Archive | June, 2012

Tie-Dye for Lazy People

27 Jun

It’s time to get your craft on!

We’re in the middle of Vacation Bible School week around here, which is all kinds of awesome, although I fall asleep and wake up hearing the theme song, which we sing over and over and over and ironically? That song this week is called “Operation Overboard.”

Tomorrow, the color of the day is orange, which I don’t own a lot of, except for a really big oversized Texas Longhorns shirt that I borrowed stole from my dad several years ago, and it’s not really VBS-worthy.

So, my daughter and I decided to get our craft on and decorate some T-shirts, and I happened on a project for tie-dye using only Sharpies and rubbing alcohol.

I’m a teacher, so I always have Sharpies on hand. And alcohol. JUST KIDDING.

I had to buy some Sharpies.

Anyway, the shirts turned out cute! And it took like 15 minutes and required no clean up. That is MY KIND OF CRAFT.

You will need:

  1. Sharpies in cool colors
  2. An all-cotton T-shirt (these were 4 for $10 at Michaels!)
  3. Rubbing alcohol.
  4. Some cardboard to stick inside the shirt so your designs don’t bleed through.

First, slide the cardboard inside your shirt, and if you’re a Type A person, tape the back of the shirt down so it wont move around on your cardboard. Or skip that.

Then, using the sharpies, make circles from a couple of complementary colors of Sharpies. I used orange and yellow — and later threw in some lime green.

My circles looked like this:

And I scattered them across the shirt in a random pattern like this:

Then, I carefully dripped the rubbing alcohol onto the centers of the designs — it will spread out and dissolve the Sharpie ink. You could use an eye dropper to do this, or, if you are a recycler like me, the straw from your Sonic drink. The more alcohol you use, the wider your design will spread.

If you wanted to add a little science to this, you can explain that the ink from Sharpies is not water-soluble, but it does dissolve in alcohol, so the alcohol will carry the color along with it as it spreads through the fabric.

And you end up with designs like this:

I wanted my circles to stay small. but my daughter went a little crazy with the alcohol-dripping and got some fantastic big circles that looked like fireworks — which would make this a FUN craft for the 4th of July. The first picture shows some of the other color combos we tried — and what happened when I made a heart-shaped center. Adorable, right?

After you finish the shirts, let them dry completely, then tumble them in the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat to set the color. LET THE ALCOHOL DRY COMPLETELY BEFORE YOU DO THIS. Alcohol is flammable. But when it has all evaporated and the shirt is dry, you can safely heat it up. You can also set the color with a hot iron. I think the iron method actually sets the color a little better. You may still have some color bleeding — don’t use bleach or stain removing detergent on these shirts.

After you’ve done that, you can launder the shirts as usual. Since Sharpies aren’t water-soluble, the design won’t wash out, and you will have a cool shirt for about $4.

Holy Sweat

25 Jun

Last week, I was making polite conversation with another mom as we sat outside our daughters’ dance class, when I casually mentioned I thought I might like to try a Zumba class.

Zumba - what I think I look like

I have no idea why I said that, actually.  I have the coordination of a giraffe wearing platform heels on an ice rink. Only not as willowy. But I’m not that great at small talk.

But this mom was very excited. Her church did free Zumba classes two times a week! She’d always wanted to try it! We should go! Both of us could bring our daughters, who will be headed to the same high school in the fall! It will be fun!!!

So, the night of the class, I dragged out my tennis shoes and wandered around the giant campus of the Jesus Zumba-offering church until I found the gym, which was packed with God-fearing women of all shapes and ages, all shaking what the good Lord gave them like there was no tomorrow.

Of course the other dance-class mom? Nowhere. To. Be. Seen. I was alone in a sea of booty-shaking, shoulder-shimmying holy women. Well, not alone actually. I had also dragged along my teenage daughter. That made it so. much. better.

We Zumba’ed, and had a “booty battle,” and mostly, I flailed around like a beached manatee just trying not to hit someone. But nonetheless, it started to feel less horrifying and more exhilarating. Of course, that may have been a side effect of the lack of oxygen to my brain.

I started to feel like I could do this. In fact, when the second class came around, I decided I would go! I would become a Zumba goddess!

And I told my daughter we should go.

“Why do you want to go back?” she asked in horror.

“It burns calories,” I said.

“Mom, the only thing it burns is our dignity,” she deadpanned.

Well, sure. There’s that.

But we went back anyway. Laughed at ourselves plenty, because my “salsa moves” more closely resemble the thrashing of someone who has just eaten a quart of habanero salsa.

But we also got our holy sweat on with 50+ women of all shapes and sizes who were building friendships, making choices to be healthier, and stopping at the end to share worries and prayers, and that?  Definitely worth the hour of looking ridiculous.

Put Down the Book Before Your Ovaries Shrivel!

21 Jun

Hey! Super fun day here! We made an exciting trip to Barnes & Noble today to pick up daughter’s summer AP reading assignment!

(Warning: if you don’t sense the sarcasm, I don’t think you’re reading the right blog. These are not the droids you’re looking for. Back away.)

Don’t misunderstand — my daughter likes to read. We all do in this family. Indeed, I teach reading. Books make me quivery. But there’s still something oppressive about summer reading assignments when annotating and post-it notes and plot development analysis are required. Summer reading assignments are reminders that school will start again soon. And who wants to face that in the fresh freedom of June?

But we went to the bookstore anyway.

In my daughter’s school district, incoming freshmen in AP classes could choose from one of two books: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, or A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Solider by Ishmael Beah (Great choices, really. I’ve only read the first book, but I can see some great parallels of strong protagonists fighting against unjust societies. I’m a little jealous of the conversations those classrooms have ahead.).

At Barnes and Noble — I found the table of required reading books, and didn’t see The Secret Life of Bees. No problem, really — I grabbed the other, and asked the clerk if it was, indeed, the other choice.

She confirmed it was, and I asked if they were out of the other. Another clerk said a shipment had just come in and was in the back.

“Oh,” I said. “This one’s OK if they’re not available yet.”

The clerk asked, “are you buying it for a boy or a girl?”

And, when I said it was for my daughter, said “Oh, then let me go to the back. That’s the boy book.”

Look, obviously, the books were chosen because one would more typically appeal to girls, who might more easily identify with Lily Owens. And the young author in A Long Way Gone who writes about his experiences being forced to join the army in Sierra Leone at age 12, has a story that might pull in teenage boys.

But last time I checked, the bookstore wasn’t divided into “girl books” and “boy books.” The Secret Life of Bees dust jacket does not say “you must have ovaries to read this book.”  And just because a book is about dictators doesn’t mean you can’t read it unless you have a…

Well anyway.

“I didn’t realize books had gender,” I said to her. Then I smiled that southern “bless your heart” smile that means something else entirely. You know the one. “They both look worth reading.”

Yes, My Child Still Ate the Ice Cream Cone

19 Jun

Jack Russell

No, this is not becoming a dog blog. But this makes me laugh.

We were on the way back from the dog park, and stopped at Dairy Queen to get ice cream cones. While we were waiting for our order, our Jack Russell looked so sad sitting staring at my daughter’s cone.

So I decided to take her picture — at the same time as she decided to stop staring and start licking! (I like how the cone is tilting off to one side like it’s trying to escape.)

A perfect summer moment for saving before it melted away.


Why I Will Never Be Asked To Blog For Roomba

17 Jun

About a month ago, we bought a Roomba, a robot vacuum that dances happily around the floor sucking up dirt and dog hair all by itself, and I must say, it’s been a game-changer.

We have 3 dogs who live inside. And one, a corgi, wins the gold medal in the fur-shedding Olympics. If I could figure out how to knit his sheddings into coats, I could clothe a third-world country a week. I’m serious. I think he grows 5 completely new sets of fur a day. He just walks through a room and it goes from hardwood floors to shag carpet.

Who, me? You lie.

The first few times the Roomba ran, it would stop every 10 minutes and inform us, in a sad, disappointed voice with a touch of fear, that its brushes needed cleaning. I think it really wanted to ask “what have I done to deserve this God-forsaken assignment,” but the folks at iRobot have wisely given it limited vocabulary.

Which is good, because the first time it ventured under the couch, I am pretty sure the Roomba wanted to unleash a string of profanities that would make a Dyson blush.

But eventually, with regular use, the little spinning robot actually began to win the battle on fur and dirt. It could run an entire cycle without needing its brushes cleaned. So then, I started scheduling it to automatically vacuum the living room every morning while we were still sleeping.

It worked beautifully. I awoke every morning to singing birds and pristine floors. The Roomba, its work done, had docked itself to recharge. I cheerfully emptied out its bin while I waited for my coffee to brew.

I thought we were all happy with this arrangement.

Then, this morning, as I sleepily lurched towards the door to let the dogs out, I stepped on something.

It had a weird texture, like bits of a brownie left out overnight.  I couldn’t quite see it, so I walked over to turn on the light… and then the two horrifying things registered into my brain. Realizations of terror that will be there forever.

First, my nose woke up enough to recognize the horrific smell in the living room. Then, I realized that what my bare foot was standing in was, in fact, unequivocably NOT a brownie.

Then, I turned on the light.

And there, I saw the revenge of the Roomba.

Sometime in the night, one of the dogs had apparently come into the living room and left the gift of poop. Then, as we slept, the Roomba had gone to work with its spinning brushes. Finding the poop too big to devour, it instead spun it into poop confetti, whirring and flinging it around the living room with wild abandon.

I don’t like to use profanity on this blog, but the phrase “shit storm” has never been more accurate. The single poop left by the dog had been turned into a thousand, like Tribbles multiplying endlessly.


Huh, these smell weird.

And in the midst of it, the Roomba. Its indicator light blinking ominously. When I pushed it, it said serenely “Error. Open Roomba’s brush compartment for cleaning.”

An hour’s worth of Swiffering, and disinfecting, and scrubbing later, the room was livable again. I cleaned the Roomba (you’re being spared details of this because I love you.) and plugged it back onto its docking station. And because it was still early, and I wanted to start Saturday over again, I headed back down the hall to bed.

And I swear, that’s when I heard the Roomba snickering.



Crucial Summer Question #1

13 Jun

My name is Dawn, and I have a drinking problem.


Even penguins think Sonic is cool.

I am a Diet Coke with Vanilla addict, and Sonic is my pusher.

There, I said it. I feel better, thanks.

But like most junkies and their dealers, we have a complicated relationship when it comes to money, and here’s where today’s crucial summer question comes in.

Do you tip at Sonic?

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The State Park Offering Free Fish Pedicures

12 Jun

There’s been a lot of buzz about “fish pedicures” recently, the trendy beauty practice where you stick your feet in a tub of tiny carp and let them nibble off your old, dead skin. I know, right? It sounds super fun for you AND the fish. Unfortunately, they’re banned in Texas.

Unless, that is, you go to Pedernales Falls State Park. Then, you can get one for free.

Just plop yourself down on a rock down by the swimming hole, stick your feet in, and wait for the fish.

See? Fish pedicure. Although, my daughter was pretty much a weenie about it.

Ok, maybe you have to do your own polish.

But a trip to Pedernales Falls State Park also offers excellent fitness options.

Like stair-climbing…

And stair climbing.

And did I mention stair-climbing?

After the exciting fish pedicure and workout, you can also enjoy the natural beauty of the park. The water isn’t running high, right now, but the falls themselves are still pretty, and there’s plenty of opportunities for swimming and floating. On our summer checklist of “visit as many state parks as we can, this one gets a “visit again” rating — although we will wait until it’s not 100 degrees in the shade because everything work seeing is down at least 5 flights of stairs.

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