Dot writes: Ken has been attending a conference this week with his friend Laura, who is over from the US, so I’ve been doing the post-playschool stint with the children on Wednesday, Thursday and today. Despite the horrible weather, which has prevented any attempts to go to the park or the beach or have little outings of that sort, I’ve enjoyed it. The first two days I didn’t even find it too tiring; I felt I had more energy in the evening than I usually have after work, which implies the boys have got a bit easier to deal with than they used to be. On the other hand, it’s possible this was just because on Wednesday they stayed in playschool for two extra hours and watched a film for much of the afternoon, and yesterday I took them to a shopping centre and they both fell asleep on the way there, which I treated as an opportunity to have a sneaky nap myself. Today has definitely been harder work. I was determined not to throw any more money at the problem of entertaining children: this approach betrays the weekend parent and is not sustainable. (We did some craft stuff yesterday, but the trip to the shopping centre was to buy a kit for it.)
Marvellous idea no. 1: I decided we’d try this milk and food-dye experiment. Follow the link and then come back and agree with me how enticing this looks. I showed Hugh the website and he was unimpressed but I made the children do it anyway because I wanted to try it. Our version was slightly rubbish as my blobs of food-dye were too big, but when I dipped the little sticks in the soap and then stuck them in the milk it was extremely satisfying to see the dye flee away in delicate lacy patterns. Hugh continued to be unimpressed. The experiment lasted about 30 seconds.
Marvellous idea no. 2: making prints from shaped sponges. This is what the boys actually wanted to do. The milk and food-dye mix was not very effective so we tried neat food-dye. Frank continued to mix in the soap. He also experimented with printing on alternative surfaces, such as the floor.
Marvellous idea no. 3: making banana bread from a great recipe I found on the internet. Now this one really was a good idea. We had two over-ripe bananas just begging to be used up. Hugh chopped them, mashed them (mostly), stirred the melting butter, whisked the egg, mixed in the flour, and left me only to do the measuring, line the loaf tin, issue instructions, and step in from time to time to finish things off. The cooking process took longer than it should have done thanks to a small hand turning off the oven partway through. Never mind. The cake was fantastic and we had already eaten quite a lot of it (without waiting for it to cool properly) before it occurred to me I should take a picture.
So! A day of achievement, I think. Never mind that the experiment, the art and the active bit of the cooking still only took up one hour… Never again will I complain that my children watch too much television.