THE WEATHER OUTSIDE may seem frightful, but with a little time and information, uneasy parents can turn cold and snowy into positively delightful. Wintertime can be a frustrating season for moms and dads, particularly those new to our Alaska weather, activities and decidedly darker days. When our family moved to Anchorage seven years ago, one of the first stops I made was at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center in downtown Anchorage.
A cooperative effort among federal, state and local recreation agencies, Alaska’s centers function as a sort of clearinghouse for information about the vast wealth of public lands, with maps, recreational permits, interesting exhibits and a healthy dose of trip-planning assistance for Alaska four-season fun.
While summer brings a lion’s share of visitors to the state’s three largest public lands centers, winter can be the perfect time to investigate the wealth of information at one’s fingertips. Looking for a great trail to try out those Nordic skis Santa left under the tree? This is the place. Need a 2013 State Park Pass? Buy now and beat the spring rush. Or, perhaps you simply need an indoor change of scenery. Exhibits, films and activities to appease all ages can be found with ease.
Each center is different, too. The Anchorage center is located in the old Federal Building on 4th Avenue, and features some pretty interesting wild Alaska animal displays and an accompanying scavenger hunt. Ask about periodic lectures about various subjects of flora and fauna, a nice treat for older kids. Admission to this center is free, and operating hours during the winter months are 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Fairbanks Public Lands Information Center is housed in the beautiful Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center, sharing space with the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau, Alaska Geographic and Tanana Chiefs Conference. Just being in the bright, open space with thousands of maps at our fingertips is tempting enough, but taking a walk through the realistic displays that depict life in the Interior regions makes this a top stop for our family whenever we’re in Fairbanks. The building is open from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Saturday during the winter months. Admission is free.
Southeast Alaska also has a beautiful Information Center, located smack in the middle of the waterfront area of Ketchikan. The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center features a wonderful, interactive series of displays that carefully and completely cover all aspects of industry, history and ecology of the diverse southeast region. For kids, this is a big hit, whether toddler or teen, due to interesting, age-appropriate displays. Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., the Ketchikan center offers the fewest hours, but it’s well worth scheduling time to visit. From October to April, admission is free; otherwise, adults (age 15 and over) pay $5/per person.
Erin Kirkland is the owner and publisher of AKontheGO.com, a website dedicated to family travel and kid-friendly activities in Alaska. She lives in Anchorage with her husband and two sons.
I LEARNED LONG ago that kids love to help make cookies. And that I needed to let them. Sure, my kitchen will be destroyed, covered in flour and someone always get mad, but the learning and the fun make it all worthwhile. I PROMISE! Usually a big batch of sugar cookies is just about right for kids to work with because it’s: make the dough, let it chill, wash the dishes, pick out cookie cutters, inspects sprinkles, roll cookies, decorate, bake, cool and eat. The rhythm of it is perfect and matches the flow of kids perfectly.
If the idea of cooking with kids scares you, here’s how to make it painless. Or at least more painless…is that even right?
1. Get Started - I really think sugar cookies are about the perfect cookie to make with kids–the rhythm and flow just works. If you really don’t like the idea of sugar cookies, look through a cookbook with kids and let them have input.
2. Cover Up - Give them an apron to wear even if it’s one of yours–they’ll stay cleaner and they’ll look just like mom. Call it bonding.
3. Let the Readers Read - If you have readers, by all means have them read through the recipe out loud. It’s good practice AND it’s a great way to get your ingredients out, too. Then they can read the recipe as you work through it.
4. Alternate Adding Ingredients... - Once the ingredients are gathered, begin following the directions. Start with one child and work on down the line having each child in turn add ONE ingredient for the recipe. Everyone feels included this way.
5. ...And Following Instructions - This one is a great tip if the directions say add butter and beat until creamy have ONE child add the butter and one child beat it–again everyone is included and they each learn how to execute directions. Alternate with adding the ingredients but make sure to mix it up if you only have two kids, you don’t want one adding everything while the other does everything use some parental discretion to make it work out.
6. Break Up - Teach them to break eggs and do it in a separate bowl–no shell in the dough. We have accomplished egg breakers but still use this rule. You never know what an egg will be like on the inside–we’ve had bloody spot eggs from our laying hens and YUCKY eggs from the store, so it’s a good thing to learn now.
7. Feel the Heat - Parents use the oven period. Parents carry hot pans of cookies period. Parents only get to eat the hot cookies period. (Okay, the last one is a rule in my house! HA!)
8. Be Honest (with yourself) - Just realize your house is going to be destroyed and someone will get mad—it never fails. But the memories will be worth it.
9. The Last Word - Above all, sprinkles make everything better.
A few notes: If you have a stand mixer, please remember they are a tool not a toy. Require all long hair to be pulled back. Hand washing is good, too, and nose picking is strongly discouraged.
The memories of making cookies with my mom and sister are some of the very best I have from my childhood. Perhaps that’s why I’m so very dedicated to making sure my kids have some, too.
EVERY FAMILY HAS their favorite cookies for the holidays. Our favorite is sugar cookies. It’s a family affair: from eating the dough, to cutting out their favorite shape, to decorating with as much frosting and sprinkles as they can handle. We’ve been doing it for so many years, it wouldn’t seem like Christmas without making and decorating sugar cookies.
I’m picky about my sugar cookies. They have to be soft. They have to be thick. They have to taste great. The frosting has to complement the cookies. They have to be sweet, but not too sweet. These sugar cookies are perfect!
I’m sharing with you our family’s secret recipe. Well, I guess it’s not going to be a secret any longer. I’m okay with that. Anything this simple and good is worth sharing. My mom gave me this recipe; the same one we used when I was little. I’ve added some almond extract, since our family loves almond. It’s also in the frosting, but feel free to substitute vanilla extract. Try not to eat all the dough before you get a chance to bake them! I hope these become your family favorite, too!
Super Soft Almond-Vanilla Sugar Cookies
Makes approximately 3 dozen 3”-4” cookies
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ cup shortening
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cup sugar
½ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ tsp. almond extract
Frosting (see recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350˚
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir well using a whisk.
In another bowl, cream together shortening, butter, and sugar using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
In a liquid measuring cup, measure the milk and add the vanilla and almond extract.
With the mixer on low setting, add some of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then add some milk mixture. Continue alternating adding the flour and the milk until all the ingredients are incorporated.
On a well floured surface, roll out half the dough about ¼ inch thick. Cut with your favorite cookie cutters. Place 1-2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Continue rolling and cutting, adding the other half of the dough when needed.
Bake for 8-9 minutes (the larger the cookie, the longer the baking time). DO NOT OVERBAKE. This is the key to soft cookies! Bake until the edges are stiff, but not browned. They might even look underbaked, but they will continue to cook once they’re removed from the oven. Let rest on the cookie sheet at least 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack. Let them cool completely before frosting.
Almond Sugar Cookie Frosting
¼ cup shortening
¼ cup butter, softened
1 ½ tsp. almond extract
4 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons milk
Mix together the shortening, butter and almond extract with an electric mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar and continue mixing until incorporated. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you want. Continue mixing for about 5 minutes until smooth.
Divide the frosting into small bowls and add food coloring, mixing and adding more until you get the desired color intensity.
Our family uses craft sticks to spread the frosting. You can also add some frosting to a small Ziploc bag, cutting a small hole in one corner, pressing to make lines and designs. We like to use coconut for “snow,” small cinnamon candies for stars and ornaments and, of course, lots and lots of sprinkles!
WITH CHILDREN THE lights of the holiday season are brighter. Christmas carols are more danceable. Expectations are bigger. And the list of events to do and see seems more unmanageable than ever!
This year our management of the holidays was off to a great start. A day after Thanksgiving, eggnog replaced cream in our morning coffee. The following day, Christmas decorations were brought down from storage, and, as a family, we had our first sighting of the Jolly Man in the Red Suit who arrived at the local mall via helicopter. Three days after Thanksgiving, Christmas lights around our home put our neighborhood on notice that this family was ready to celebrate.
Despite my best plans and intentions I have started to have small panic attacks about what else needs to be done, mailed, purchased and coordinated in the last 25 days of December.
I have not yet sent one Christmas card although friends with families are taunting me as some have already arrived in our mailbox. We have family that lives in England and their box of cheer should already be en route but it is not. I have purchased some gifts for the boys but lack a clear gift plan. I have some ideas of gifts for my partner but I am indecisive when I should be placing orders now ensuring the desired and purchased items arrive on time.
Our family has plans to take in the First Friday event in the downtown of the capital city visiting the various galleries and gift shops. This is a holiday tradition where we enjoy the hustle and bustle, holiday refreshments, carolers and a glimpse of old St. Nick! After years of talking about it to members of our family (yet to be decided), we will embark on a Holiday Lights Helicopter tour. Two members of our family will be attending the annual performance of the Nutcracker. For the first time in our Juneau experience of four plus years, I will miss the annual Governor’s Holiday Open House at the mansion on Dec. 9. Although I will be out of town, my partner and sons will be in attendance. This is a unique event that we enjoy and support whole-heartedly! Last year we finally made it to the live nativity here in town and drove through three times at the request of our oldest son. This will be on our Holiday To Do schedule this year.
Driving around town looking at Christmas lights is a fond memory I have of my youth and there are many areas throughout Juneau to participate in this activity. With the sun setting well before 4 p.m. this is an event that can be done at the end of a weekday. We do have one holiday work party to attend and we are planning a New Years Day open house at our residence for neighbors and friends.
Whatever the holiday event is, we do everything in our power to experience all of these activities and events as a family. Despite the moments of panic and the hustle, the family moments are what the holidays are about for us. The everlasting gift of children in our lives has made us more motivated to participate in the season. We see the lights with fresh eyes, hear the sounds with sharp ears and young curiosity makes us even more engaged in all of the activity that this month brings to our community and home.
IT'S WEEK THREE of a pre-Christmas deep freeze, and while our family still manages to get outside for a daily dose of fresh air, I will admit to savoring the delightful variety of exhibits and activities at three Alaska museums this month. December means bright lights, beautiful music and lots of opportunities for family togetherness, and we can’t wait to get started.
The Museum of the North on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus has unveiled a new exhibit just right for our frigid weather. “Hibernation and the Science of Cold” is a fascinating look at the strategies animals use to stay warm and survive when the weather turns really, really cold. Watch “hibernation-cams” and see real-time video of animals in deep hibernation, climb into a den, and answer the all-important question: “Did dinosaurs hibernate?” This is an excellent exhibit for second graders on up, especially those with a keen interest in natural science. The Museum of the North is also hosting a Family Day on Saturday, December 8, from noon–4 p.m. Raptors are the subject of this month’s event, and kids of any age are invited to stretch their wingspans with crafts, games and an interesting story or two. Admission to the museum is $10/adults, $5/age 7–17, with kids 6 and under free.
Juneau’s Alaska State Museum is open throughout the winter months, and is quite nice to visit with kids minus hordes of cruise ship crowds. Be sure to stop by the merchant ship, “I spy” display and interesting artifacts describing Juneau’s early days of mining and tourism. While not exactly suited for smaller children, the ship is a great place to play while grownups tag team the facility with older kids. Wintertime admission is a deal, too. $3/adults 18 and over. Nice.
Finally, the Anchorage Museum is kicking off a season of holiday happiness with their annual concert on Sunday, December 9. The Alaska Children’s Choir and Anchorage Concert Chorus are among the groups scheduled to perform between 1 and 4 p.m., with free admission to the museum all day, courtesy of Wells Fargo. The whole family will enjoy the Wonderland of Toys exhibit, featuring playthings from days gone by, and it’s worth the ensuing discussion with kids about ways kids used to amuse themselves before television, iPods and video games. On Sunday, December 16, everyone is invited to the museum for a Snow Day activity from 2-4 p.m. Learn about the science behind snow, try the Alaska Club-sponsored obstacle course, and create some snow-themed crafts. Good fun for all ages, preschool through high school!
Forget the cold; warm up from the inside out with these choices for indoor fun, all winter long!
Erin Kirkland is the publisher of AKontheGO.com, a website dedicated to Alaska family travel and outdoor recreation. She lives in Anchorage with her family, and is eternally grateful for handwarmers these past few weeks.
WE HAVE OFFICIALLY declared our plans to NOT give big shiny expensive gifts this year and instead we are giving handmade, homemade, recycled, upcycled, thrifted and, most importantly, useful items. We are thrilled, and our kids are little makers so this is right up their alley, too. Of course initially they were concerned about not getting toys and once we assured them that they would indeed get a few toys but also things they really needed they were on board, too. Our whole family has agreed to this including extended family and we are so happy. Right away the worries and the stresses of the season melted away and busy plans were drawn up. Everyone has a secret with someone else and it’s all so exciting.
I’ve been thinking through the gifts and things we’ve made together and showcased on my blog and came up with a list of gift ideas to share with you. These are all things we have done with our kids. They’ll need a bit of parental help but not much! And the pride your kids will experience in giving a gift from their hands and heart is well worth any effort you make.
1. Vanilla Latte Facial Scrub - This is a great gift for the coffee drinker in your life! It’s quick, easy to make, doesn’t require dusting and it smells great.
2. Bath Bombs - Who doesn’t love a good bath? These fuzzy bubbling bath bombs don’t require much in the way of expensive or odd ingredients and they are fun to make. And to give. And to receive. Yep, pretty much perfect.
3. Homemade Buttons - Handmade buttons from pennies or coins from other nations make a great present for all the grandpas in your kids’ lives. Of course making and SELLING them is completely against the law but making a set to give is legal. And pretty cool. This does take some planning and probably a garage space or a basement area to work in. Not hard just needs a bit of planning on the parental end.
4. KoolAid Playdough - Great present-making experience for the littles in your life. A wee bit of cooking, lots of squishing and then pack it up and give it away. Perfect for little attention spans and not a lot of time.
5. Dog Toys - This is a fun gift to make. It involves a little shopping, a little cutting and a little sewing. Best of all, it’s made to be destroyed so no one is left with a dust collector afterwards.
6. Magnets - Ahhhhh, finally something to do with a puzzle that’s lost a couple pieces. Super easy and super cute. Your kids can ALMOST make these on their own.
Of course, our kids have already made all these so what they are planning this year will be new and different. Oh, the secrets!
FAMILY VACATIONS ALWAYS go by too fast. We had a fantastic time, but now it’s back to the frantic got-to-get-everything-done-before-Christmas pace. I just want to hang onto the frivolity of vacation for a little while longer. That’s where this recipe for kalua pork comes in. I love it when recipes transport you back to a memory. I wanted one that transported me back to Hawaii.
Kalua pork is traditionally served at Hawaiian luaus. A pit is dug in the ground, where a fire is started to heat up rocks. When the rocks are hot and the fire is embers, an entire pig is placed in the pit, wrapped in banana and/or ti leaves. The hole is covered, and the pig is left to cook all day. At the luau we attended, the removal of the pig from the ground was a celebration and everyone gathered around to watch. It was the beginning of the party!
Now, digging a hole in the ground in the middle of winter in Alaska isn’t practical nor possible. I’ve discovered the next best thing: a slow cooker. For the Hawaiian flavor, I use Hawaiian alaea red sea salt and hickory liquid smoke. A new twist is using bananas to flavor the meat instead of banana leaves. I was skeptical at first. It seemed rather silly wrapping bananas up with the pork. I think it was subtle, but the bananas did impart some mild, sweet flavor to the meat during cooking.
The slow-cooker kalua pork tasted outstanding. Better yet, it only took five minutes of prep in the morning (you can also start the night before and leave the wrapped pork in the refrigerator and plop it in the slow-cooker in the morning). It cooked all day and smelled fantastic when I arrived home. Fast, easy, delicious and Hawaiian.
It did remind me of the fabulous time we had at the Hawaiian luau. Watching my daughter do the hula and my boys practice their fire dancing (with fake fire else my house burn down) was about as entertaining as watching the professionals. Now if only I could duplicate the weather…
Slow Cooker Kalua Pork
Inspired by Paula Deen’s Kalua Pig
4-5 pound pork roast (boston butt or shoulder)
1-1 ½ tablespoons alaea red sea salt OR coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon liquid smoke (find it in the grocery store by the BBQ sauces)
Trim pork roast of excess fat. Pierce with a fork to allow the salt and liquid smoke to penetrate the meat. Lay 2-3 long strips of aluminum foil on your work surface, overlapping slightly, then 2-3 more strips perpendicular to the first, to form a plus (+) sign. Place meat in the middle of the aluminum foil. Mix salt and liquid smoke in a small bowl to form a paste, then rub on all sides of pork. Lay bananas on the meat (just enough so it will still fit in your slow cooker when it’s wrapped up). Wrap up meat thoroughly and tightly with the foil. Place in your slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Carefully remove aluminum foil and bananas from the cooker, and shred meat with two forks. Keeping the meat in the slow cooker, let it sit in the juices on low heat until ready to serve. Add additional salt if needed.
Serve as a sandwich on sweet bread, or with rice or mashed potatoes. We added South Carolina BBQ sauce to ours. I’m intermixing my states, but it sure was good! Let the party begin!
THIS PAST WEEK our community lost two young men in a boating accident. One was 26 years old and a co-worker of mine about three years ago. He was friendly and personable and enjoyed by his peers. I remember him always reading classic literature when he had down time, which led to some in-depth conversations for a person of his age. When I saw him this past spring he was in great spirits and excited about his summer job with Alaska Department of Fish and Game. His smile was playful and sincere. I remember thinking that he seemed to be in a good place with some positive direction in his life. I was happy for him, as he had seemed to be searching for direction when we were working together. The second young man was 23 years old and I did not know him. They were brothers.
Yes, I am very sad for this loss of life at such a young age. I cannot imagine what the parents of these men must be going through. Every parent I have talked to about this tragedy echo the same sentiment; we hurt for their loss and their lives without their sons to follow. Most parents hope to be outlived by their offspring and when this does not happen it is a life-altering event.
As a brother and a parent of brothers this loss of life has affected me to my core. This past week just thinking about this event no matter what my setting has forced me to tears; my sympathy for the family is overwhelming. It’s hard to pinpoint my specific fears, feelings and reactions but I have been and continue to be moved!
This event has also reminded me that our boys are only ours to direct and guide for a short period of time and once they reach a certain juncture of life, how they live, what they do and what situations they put themselves into will be out of my control. This reality is also a reason for my numerous tears.
I continue to cherish all the moments with our boys and show them my love for them every opportunity that I get as I do not know what our future brings.
THIS WEEK I received a very interesting email from FlipKey, a company specializing in vacation rental properties all over the world. Besides providing a seemingly endless list of places to rent from here to Timbuktu, FlipKey also publishes a little blog about travel, and this week posted a nifty little tool for planning vacations--family vacations in particular.
I don’t know about your crew, but mine is a four-person carousel of uniqueness, especially when it comes to travel. The mere mention of an upcoming trip is enough to spark a rush of ideas, suggestions and downright demands from both children and adults. Add grandparents or friends to this mix, and wowee, there’s a whole lot of talking going on, resulting in little actual action.
So enter FlipKey and their “Find Your Way to the Perfect Family Vacation” blog post. While savvy KTD readers will remember my mantra that there is no such thing as a “perfect” vacation, I am sure we can all appreciate the efforts to at least attempt to discuss style when it comes to relaxing together. Check out the accompanying flow chart, using my favorite fashion statement, shoes. Like trips with a lot of action? Put on those peep-toe pumps and click-clack your way along the sidewalks of Seattle. Desire a mountain-high vacation with lots of hiking and exploring? Hiking boots, definitely.
The chart leads footwear (and ultimately the respective planning family) along a series of mazes to determine, hopefully, a blissful experience away from home.
I get it, and appreciate the breakdown of overarching vacation styles before drilling deeper for specific activities. But here are a few other ideas that might help Alaska families who really aren’t looking to head to Paris or the Bahamas (although who wouldn’t, given the opportunity?):
Be realistic. If your family consists of four people with truly diverse interests, the destination is going to have to match a wide range of expectations. Searching for a “base camp” with access to everyone’s preferred activity will be appreciated, and allow for gathering time at the beginning or end of the day. Also get used to the idea that a family doesn’t have to play together all the time. It’s okay to divide and conquer, but do schedule breakfast or dinner as a group to talk about plans or rehash important activities of the day.
Pay attention to time. Cramming a long list of activities into a day in a misguided attempt to appease everyone is a mistake, particularly when traveling with children. Too much activity means too-tired children, cranky adults and little time for just being together. Before leaving home, hold a family meeting where everyone gets to list their top two attractions or activities, and do your best to schedule those before jumping into something else. A week of vacation goes mighty fast when moving at breakneck speed, so remember to slow down and take in the view, too.
It’s a big, wide, world out there, and as much as we want to show it all to our kids, it’s also important to remember their needs and interests, and respect inherent individual nature.
What's your style?
YOU KNOW HOW winter gets, especially in Alaska—long, cold and dark. This year why not give your kids the gift of creativity for Christmas? Along with their regular presents, shock them with a box of possibilities? We’ve given variations of this theme to our kids pretty much ever since they were able to use tape. The ability to use their OWN foil to make endless boats to float in the tub or, during a warm spell, in a puddle, is amazing for kids. No longer do they have to use “only a little bit,” it’s all theirs; they get to make the decision to use it all or save it. For the record, we have one user (!) and one saver (!) and one too grown up to care much.
Give it to them in a box which they can then use to make something or else a crate or an under bed storage box to tuck it out of the way between creations. If you’re only giving them a few items, make sure you give them things that can work together, like the glue gun, paper and markers. You might laugh at some of the items on this list because they seem so normal to adults but these are guaranteed creativity inspirations.
1. Low Temp Glue Gun–Make sure to get a true low temp glue gun and your kids will spend hours cutting boxes into helmets or crowns.
2. Truly Good Pair of Scissors–Use your discretion here. What is truly good to a five year old (safety scissors if needed) is vastly different from a good pair of scissors for a ten year old. Whatever you pick make sure they are sturdy and sharp so they can cut safely.
3. A Roll of Aluminum Foil–Mix this up with the glue gun and your kids could be making armor, swords, bigger boats and the like.
4. 6-Pack of Scotch Tape–The first time a child used all my tape I KNEW it was a hit--I immediately put it on my gift list and it never fails to be a hit--plus side? You can usually pillage their supply if you run out
5. Large Pack of Markers—I bought one of these this fall on a whim and I didn’t actually see my kids for a couple days straight. They were BUSY creating castles, sunsets and oceans full of fish.
6. Sheaf of Paper—It goes hand in hand with markers but the glue gun works wonderfully well with it too. If you know how to fold paper into boats and hats, well, your kids will love to learn that, too.
7. Roll of Duct Tape–You know, for the jobs the scotch tape just can’t handle, like making a castle with moving parts or taping your brother to the wall (JOKING!!), a roll of duct tape makes building bigger things possible.
8. A Box of Boxes–All different size will suit the creators perfectly. Throw in some paper towel tubes and a kleenex box and they’ll be set.
9. Glue Sticks–Like regular glue but in a tube, and it sticks so much better than glue in a bottle.
10. A Ball of String–Or skein of yarn. Teach them to braid OR make cat toys OR do the cats cradle. There is so much fun to be had with string.
11. Paper Clips–A small jar or box of paper clips will give children the ability to make fishing poles (true story: our seven year old caught his first fish on a pole he made with a paper clip for a hook) or clip important pieces of paper together or bend and make swords for gnomes--the sky is the limit with paper clips.
12. Chenille–You know those furry covered wire things? Yep, that’s what I’m talking about here--a nice big pack and your kids can make just about anything with them including, but not limited to, an advent wreath.
13. Rubber Bands–Don’t teach them how to shoot them unless you don’t mind them shooting them everywhere. Otherwise rubber bands can be used to make a paddle wheel boat or for lashing things together.
As you can guess, our kids don’t get television or Nintendo and we don’t have cable either so they are left to their own devices as far as entertaining themselves. They love boxes full of STUFF to make OTHER STUFF with. But here’s the thing: even kids who get television and life handed to them on a silver platter LOVE this stuff, too. Kids are makers.