Monday, December 24, 2007

Winged Grace

There are angels hanging out nearby.

I received the loveliest note in the mail last week. Inside was a check which has already purchased clothes for the girls and Q (love those clearance racks!) and will buy G a chemistry set, maybe some pants for those mile-long legs. And yes, we'll use some of it for something plain old fun. I'm still reeling and can't seem to come up with any really super ideas. Any suggestions?

To whomever sent it: thank you and thank you and thank you. And a very Merry Christmas.

When we went over for Grandpa's funeral, G got an impromptu Chemistry intensive. During the soup lunch provided by the church, he was sitting with the son of friends who both teach at the once college, now university. Their son grew up, got hooked on chemistry himself and now teaches there. G and this very nice young man got to talking about things they're interested in and the chat resulted in an offer from the budding professor to show my boy around a college Chem lab. (Woohoo!!) They got so interested in their minor explosions that they lost track of time and showed up about three hours later instead of the one they'd been granted. Thankfully, everything is walking distance from everything else there and they knew where we would be, so they just wandered in later in the evening. G was glowing. And not, as he pointed out, from anything radioactive. Heh.

We ended up bringing home a high-school chem textbook that had roosted in the teacher's office and lots of bolstering for a young man's fancy. G has spent many years honed in on Biology, but this Chemistry thing could just take all his interest for a good long time. He asked if the teacher could be his Chem tutor, so they seem to have worked something out there. G plans to email questions. When we arrived home after six hours of travel, the first thing he did was go pull out his tiny beaker, two droppers, and the pH papers so he could start "noting things." It was 9:30pm. I was somewhat less enthusiastic than he at that point. Nonetheless, wow. Have you ever seen lithium burn? It's a gorgeous red. The copper was pretty too, but that lithium gives off some kind of color. It's not hard to see how such hands-on activity could jump start G right into a pure fascination.

Of course now he wants to go to the garden section of whatever store we're in so he can look for bags of sulphur.

What should one do when one child was throwing up, another feeling just cranky, this resulted in missing the church's Christmas breakfast and on getting about four hours of sleep? Well, first off, one should clean things up, including one's make-up and the contents of the bathroom cupboard which had been moved to the counter top (which the girls had so thoughtfully removed and sorted in the interest of "getting rid of stuff we don't want anymore"). One should then try very hard to get the Gentian Violet off one's fingers -- because, dear ones, when rinsing a bottle of purple dye under warm water, one should remember that unless the bottle seals perfectly, the warmth of the water will cause the contents of the bottle to expand and, you guessed it, leak like mad and turn one's fingers really, really purple.

So, what should one do? The washing machine ran, the kidlets had meds, and we made marshmallows. Of course.

We made (thank you C) a pan of pale pink creme de menthe (not very minty), a pan of slightly darker pink peppermint (yummy), one of butter rum with vanilla and nutmeg, and one that's sort of like gingerbread. My favorite is the butter rum. See my eyes rolling back into my head? It would go very nicely with some steaming chai, as would the cinnamon ginger. The first pan was cut into angels, the second into small gingerbread men, the third into pears, the fourth into old-fashioned doughnut shapes -- so you get the doughnut shape for your drink and the center to eat.


1 packet unflavored gelatin
1/3 c cold water
1 c sugar
1/4 c water
pinch of salt
food coloring (a few drops)
flavorings (1/4-2 t, to taste)

In a large mixer bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 c cold water and let stand until softened, about 5 min. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan (not too small -- it can cook over) combine sugar and 1/4 c water. Stir over med-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush down sugar crystals on sides of pan. Place a candy thermometer into mixture. Boil without stirring until syrup reaches 238F (soft-ball), about 10 min. Pour into gelatin. Beat with a whisk (not by hand, silly, your arm would fall off) at med-low speed until slightly cooled, about 5 min. Increase speed to med-high and beat to soft peaks, 12-15 min. Coat a jelly roll pan with a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch (we greased first but will try it without next time) and spread the mixture out evenly, sprinkling with more of the mixture. Let rest overnight (depending on humidity) and then cut into shapes with cookie cutters or just slice into squares. A double batch would fill your average jelly roll pan. Loosen the sides with a knife before trying to remove from the pan.

Our next project will include making a quadruple batch to fill a 9x13 pan so we can cut them into giant cubes! We hope to make marshmallows so large that even our giant coffee cups will barely contain them!!

Clearly I need some sleep.

Which brings us to another topic. We seem to have entered into another round of "let's see how little sleep mommy can get and still enunciate c-l-e-a-r-l-y." Last night, at 1 something, was the earliest I've gotten to bed in weeks. The more usual has been 2 am, with Q waking up around 3 or 4, usually just to nurse. And nurse and nurse and nurse. Or sleep on me and nurse. Or not sleep at all from 5 to 6 am. WAH!


Anyhoo, I've taken to keeping the teething tablets close by as they seem to do the trick. Still, one would need to remember that one had placed them right next to the bed before turning out the light in order for them to do any good at 5 am, now wouldn't one?

Q had OT this morning. When I gave his nice OT the little baggie of gingerbread shaped marshmallows I told her that some of them were a little maimed -- missing an arm, mostly. (It was a very small little cutter and marshmallows are sticky, after all.) She said, smiling hugely, "Oh, they're little disabled marshmallows! I made cookies that were 'limb-challenged' myself. It was pretty funny until they started losing their heads." Dontcha just love her?

Q got to go to the computer again this morning, following his big stretches. He loved the games and songs and his lovely OT was impressed at how quickly he caught particular details. This is good, because he'll have more time then and since he's not taking months and months to grasp the most basic responses, he'll be able to move more quickly on to ever more complicated stuff.

The Christmas tasks are about done so maybe I'll just sneak off now and sleep. Maybe I can get back to finish writing when the kids are all fascinated with their toys.

Merry Christmas to you -- I hope you're asleep now and reading later. (smiles) Hugs and Blessings, people. And thanks for being my cheerleaders.

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