Fun with Bubble Dough!

Wow, August has flown by! I apologize for not writing more often. It literally feels like my last post was a few days ago, but I guess it was more like a few weeks.

The other day, Irving was gone for a couple of days and the boys were going bonkers while I was trying to write an ebook, so I decided to make some bubble dough. I found the recipe on Creative Playhouse and it’s a nice twist on ordinary playdough. All three boys had a great time with it.

bubble dough

This stuff is weird, but fun. It’s solid and almost liquid at the same time, like ooblek, but you can mold it! If you pull hard, it breaks, but let it stretch out and it will turn almost gooey. Leave a well formed ball on the table and it will “melt” into a puddle looking gloop that firms up as soon as you scoop it up. I had as much fun playing with it as the kids!

bubble dough

To make Bubble Dough, you need:

1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup liquid soap (apparently DAWN does not work!)
2 teaspoons oil

I added the oil to the cornstarch and mixed it well, then slowly added the soap, a bit at a time, mixing it well with each addition. It does take a bit to come together, but it’s worth it! Get the kids to help you knead it.

We also found that it dried out rather quickly, so we just added a little more soap when that happened and it was fine. It does leave a powdery residue if you let it dry on a surface, but since it has soap in it, the whole thing washes up super fast.

The best part of this recipe is that it doesn’t require borax, which I have never been able to find here. Often, we can’t find the ingredients for the fun activities I see on Pinterest, but this is one that we could do.

Spiders in Guatemala

I am really, really not a fan of spiders. I am perfectly aware that they eat mosquitoes and all that good stuff, but they really need to stay away from me. Unfortunately, I live in a country where spiders multiply like rabbits.

The huge, 3-4 inch brown spiders that flatten themselves to get through gaps in the windows are the worst. They freak me out and they jump so you need something long to get them with. Also, they don’t seem to build webs, they’re hunters. Which means they end up in my bed sometimes and that is just not cool.

The big black ones are smaller than the brown spiders, but they’re creepy, too, because they have thick hairy legs and bulbous bodies. They remind me of the spider in The Hobbit. Ew. Fortunately, they tend to find holes in the wall and they stay there for the most part. I have an understanding with the ones in my rafters. If they stay in their holes, we don’t have a problem. If they start moving toward my bed, eviction is imminent.

And finally, we have these interesting critters, which I always assumed were poisonous because of their colors.

orchard spider

Turns out they are venusta orchard spiders and are perfectly harmless! Except, they build webs right at face level, which is never fun. And they’re very pretty when you don’t have to worry about venom!

orchard spider

Yup, Still Alive!

I’m still here and still kicking, even though I haven’t written recently. Every time I start to write something, I get distracted and forget to do it. Oops.

So, what has been going on here? Mostly work. We took a couple of weeks off of school, which the boys have really enjoyed. During this time, I’ve been really pushing the workload, applying for new jobs and just generally trying to make enough money to do more than survive (that’s always nice, right?).

I’ve been getting more and more gigs doing ebooks rather than articles, which is nice. Irving has a ten day “tour” coming up in the middle of the month though, so I won’t be doing a lot of writing at that point. On top of that, we are working on a couple of new projects (no, none of them is a baby, in case you are one of the many people who thinks we’re going for a fourth!) that I’ll write about in the near future.

The kids are growing like weeds and enjoying their vacation. Dominic has really been coming into his own lately and is turning into quite the little clown! He cracks jokes and teases a lot, which is pretty funny coming from a 2 year old.

While we’re starting back to school tomorrow and I have another set of books to write, I need to get my bedroom organized so I can put my fabric away and start sewing again. I’m doing some things for one of our upcoming projects and also some NICU gowns for Pishamitas con Amor, a group in the capital that provides clothing and blankets for new moms in the public hospitals who have little for their babies. Some blog readers and friends have brought or sent down some flannel fabric and assorted items to make these gowns with, plus I had my sister bring me some when she came in April.

So, plenty going on around here! What are you doing these days?

Reading with My Boys

readingI have been reading to the boys since they came home from the hospital. They almost never go to bed without a story and while they are drastically different in age, the older boys enjoy a good picture book when I read it to Dominic still. However, recently, we have moved into proper chapter books for the older boys.

We’d read Geronimo Stilton books before, which they loved, but those are EXPENSIVE here in Guatemala, so we didn’t get any others (the first ones I found in pacas or they were brought to us by friends). These books are packed with illustrations and bright text, so they’re a good transition between picture books and chapter books.

More recently, the older boys went on a Willy Wonka movie kick and watched the movie about five times in a couple of weeks. I told them that the book is even better because it describes the candy and is much more interesting. Well, they asked if we have it and of course, I did. So we sat down that night and read two chapters of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They were instantly sucked into the story. We read it every night and they were eager for more.

When I reached the end of the book, Dorian said, “What?! Wait, that can’t be the end!” And Dante told me I was fired. They both inspected the book to make sure I wasn’t just joking and that really was the end. I told them that it’s fine to finish a good book because there are hundreds of thousands, even millions of awesome books in the world and we could now read another one.

They picked Harry Potter. It’s a smidge old for them and the British English throws them off sometimes, but they are both listening. Dante draws while I read and Dorian rolls up in his blanket and leans against me to listen. So far, they are most fascinated by the flying lessons, but of course, everything is new for them, having never been to school and certainly not boarding school, so sometimes we have to stop and I explain some things to them. So far, considering it is a more difficult book, they are doing very well and we’re all enjoying it.

I grew up with my parents reading to us until we were teens. I fully plan do that with my boys, too. What are your favorite books to read aloud?

Kids Say the Darndest Things: Episode 85

I watched Dante getting some things from my closet.
Dante: “You’re looking at me like a real mom!”
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Dominic: “Mama, what you doing?”
Me: “Cleaning strawberries.”
Dominic: “STRAW-berries?”
Me: “Yes, strawberries.”
Dominic: staring at a berry. “Where’s the straw?”
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Dante: “What’s this stuff in my eyes?”
Me: “I don’t know the proper term, we called them sleepymans when I was growing up.”
Dante: “Oh. How do we get them? I think probably our eyes get wet and then the wet dries out and these little rocks fall out.”
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Dorian: “Well, we’re going to watch a movie.”
Me: “I don’t recall saying you could do that.”
Dorian: “Well, we are. It’s called Cats. This is the best episode ever.” Sits down on a chair and watches the kittens playing on the windowsill.
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Dante: “Mama, you look like you haven’t slept. Like you’re really old under your eyes. Kind of purple.”
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Dante: “Mama, how does the sun land on this CD and then shine somewhere else?”
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Dorian: “Can you make cake for dinner, please?”
Me: “No, we’re having potatoes and salad.”
Dante: “You’re FIRED!”
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I walked outside to go to the laundry room and Dominic was playing cars by the bathroom.
Dominic: “I not doing ANYTHING!”
Me: “I didn’t say you were.”
Dominic: “Just my cars. Not doing ANYTHING!”

Cooking Over an Open Fire

Our stove has been going through gas fairly quickly, but the last 25 lb canister ran out in just 10 days . . . and I wasn’t cooking for most of them, due to work! We figured something must be wrong and stopped using the stove while we figured it out.

open fire cooking

Since the gas ran out in the middle of making chicken soup, we borrowed the grill from Irving’s dad and finished the soup up on there. Since then, we have been cooking on the grill for bigger meals, including breakfast and dinner today. I haven’t done a lot of cooking over a fire in some time, but it is kind of fun.

For breakfast, we had beans (cooked in the crock pot) with onions, sausage and eggs. It was delightful! Even the boys decided they liked beans this way!

campfire cooking

eggs

For dinner, we enjoyed some grilled chorizos with soba noodles and a salad. Yum! Everything has a lovely smoky flavor to it, which adds a lot to the meal.

Irving and his brother took apart the stove today and cleaned it all out and replaced the hose and attachment. So our stove is working again, but we’ll keep cooking on an open fire for a while, because it’s a lot of fun.

Mouse Patrol

We’ve been dealing with mice issues for a while now and have tried everything. They keep coming back and I’m sick of it. So we decided that we would get a cat to help with the population control.

I posted on Facebook to see if anyone knew of any kittens or cats and we discovered a couple of shelters in the area, as well as a friend of a friend who had a litter of kittens ready for homes. We ended up going to check out the litter and making a new friend in the process! The kittens were adorable and in the end, we came home with not one, but two.

Meet Macroft . . .

Macroft

And Tina Sometimes.

Tina sometimes

These little critters are a lot of fun. Everyone enjoys them, but no one more than Dominic.

cats

He loves on them as much as they let him, hugging them, kissing them and holding them while he watches a movie or reads a book. If he could, he would snuggle kittens all day long! They aren’t interested in that, though, so have found some hiding spots where they can enjoy a little peace and quiet. They are very patient with their two year old fan, though!

While they’re still kind of small to be catching mice, the kittens do hunt spiders and have killed a few big ones already. They also hunt Minecraft blocks, popcorn and bits of paper. They litter trained almost immediately, which was nice. In short, these little guys are settling in very nicely around here.

5 Reasons I Love the Rainy Season in Guatemala

rainy season

A lot of people complain about the rain around here. While I certainly don’t like it coming into the house, now that we have the roof patched up and the concrete and drains outside, it’s pretty darn nice! Here are five reasons I love the rainy season.

1. It’s not all day. When I lived on the West Coast of Canada, the rainy season meant rain all day, every day. Yuck. It was dreary and damp. Not in Guatemala! You get intense sun all morning most days, with clouds coming in just after lunch, then a downpour in the afternoon and often steady rain throughout the night.

2. Kids sleep like rocks. When it is raining at night, the rain on the tin roof makes a lot of racket. While that’s bad for watching TV, it means the boys fall asleep fast and sleep very soundly. So do I, for that matter!

3. It cools down. The mornings are hot enough that the refreshing rain in the afternoon is a blessed relief. It feels SO good when the cool air sweeps through the house.

4. It’s green! Everything turns green during the rainy season. Everything grows like crazy, too. Our path quickly becomes a jungle if we don’t keep it trimmed, but it’s nice to see so much greenness everywhere.

5. It’s clean. The rain washes away the sawdust that has been caught in the cobblestones since Semana Santa. It scrubs sidewalks of dog poop and dirt. It washes down the walls and clears roofs of debris. In short, everything is sparkling after a rainfall!

What’s your favorite part of the rainy season?

Preventing Dengue

It’s the rainy season in Guatemala and that means dengue is on the rise. This is a very unpleasant disease that is spread by mosquitoes, so the primary method of preventing it is to keep mosquitoes at bay. That’s harder than it sounds!

Every rainy season, alerts go out in the papers and on the news to remind people that they have to be careful. Bug repellent seems to be completely unused here, so the towns send out fumigators to spray around properties and eliminate bugs. They also give out little bags to put in the pila. I have no idea what is in these and haven’t used them, though my MIL once dropped one in my pila. I fished it out and tossed it, since I didn’t want chemicals in the water we used to wash our dishes.

There is a fine line between not wanting chemicals around my kids and not wanting them to get dengue, so we take steps to prevent mosquitoes as much as possible. These include:

- Emptying any water in basins, pilas, etc. every couple of days.
- Removing or turning over anything that might catch water, like tires, cup-like toys or containers outside, etc.
- Draining puddles that form during storms.

We also use Raid laminitas that plug into the wall outlets. I don’t like to use these, but on evenings when there are dozens of mosquitoes hanging around, we pull them out. Night seems to be the worst for mosquitoes, so we close everything up (all doors and windows are open during the day to let air in) before dark to keep most of the bugs outside.

What do you do to prevent mosquitoes?