Thursday, July 28, 2011

And the award goes to...

Beach House trip! Girls’ Camp style, where the silly title of the award each camper receives says it all.

Evan: (age 6) “The Angry Bird Award.”
Evan and Jesse bonded over this confounded game that Jesse and I had only heard of as a popular app on the iPhone. I was turned off by the game’s anatomically incorrect figures—the birds don’t have wings and the pigs are missing their legs—to figure out how to play. I was also frustrated by the slingshot and the targets. If you can’t see the pigs snoring on their precariously situated wooden towers until after the bird is released from the slingshot, how are you supposed to aim? And don’t the Finnish inventors of Angry Birds know that pigs aren’t green? Anyway, Jesse is hooked. He justifies his game playing like Evan does: “I’ve earned Angry Birds!” I’ve tried taking away stars from Jesse when he ignores me because he’s too absorbed in the flash animation, but he doesn’t care. What will I do when the Angry Birds movie and T.V. series debut?

Audra: (age 3) “The Sally Hansen Award.”
Audra loves nail polish. We busted out the 3.99 Ross special on Disney Princess nail glitter and she painted my nails in all six colors. If I hadn’t been distracting her by asking her to sing the alphabet song while she was painting my toenails—you ask her, “What is ‘A’ for?” and she says “A is for apple and Audra too.” But I took the song to the next level and would say, “Did you know ‘A’ is for arch nemesis, and B is also for botulism, etc.?” and she’d stop painting and look at me and say in her high, squeaky voice, “What’s a arch nessemis?”—she probably would have painted more nail and less toe. It was multitasking overload.

Bella: (age 1) “The Sandy Butt Award.”
She got buried in the sand with a diaper on. She ate sand, and hid handfuls of it inside her bathing suit. If she’d been allowed to carry her purses to the beach, she would have filled those with sand too.

Rich: “The Ambitious Tourist Award.”
Rich stuck his Beach House Bucket List on the fridge: 1) fly kites; 2) bury kids in the sand; 3) go to a museum; 4) buy ugly matching t-shirts… Getting sick and making a 7-11 run for Nyquil so that you can sleep all day and be okay the next day was not on the list. But Rich caught the bug first. The rest of us got sick for a day in this order: Joey, Sarita, Jesse, Carly. The cause of our tiny epidemic remains unknown. Rich blames the inauspiciously colored mustard.

Carly: “The Cutest Swimsuit Award.”
When I say “Cutest Swimsuit” I really mean anything that Carly wears. She makes gray sweat pants look good! But this time she had the Down East Basics Beachside Tank in white with black polka dots. It was cool. And Kelsey came on Thursday in polka dots too. Polka dots are so fashionable right now. I wish I still had my red and white polka dot headband from 1989 that I wore everyday with plaid and pants and striped shirts until the bow fell off. Then I could join the polka dot club.

Megan: “The Hairy Potter Award.”
Megan has lots of the best wavy, auburn (I think?) hair ever—Anne of Green Gables wanted hair like this. Megan also has mad pottery skills. She spent the greater part of two evenings sculpting handmade pottery souvenirs decorated with seashells from the beach for her mom and dad. She also sculpted “the solar system” in ten seconds flat when we did Cloodles while playing Cranium. That’s why it is imperative that she’s on my team from now on.

Granny: “The Worst Case Scenario Award.”
Think “The Birds” by Daphne du Maurier. If flocks of avian terrorists swooped down from the sky to take over the inhabitants of Sunset Beach and inspired Wes Craven to make a movie loosely based on these events, we all would have been safe. Granny always keeps the freezer stocked with a month’s supply of ice cream. Nobody would have starved!
Grandpa: “The Hunk Award.”
1) a sexually attractive, ruggedly handsome man
2) a large man or woman
3) an indolent woman; as a ‘nasty hunk,’ or a ‘lazy hunk’
4) a home or den
5) a large piece

When playing Taboo, your brain can only think of so many ways to describe the word “hunk” on the spot. And sometimes all you can think about is definition 1 and a random image of pre-governor Schwarzenegger:

as Conan the Barbarian in 1982, and your clueless teammates don’t get it. It’s okay. Definitions 2-5 wouldn't have helped us either.

Jackson: “The Best Legs Award.”
Jackson is a wiggly, healthy 2-month-old baby with fat legs that got stuck in his Bumbo chair. Jackson really deserves three awards. He received the "Developmental Milestone Award" for rolling over twice! And the bonus award: he gets credit for wearing the nerdiest shorts after someone dressed him in said shorts (size 2T) that rested ½ an inch below his armpits. Only Jackson can pull off this kind of fashion statement and still look cute.

Katie: “The Queen of Taboo Award.”
Katie is the only one in the family who can play Taboo without ever, ever, ever getting buzzed for blurting out the forbidden words. I commend her for her inexhaustible supply of mental acuity under pressure while holding a sleeping baby in one arm and flipping all the cards with one hand. 

Joey: “The Nyquil is for Losers Award.”
Joey’s superhuman strength laughed in the face of Nyquil’s sedating antihistamines and after a few hours of rest he felt fine and feasted on pizza, kettle corn and ice cream for dinner.

Jesse: “The Best Recovery Award.” 
On day four we rented kayaks. Megan, Jesse, and I got a triple. At one point, Audra wanted to join the fun boat and was transferred to our kayak and sat on my lap. A few minutes later Rich and Carly were floating out of sight when Jesse suddenly felt sick and was “disinclined to acquiesce to our request” to steer the vehicle.  I couldn’t paddle because Audra was on my lap, and Megan was enjoying a leisurely ride with her legs dangling over the edge. With nobody paddling, the current carried us straight toward a private dock. The impact of kayak moving at 2.5 mph on wooden stationary dock jarred Jesse’s already upset stomach. He promptly blew chunks and hurled over the side of the kayak. Luckily, he was sitting in the back and had the best view of his lunch floating away into somebody’s back yard. Two minutes later he was just fine.

Sarita: “The i heart u Award.”
Audra had a way of saying, “If I had to be stuck on an island, you'd be fun to hang out with,” the way Lexie had her own saying for the same phrase when she was four and Jesse and I visited Nevada for Thanksgiving and she said to Laura, “Mommy, Sarita’s perfect.” The day we packed up to leave California Audra needed help putting her shoes on so she could run around the yard at Granny and Grandpa’s house. While I bent down to hold her feet in place and strap the Velcro on, she said, “I love you most.” And then she ran away. I had to write it down, only because someday, someone besides me will need to remember it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dear Kelsey, Skylee, and Megan,

Follow this step-by-step guide for the quickest route to Sculpey insanity!

1.  Volunteer to sculpt the cake toppers for your sister’s wedding. Agree to sculpt the closest likeness you can possibly create with the dexterity afforded by your own fingers and a box of toothpicks.

2.  If your sister is marrying a guy from Estado Libre y Soberano de Jalisco on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, make sure you find pictures of the correct attire he might actually wear, courtesy of Google Images or vigorous Facebook stalking of his photo albums. Don’t try to make him a white suit with a yellow sombrero and Falsa blanket draped over his shoulder. If he’s from Jalisco, he wears black. Think Three Amigos. Sort of.

3.  Bake the figures in stages. Attach the head and neck and all extremities to the body with toothpicks. Don’t add hands, ears, or hair yet. If the Sculpey people look like extras on the set of A Little Shop of Horrors with toothpicks poking out of their sleeves, don't worry. I forgot to take pictures of this stage for you, sorry.

4.  Cool the baked figures. Then add hands, ears, hair, fur, etc. The most important thing to remember is that if you are attaching one piece of Sculpey to another, simply sticking it to the surface probably won't work as well. To optimize durability, blend the edges of the piece into the surface with your trusty toothpick. Does this make sense? Maybe not. I’ll have to show you in person. Oh wait, I made a video. Recorded one-handed, and without sound!

5.  If your figure is wearing a sombrero, prop up the hat with a ball of clay and bake it like this in the oven. This way, the brim of the hat will keep its shape and you can remove the prop after baking. 

      Or, if you’re making an animal, like a goose that has a heavy body and really skinny legs and you try to bake the figure in the oven by standing it on its legs, the legs will break. So, stick toothpicks into the goose’s body and mold clay around the toothpicks. This is my best trick and it works great. Now that I think of it, you could also do this to make human fingers, but of course I didn’t think of it for the cake toppers, so the groom just has stumps for hands…oh well. 

6.  Paint! Use basic acrylic colors (red, yellow, blue, green, white, black) to mix any color that anyone has ever conceived of in the history of the universe. I've had this paint since high school. It lasts forever!

7.      Present sculptures to happy bride and groom.

Aunt Sarita

P.S. don’t make the cake toppers so heavy that they fall over and their noses and ears break off when placed on top of a practice cake.