)

What you need:

  • Trifle sponges
  • Candy melts in blue, yellow, red and black (we used brown as in my dizziness I forgot to tell the eBay seller which colours I wanted, so I was pretty flipping lucky I received the other three colours right really!)
  • Writing icing in white and black (tesco sell a box with a few colours plus black and white, I just can't find a link)
  • Candy floss (We found little pots of it in Home Bargains for 29p, not sure where else you might find it, or you could make your own if you're lucky enough to have a candy floss machine!)





What to do:

  • Cut the trifle sponges in half so each one makes two short ones.
  • Melt the candy melts according to the instructions: One bowl of yellow, and one of blue with a few red.
  • Dip the rounded end of the cut trifle sponges in the melted candy melts, half in the yellow and half in the purple, so they are covered halfway down. This bit was super easy, the boys are 5 and 7 and needed no help, and even the ones Moppet (18 months) dipped turned out pretty well, if a little fancy! 



  • Leave to dry (doesn't take too long!)
  • Then melt one bowl of blue candy melts and one of black (or brown ;) )
  • Dip the uncovered half of the yellow trifle sponges in the blue, and the purple ones in the black.
  • Leave to dry.
  • Remelt what you have left of the purple candy melt bowl.
  • Dip the purple Minions in so they get a tiny bit on the top of their heads, tear off a piece of candy floss, and stick it on for crazy hair.
  • Using the black writing icing, draw on Minion faces/glasses/hair etc.
  • Using the white writing icing add teeth to the purple Minions.
  • Leave to dry.
  • And there you have it, Munchable Mini Minions!









Monday, 26 August 2013

"What do you saaaay?"

We went along to a promotional day at a local business today. We've been before, they usually have some nice stalls with various organic food and handmade crafts, plus some pay-to-do activities for the children. On our way in a lady handed me a handful of sheets, explaining that the stalls and activities were in the field, and we could take a big stick to tuck any found treasures into, such as leaves and flowers. "Great, thanks!" said my husband, Gruff. "Hold on," said the woman, passing me another sheaf of paper with pictures on it, "these are dotted around the farm to spot." "Ooh brilliant," I said, smiling, and as I moved to walk away, slightly overwhelmed with the amount of leaflets, pamphlets and information she'd just given me, I realised she wasn't letting go of the paper she'd handed me. I looked up to see what the problem was. "What do you saaaay?" she asked me, raising her eyebrows meaningfully. For a split second I was confused, then Gruff interjected with, "Thanks a lot." "Well done," she said, and released the handful of paper.
We spent a couple of hours there, looking around, and spending a not inconsiderable sum on food, drinks, baking sessions, tractor rides, donkey rides and handmade crafts. Moppet started to get tired so we wandered in the direction of the exit, handing in to the same woman the pencil we'd borrowed to fill in the treasure trail, and then heading for the car.
"Wait! Come back!" she called. Thinking I must have forgotten to return something, we turned back. As I reached her, she handed me a promotional biro from another business. Not quite sure whether it was to fill in my details on a marketing form or something, or whether it was being given to me, I began to take it and looked at her assuming she was going to say what it was for. As I took hold of it, she pulled it back towards her and leaned in towards my face. "What. Do you. Say?" she sternly asked. Intimidated and frankly still a bit confused, I paused for a moment, then heard Gruff say, "Thanks very much." Ignoring him, she pulled on the pen again. "What do *you* say?" she asked me again.
Now I'm going to turn this into a 'choose your own adventure' type of story.
First option: "Please don't speak to me like that," I replied, letting go of the pen and stepping back. "There's actually a brilliant organic farm shop a lot closer to where we live and they speak to their customers with a lot more respect and friendliness. We'll go there from now on. We were going to buy one of your massively expensive organic meat bundles but we'll go for theirs instead. What do *you* say?"
Second option: As it dawned on me that despite me being friendly and grateful, I was being told off by the proprietor of the business for not using the words of her choice to express my gratitude for having been allowed to spend my money with her, and my gratitude for accepting a marketing item that she had specifically called me back to give me, and all this in spite of the fact that I'd been friendly and nice and another member of the family had indeed used her desired words... well I meekly whispered, "Thank you," and she released the pen with a satisfied nod. "Well done," she said.
Which ending would you choose?
Now obviously, this didn't quite happen. Well, it did actually happen word for word, but rather than her talking to me, she was talking to Squidge, who is five and very *very* wary of strangers. He picked option two, just as I was about to interject.
Is what she did more acceptable now it was him and not me? Some would think so. I actually find it less acceptable. He's five. He doesn't have the confidence to say to a grown stranger, "No thanks, keep your pen." He doesn't yet even have the confidence to say, "Thanks for the pen," and yet he's sweet and he smiles and is respectful.
Until he has that confidence, I'm there. He often does say a quiet little thank you (he did to the donkey he rode on today), but if not, or if the person doesn't hear, I express our thanks. I'm happy to do that. He's one of the most verbally thankful children I've ever met, with people he knows. Gradually, as he gets more confident with speech, and around people, and wants to fit into the world more, he's saying it more. He's ordering more himself in restaurants, paying more himself in shops, joining in more at activities when there are people he doesn't know. If I think he might be comfortable saying thanks but hasn't, i sometimes whisper in his ear to see if he wants to. It's all part of the process of childhood, of learning, and it all happens at different rates for different children.
What would be gained from forcing him to say thank you? For him, nothing. In fact the exact opposite. He would lose the meaning of it, the sweetness that comes from expressing sincere gratitude to someone. For the woman in question? After thinking on it, the only answer I can come up with is control. We had already thanked her. The gratefulness of our party had been clearly expressed. She herself actually did not say please or thank you once during either of our interactions. Squidge himself had been sweet and smiled. What more to be gained from insisting that he personally thanked her? Only control.
What's the big deal? you might ask. It *is* a big deal. It matters that people think it's completely reasonable to talk to children in ways they'd never dream of talking to adults. It matters that my five year old son ended what had been a fun afternoon feeling a little bit confused and worried. It matters that, to many people, what children think of them means so very much less than what they think of the children.
It's one thing if people want to parent in a way that forces insincere 'thank you's from their children. If people want to parent in such a way that their children's words are more important than the feelings and intent behind them, that's down to them. If people want to not say please or thank you in an interaction with their child, but then expect the child to do both, whatever, not my business..
But should you, a stranger, proprietor of a business where we are customers, try and force these words uncomfortably from my small child, I can assure you I'll be finding a different business with which to spend my money. So thank *you*.

Gaming and Raining

The last week and a half or so started with the return of some summery weather, so we headed to the kids' grandparents' house for a spot of  football...


...and Squidge found this stripy spider that he then watched for a while...


...and this gorgeous purple butterfly, and looooooaads of bees :)


Moppet dissected some flowers...


...and Squidge designed this little Lego space rover.


Then they got out lots of old board games and made up their own rules...




...and once we got home Squidge was excited at the arrival of a massive box of caps (the boys have so much fun with these in the back garden!)


Squidge had asked me to get a model eye to put together, and loved doing it, although this one is really fiddly and definitely needs help putting it together. He loved hearing the names of the different parts of the eye and kept asking for them over and over again :)


One of Squidge's favourite things at the moment is giving me a couple of things to put in a story and then snuggling up and listening. So... zombies, tinkerbell, go! Or... Magic car, his blue mohawk, the beach, go! :) So I thought he'd really enjoy story cubes, and I was right. Sprout loved them too! Between us we've done loads of stories using them in the last few days, including an absolutely epic one from Sprout all about a Minecraft server and the goings on in it and in real life surrounding it, it was fab!


After much anticipation the boys and I finally went to see Despicable Me 2, which was hilarious...


...then we went and treated ourselves to lunch afterwards :)



Back at home Sprout wanted to make a chocolate cake ("a big round one I can cut slices out of!")...



...and Squidge made some Dora the Explorer fairy cakes.


One of their home ed groups saw Finn inventing his own version of Monopoly, and to give some idea I overheard this conversation during play...
Sprout: You can't do that now you're in jail.
Sprout's friend: Can I still get the laser?
Sprout: Not while you're in jail, but you can dig through steel.


Meanwhile Moppet enjoyed playing in the play house.


Back at home, Squidge dug out some watercolour paper and oil pastels and drew a spaceship for Gruff as he knows he likes EVE and they sometimes play a bit of it together...


...and here it is, complete with pilots, jellyfish bad guys, blasters, and fire!


Sprout spent his pocket money on the Chima Twin Bike, and found an offer where he got a Speedor free with it too so he was very pleased.


He's fascinated by the human body at the moment, especially heart rate after watching videos (here and here) of Pewdiepie using a heart monitor while playing horror games. Sprout borrowed his grandma's blood pressure monitor which shows one figure for heart rate, which he thought was fun, but he really wanted to be able to keep taking it more easily, so we picked up this pulse monitor watch where you just have to hold your finger on a small plate for a moment to take your pulse. He's played with it lots, finding out different things that increase or decrease his heart rate.


We got him this stethoscope to use with it, and Moppet has been joining in playing doctor :)


We finally renewed our annual passes to Gladstone Pottery Museum, and met up with some friends to reacquaint ourselves with it, watching pots being thrown... 


...painting pottery...



...and investigating the stinky Victorian street.
Sprout: "Tam. There's poo in this toilet. Poo!"


They all chose some marbles in the shop and Moppet loved listening to the sound they make when she knocks them together.


Plus we brought home their finished pottery. This is Sprout's...


...Moppet's...


...and Squidge's.


We did another couple of the projects that Squidge has on his list of want-to-do's from the Great Art Attack Stuff book, which were a moving mouth fish card...



...and a springy-legged monster!


We spent a lovely afternoon at the park with friends...



...and another day at their grandparents' house, which we'd scheduled as Sprout wanted a few hours to build the Space Lego train they have there.
I loved watching Moppet playing with the Peek-a-Blocks, methodically picking each one up, looking at what was inside, checking if it made a noise when she shook it, then placing it down behind her :)


Sprout finished the train track and made a start on designing a base to go around it...


...then they all played some Twister!


That night we had tickets to watch As The World Tipped by Wired Aerial Theatre in the park. To say it rained would be an understatement. I've been drier in the bath. It was still amazing. (Actually maybe even more so, there's something about a situation like that where you're choosing to be there that makes it more fun. The children kept choosing to stay so it's all good!)


The boys played this brilliant computer-controlled milk bottle instrument...


...and this bronze flaming gibbon (?) where you controlled the notes with a banana. This was Squidge's favourite one, whereas Sprout loved the milk bottle one.


Smiles all round as the rain tipped in bucketfulls...


...still smiling...


...then when the show started they were mesmerised. Squidge chose to leave about three quarters of the way through as he was just too wet, but Sprout stayed till the end and loved it. (For some idea of the show, the screen you see there is the stage, the picture on it is a film, and the two people you can see 'in' the field are suspended on wires. It was compelling and exciting and thought provoking. 


Once home, it was s'mores time with the mini blow torch we'd bought Squidge for cooking with.


Both Sprout and Squidge were really excited to melt the marshmallow like this.


Nom!


While Moppet continued her latest pursuit of putting lots of stickers on her tummy...


...Squidge made a rhubarb crumble and some asparagus, pea, broccoli, courgette and spinach soup.


Saturday was the eagerly-awaited Insomnia i49, which this time had the added attraction of the Minecraft Expo.

Pretty much the first thing we did was the meet and greet with Sky, one of Sprout's absolute favourite YouTubers. While he waited he enjoyed seeing all the statues of other people he likes, including Simon of Yogscast... 


...DaveChaos...


...Martyn...


...Yogscast's Sjin...


...and Yogscast's Lewis.


Finally he took his ancient creeper book...


...met Sky...


...and got his autograph.


Woohoo!


The exhibition was way WAY busier than last time (probably due to the three feet or something of snow that was about last time!), but we still managed to do lots of cool stuff...


...watch a presentation by Mythros (which I hadn't expected Sprout to be interested in, but he was engrossed)...


...play in the arcade room (which was an extra cost we hadn't expected but it was very worth it)... 




...design their own Minecraft figures...


...watch some 3D printing of Minecraft builds by printcraft, which was extremely cool (and has given me an idea for a couple of surprise Christmas presents!)...


...dress up as Endermen...


...more arcade games...





...pose in the photobooth (sorry, blogger making my photos skewiff again)...


Lewis again...


...and join in the Minecraft parkour tournament, among loads of other things.


We stayed pretty late, and once home Squidge brought his Minecraft character to pick up a pizza...


...then played Super Smash Bros Melee on the vintage Gamecube we picked up at the RetroActive stall.


After those massively busy few days we were all a bit zonked out yesterday so had a pretty quiet day in, making puppets from our hands...


...Squidge arranging flowers that he chose... 


...working on his 'ancient' Spiderman book...


...Gruff and Sprout playing Minecraft LAN...


...Squidge drawing some more pictures, including this many-eyed monster...


...these snakes looking after the baby snake in an egg...


...this little robot...


...this Angry Bird...


...and this rainbow :)


...and Sprout finished his Minecraft character from Insomnia. Introducing....The Daemon!