Monday, July 25, 2011


The day started with an excited Warden who couldn't wait to get started on earning the coolest looking patch of them all - the tie-dye patch!  For some strange reason, despite her obsession with the '60s and '70s and tie-dye, The Warden had never actually made her own garment, so this activity was picked more for selfish reasons.  Good thing, too, since I read the write-up and The Inmates immediately started groaning.  Foghorn whined, "I hate tie-dye".  She's lucky I didn't tie her little behind in knots and dye it.

The Professor and I chose to do ours in the swirl design, while Foghorn opted for the sunburst style.  I used a Tulip tie-dye kit with the colors of lime, violet, and dark blue, colors I thought even a 12 year old boy wouldn't object to.  I helped them twist the damp shirts correctly and attach the rubber bands.  After covering my table in two old plastic tablecloths, making sure my kids were clad in ragged clothing, and forcing them into plastic gloves, I let them go at it with the bottles of dye.  Despite the complaining, they seemed to enjoy the squirting process and it was a relatively quick assignment.  They disappeared to watch Phineas & Ferb and I used the leftover dye to beautify three of my canvas tote bags I use at the grocery store.  Everything was put into plastic bags for the 6-8 hours of setting and we moved on to the next patch.  (The Vulcan, when he saw the canvas bags said, "Well, I'm never taking them to the grocery store," as if he ever took a canvas bag to the store in his life.)

The finished products.  Point me in the direction of Woodstock.
Next on the list was the CSI and Forensics patch, which had two parts.  Part one was analyzing a crime scene.  There's a great book called CSI Expert:  Forensic Science for Kids.  It's designed for classroom use, grades 5-8, but many of the activities could easily be adapted for home use.  If I had a kid obsessed with CSI (as opposed to Pokemon and mermaids), I'd be doing one of these activities every weekend.

I created a crime scene in our living room with a corpse (sorry, Spongebob), murder weapon, a strange note ripped in half, a key, a clump of hair, and a fingerprint on the door.  I got them together and explained what we were doing and gave them their copies of the crime scene documentation chart.  I then asked what they thought the very first thing an investigator would do at a crime scene (hoping someone would suggest sealing the crime scene or putting guards out front or the like).  Instead, Foghorn jumped up, grabbed Spongebob by his spindly legs, and said, "I'd hide the body in a closet," while pulling him across the floor.  I explained she was the investigator, not the criminal, and asked my question again.  She proceeded to pummel Spongebob while interrogating him ferociously.  I then explained he was the corpse, not the suspect, and gave up asking questions.

They were then instructed on how to look the scene over for potential evidence and place orange lettered cones next to anything that might be important.  Foghorn, of course, looked more like the Tasmanian Devil whirling around the room and grabbing up evidence.  I gave up on her and focused on The Professor, who was taking it more seriously.  He learned how to take measurements from fixed points in the room to the evidence and log it on the chart.  He made a sketch of the room, noting evidence locations.  He took photos and then learned how to collect evidence properly, including putting it in a paper bag and sealing it with an evidence label.  Foghorn used one of the evidence bags, but I think a defense attorney would have had a field day with her label.  Unfortunately, she chose to fill out her documentation form the same way...

Afterwards, we read a couple stories from Two Minute Mysteries by Donald J. Sobol (author of the Encyclopedia Brown books).  While very short, these mysteries were more complex than that kid Brown ever solved and The Professor seemed to get frustrated.  He likes the idea of being a detective or a spy and tries to put his deductive reasoning skills to use when watching the occasional episode of Poirot with me on Masterpiece Theatre.  Unfortunately he also gets easily mad at himself and persistence is not his strong suit.  Foghorn disappeared after the first sentence.

After dinner we went on to part two of the patch, which involved fingerprint analysis.  I used the Slinky brand Fingerprint Files kit, although I think I could have made up a kit myself with relative ease.  (Still, at less than $10 it saved me time, which is at a premium this week.)  We read some basic information on fingerprints, saw the four basic types of prints the FBI recognizes (loop, whorl, arch, and accidental), and then used the ink pad to fill out fingerprint cards for ourselves.  The ink pad in the kit was horrible, coating the fingers so thick it was impossible to get a good print.  It may be made with ingredients that wash off easier for kids or perhaps are non-toxic, but I tossed it aside and grabbed an ink pad I use for rubber stamps.

I had put some of my prints on the mirror that was included and we learned how to dust for prints.  We sprinkled a little of the powder (cornstarch) on the print, then used the brush to swirl away the excess.  Using a clear piece of tape we lifted the print, then attached it to the black square on one of the fingerprint file cards.  It worked marginally well, with the fingerprint being most visible if you didn't press the tape into the card and you looked at it through the magnifying glass (also enclosed).  I now have a complete set of Foghorn's prints and the police will probably be happy to get them in eight years when she starts driving and crime rates suddenly spike around here.

All hell broke loose during the fingerprint activity, with both kids acting up and trying to get away from the task as quickly as possible.  I had felt the anger building each day as they were dismissive of my efforts and obnoxious to any and all who were around.  (I'm waiting for a reader to leave a comment recommending, with all loving kindness, a military school for the children and an asylum for me.  Or maybe just a suggestion to borrow my husband's belt.)  I finally hit the wall this evening and let it be known that I was never doing another camp for them as long as I lived.  Those who were around for the final day of camp 2010 will remember that I had the same fit and uttered the same words...but this time I mean it.

I had a meltdown all by myself in the dining room, mindlessly reading crap on the Internet while eating a pint of UDF's coconut chip ice cream.  I then loudly announced that part two of the arts and crafts patch was taking place and if they wanted the patch they should show up.  My son bounced down the stairs, oblivious to the smoke rolling out of my nostrils, and said, "Are you watching anything on t.v. right now?"  I repeated about the patch and he said, "I think I'll skip it...if you don't mind."

I promptly sat down on the living room floor and like some sort of moron opened up the origami kit.  May I just take this moment to rant yet again about the total lack of instructions in craft kits these days?  I had purchased the Rose Art origami kit, which had pictures of cute little paper critters on the outside.  On the inside are directions with no words at all, just drawings and arrows which completely failed to tell me what the hell I was supposed to fold and how.  I folded and unfolded three different animals and was attempting a fourth when Foghorn came down the stairs and asked what I was doing.  She then looked at the box and said, "You're doing origami!  Can I do it?"  I managed to keep the top of my head from flying off and simply grunted to indicate yes.  She fiddled around with folding paper for about five minutes, then tried to make a paper airplane before fleeing back upstairs.  After my sixth attempt at making something from the book, I made my own paper airplane, threw it across the room, and considered it done.

I shake my fist at you, Rose Art!

Now might be a good time to mention my Airstream fantasy.  I often get this image in my mind of a little teardrop trailer attached to the back of my red P.T. Cruiser.  And in this fantasy I'm watching myself drive off.  There is only one human head and two dog heads visible in the car and the little trailer is packed up with Ben & Jerry's ice cream, my five favorite Dooney and Bourke purses, and half a dozen books.  And I'm always smiling...

For more ideas for things to do in Cincinnati (and things to do with kids in Cincinnati), please check out the post below.

** Things to Do in Cincinnati

You might also be interested in:

Camp Gonnawanna - Day 2

Camp Gonnawanna - Day 3
Camp Gonnawanna - Day 4



Anonymous said...

I think you deserve a special patch for surviving this week-long camp with the kids.

Kathie said...

I second that!!!

Shannon - you are such an awesome mom to do all of this for your kids! They may not appreciate it all right now, but when they get older and remember this (and talk with their friends who's moms NEVER did anything like this for them), they WILL appreciate you! Of course by then, you'll be off somewhere with the Airstream and the dogs, but just know you WILL be appreciated!

Nancy Susanna Breen said...

I say next year is Workcamp Gonnawanna. They do nothing but hard labor, and if anyone gripes, he or she gets put in isolation--preferably one of those hot little rooms with no windows. I've said it before, they don't deserve you!!!