Saturday, September 19, 2015

Gummy Legos

I'm sure you've seen this video:

It's an instructional video for how to make gummy Legos.

If you have a Lego-obsessed child, perhaps many people have posted a link to this video on your Facebook wall. Maybe, after the fifth or sixth time someone did that, you casually browsed for Lego silicon molds and, even more casually, ordered a few of them to be delivered to you for free via Amazon Prime. And maybe your Lego-obsessed child saw the molds after they arrived at your door, and pestered you daily about what they were for. And MAYBE, it rained on a Saturday morning, and you needed an activity to do with your child.

If it all happened that way for you, then stop reading. You know this story. You lived this story. If not, well, here's a recipe and a little exposition. 

To make Lego gummies, you need the following ingredients:
2 packets gelatin
1 package of jello
1/2 c cold water
1/4 c corn syrup

Mix the water and corn syrup together until the corn syrup is dissolved. The water has to be cold, according to the video, or your gummies won't be clear.  This step takes a long time (because the water is cold)...but not as long as the next step. 

Now, you will put your water/syrup solution into a pot over NO heat. You will pour in the two gelatin packets and the package of jello, and you will stir this cold mixture until all of the lumps disappear.
The lumps will be copious. You will start stirring this concoction with your child who will exclaim:

"It turned purple!"

"It smells like grape!"

And the always heart-melting, "I always wanted to cook this with you!"

But soon, the character of those statements -- commensurate with your child's age, level of patience, and mood --- will change:

"There sure are a lot of lumps."

"Why it take so long to stir all the lumps?"

"Are we done now?"  ("No, we will never be done.")

At some point, your child may dismount the step stool he/she was standing on and begin singing, "Lego Gummies, Lego Gummies, Lego Gummies," while spinning in the middle of your kitchen like a girl tripping at a Dead concert (or Phish, for you youngsters).

And then you will say, "Do you want to go into the living room and play with your Legos while I keep stirring?"  Yes, he/she will want to do that.

So you will continue stirring, attempting to get all the white bits to dissolve, and your kid will have a luxuriously long Lego  session:  plenty of time to switch around heads on many, many, many Lego men. 

Finally, it will look like this:
There will still be tiny lumps in it, but you won't care. 

Time to get this stuff on some heat. Set your burner to medium low. (On my cooktop, the heat setting is numbered 1 through 9, and I chose 4.)  Set your pot of goo onto the burner and cook until fully dissolved, stirring occasionally so the stuff doesn't burn. When it's clear, you're done. Here's what mine looked like:

Not remarkably different in the picture from the pre-cooked stuff, but the liquid went from slightly opaque to see-through. 

Next, the video says you can pour your liquid straight into your molds now, but that doesn't resolve the problem of the foam that has developed on top. That won't make a pretty gummy. The video's suggestion for dealing with foam is to pour your liquid into a heat resistant glass, let it cool for 10 minutes, skim the foamy film from the top, put the liquid into a condiment bottle and then squirt it into your molds. Here's what I did:
Gravy fat separator:  probably gets used once a year, if that, around the holidays, and IF I make a turkey. Worked great for this application.  Kitchen multitasker:  Alton Brown would be proud. 

Now, you're ready to dish out your gummy syrup into the molds. Or you would be if your molds were dry.

Ideally, you would have unpackaged your molds and washed them at least a day before embarking on your gummy adventure. But this is not the ideal world. This is the world in which you washed these little molds with all of their crevices mere minutes before starting your series of long, slow stirs. So before you dish up your liquid, be sure to dry the inside of your molds with a hairdryer to ensure all the little crannies are dry. It won't do to go pouring your liquid into wet molds, thus, (potentially) ruining the syrup you've just stirred your left arm off for. 

Your strange hairdryer activity will draw the attention of your child again, who will come into the bathroom to watch. Your spouse might come into the bathroom too, and remark how surprised he/she is that those molds take so long to dry. 

"Nooks and crannies," you'll say. 

Finally, your molds will be dry. And you and your child will return to the kitchen to dish out the goo into the molds. You'll do it; child will watch. This stuff is hot and sticky. Don't let the kid touch it. 
Once dished into the molds, your child will want to eat them immediately. You will explain that we have to wait for them to cool and set up. 

"How long," the little cherub will ask.

And you will reply, "Five hours," which he/she will not fully comprehend, but will accurately describe as "a long time" before immediately asking again whether he/she can eat a Lego man gummy.

Finally, after lunch, and some play, and a nap, and a stint in the fridge to hurry the gummies along, not quite five hours will have elapsed. Time for a gummy snack!

How did they turn out?

"Yummy!," your child will exclaim. 

Yep, we'll make 'em again. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Episode IV: The Mom Jeans Awaken

A few years back, I wrote several posts endorsing various brands and styles of Mom Jeans, jeans that fit the post-baby bod without making you look like this:

Those other jeans are still great. I still have pairs of the Eddie Bauer and Levis. But I have a new love, a love that surpasses all other Mom Jeans loves.

Okay, yeah, it's Talbot's, and Talbot's just screams "middle aged lady clothes."

But I just turned 45, dammit. I am totally, absolutely in the Talbot's demographic.  And I embrace it. 

These jeans may not be for everyone:  The waist comes up pretty high. But not like the picture above. See?

They're cute!  Don't believe me because that's a model in a size 0?  Check me out, then, in my size 12s. 

(Yes, that's the office bathroom mirror. Don't hate.)

Okay, so you can't see the waist because my shirt is untucked, but they're cute, right?

And they are sooo comfy.  There's a little bit of Lycra so they stretch a little, and, therefore, don't bind in any way. (In fact, I could probably easily wear a size 10 in these jeans because of the stretch.) 

And let me just advocate a little bit for higher-waisted jeans:  High waisted jeans don't cut your curvy hips in half. You're less likely to get plumbers crack with high-waisted jeans.  High waisted jeans, by their nature, hold your soft mommy belly in. They do not force your softer side out of the top, like so much sausage out of its casing, thus preventing the muffin top.  And, even though they are higher waisted, these jeans do not seem to cup your bottom so that it looks like a weird, rounded W. 

In short, I ❤️ my new Mom Jeans from Talbot's. If you're looking for a new pair of jeans, try them out. (They're having a $20 off sale right now!) :-D

Monday, September 7, 2015

"Heather has Two Mommies." published an article a few months ago entitled The Straight Parents’ Guide to How Not to Raise a Homophobe—and How to Be a Better Ally .  I started writing a blog post inspired by it then, but I am just getting around to finishing it now.  Hey. I'm a busy working mommy....

Anyway, the article gives some suggestions on how to talk to your kid about same-sex-parent families, and how to make the reality that they exist a -- well -- reality for your kid.  Because, whether you approve of them or not, these families are in your neighborhoods and their kids are in your kids' school.  And about the last thing any parent wants (or ought to want) is to find that their kid is bullying or teasing other kids because of who their parents are.  Even if you're a straight "gay ally," you can't just assume that your attitudes are going to rub off.  So a little attention on the part of the parents is in order.

I confess that my own ability to talk to my son about same-sex parenting has been made infinitely easier by our having a few same-sex parent friends.  It's easier to point to The Boy's own friends and say it's like Suzie's dads or it's like David's mommies.  Also, the book, And Tango Makes Three, helps.

So I frankly wasn't ever expecting any questions from The Boy on this topic. I assumed that since he sees same-sex parenting first hand that he'd just assimilate it without questions other people get from their kids.


Kids are curious.  And they can see that their families look different from each other. Frankly, I shouldn't have been surprised to get a question about same-sex parenting because I've already gotten questions about mixed race kids (and my kid has half-Asian cousins!), kids of different races entirely, the different religions he has encountered among his friends, and "what is God."

Kids notice differences, and they ask questions about those differences, not to be malicious but because they are little detectives, little knowledge sponges, investigating their worlds.  Kids just want to understand why things and people are different. They aren't judging.  They haven't learned to judge yet. It's we adults with our years of "experience" that judge the differences as better, worse, or not at all. 

So, one day The Boy asked me, out of the blue on the drive home from school (as there is not a warning system for "hard" questions), about Suzie's mommy.  Suzie (not her real name, obviously), has two dads.  And The Boy simply asked, "Where is Suzie's mommy?"  It's not that he thought Suzie shouldn't have her two daddies, but he thought she should have a mommy too. He has a mommy, after all.  So I very matter-of-factly explained the truth:  Suzie's mommy couldn't take care of Suzie, so she gave Suzie to Mr. Jack and Mr. Richard (also not their real names) to raise, and now she is their daughter, so she can have a wonderful life."  He said, "Her mommy couldn't take care of her?"  I said, "No, she couldn't, so Mr. Jack and Mr. Richard adopted her and they are her parents."  And he accepted that explanation without a blink, no further questions.

The key to responding to these questions is to remain calm, to stick to the facts, to make the answer age appropriate and, if possible, to answer the question in the most direct way possible. There's no need to introduce politics or sex or anything else into the conversation with your kid. Frankly, a little kid isn't going to understand the nuances of sexual relationships. They're still in the just-the-facts stage of development, and that's where you should meet them.

Also, answer the question posed to you and then stop there. Your kid doesn't want or need your baggage in trying to process his or her world.  It's very similar to explaining to your kid how he came to be in your tummy, and then came out of it.  Real life example:  "Mommy did you poop me out?"  "No, honey, I did not poop you out. Poop comes from a different place in mommies' bodies than babies, but those places are close to each other."

I'm sure there will be more questions one day, and more complicated questions as time goes by, and The Working Dad and I will field them as best we can.  As long as we are honest, I think it will be okay. Because I do think that honesty is the best policy even with -- especially with -- your kids....  Cheers.