Projects, Parenting & Spray Bottles, Part Three


Original Date of Post: November 29, 2012

I have the world’s best excuse for not doing dishes tonight (besides the ones laid out in yesterday’s post)--we’re out of water. Don’t worry, we’ll have water tomorrow--I can pump water into our roof tanks. But for tonight, no water. I had forgotten we were out of water, and I tried to wash my hands

Activities that can be completed while parenting with full or partial attention


Sometimes I give myself a pedicure while Emilio takes his bath on the patio. (The last time we did this he still fit in his bathtub which is really a plastic cooler. I am not sure he will fit in it anymore.) As he enjoys splashing in his tub, I enjoy soaking, scrubbing, and grooming my feet. After a while, he becomes interested in what I am doing and asks if he can have a pedicure too. He thinks a pedicure is an object he can have. I let him rub some cream on his feet and he loves it. He will usually split attention between what I am doing and what he is doing, and his enjoyment lasts for the entire pedicure process.

Baking Bread

This is a classic full time attention activity (where our attention is both on the activity at hand) with an equally shared result--fresh, warm, delicious bread! The recipe I use is from the New York Times adaption of the Sullivan Street Bakery No Knead Bread. I learned it from my Dad, who bakes it all the time. It looks beautiful, is very easy to make--no kneading, just a lot of rising and tastes incredibly good, like my favorite bread kind of good with a soft, chewy interior and a hard, crusty exterior. Anyway, it’s so easy to make, it almost doesn’t make sense not to make it. Emilio loves to make the bread dough. He helps measure the ingredients out and mixes the gloppy, sticky mess--which is very fun to play with. Then we let the dough sit for 16 hours. The next day, it has to be handled a little bit more (not kneaded though) and then eventually gets baked for 30 minutes in a dutch oven with the lid on and then 15 more minutes with the lid off. The sense of accomplishment that we both get from the experience increases the pleasure of eating the bread. One loaf usually lasts 2 days in our family.


I did try my idea of putting watercolor paint in spray bottles, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It was hard to get enough color intensity, and it became clear right away that the mess was going to be unmanageable for me. Emilio seemed into it, but I just couldn’t let it go on. But, then I got Emilio interested in classic watercolor painting, while sitting at the table, and Emilio focused intently on his painting for enough time for me to pack up our stuff to get ready to go. 


This is a great activity that we enjoy doing together, or Emilio also can do it alone. Some materials I like to use are: construction paper, dry beans, googly eyes, Lotteria cards, pipe cleaners, origami paper, magazines to cut. (Next time I want to try a nature collage, where we collect objects outside as our materials.)

Exercise/Getting the Rawrgies Out

I like to take the opportunity for us both the get some exercise. Rather than trying to find someone to watch him while I spend money and drive to a class, I can put on music we both like and start jumping around--on the bed, or the floor. Yesterday I played the music from Yo Gabba Gabba, (Emilio’s new favorite show that we just discovered in LA) which is great and arty, with electronic beats and catchy repetitive phrases. “Try it.   You’ll like it. Try it.   You’ll like it” The songs remind me of songs we’d make up on our own, but with electric beats added.

Imaginative Play (with toys we both like)

My current favorite is pretend play with Vintage Fisher Price Little People. Now this doesn’t seem necessarily like an activity where I am getting something done, but it is, indirectly. Not only is engaging in imaginative play the best way that children learn, but it also gives me the opportunity to develop my imagination, which is necessary for most of the projects I am working on. That being said, active playtime with Emilio probably teach me lessons about almost everything I care about: creativity, improvisation, happiness, love, psychology, humor, relationships, and the list goes on...


Sometimes when Emilio sees me start to cook dinner, he asks if he can help. Without hesitation I set him up with a mini chopping board, butter knife and a vegetable to cut. He looses interest after a few minutes, but he loves the feeling of contributing to dinner. 

To be continued...