Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Poster Post

We've been studying the virtues with this poster since September. I drew the symbols lightly in pencil and we colored them in as we came to each virtue. It was cool seeing the "invisible" virtues pop into color!

This was pretty simple. I explained what the virtue was and then asked them for examples. We tried for an Old testament example, a New Testament example, something from the life of a saint, and some way they could practice it. We ended up with examples from stories sometimes, and we tried to practice the virtue and notice others with the virtue. We probably did this on and off for a week or so for each virtue. I think we skipped some weeks - I have a hard time keeping focused on things (I think we started this during the Egypt high tide).

The lettering is done in the BioColor gold paint from DSS. I love it because it really shines like gold, but it's hard to read in parts of the picture! The cross says "Faith," the anchor says "Hope," and the shield says "Temperance."

This poster will be coming down next week end when we strip the walls to make way for all of the Advent and Christmas stuff. Our walls are usually pretty heavily decorated, so I actually enjoy the dramatically bare beginning of Advent. We add a decoration a day (not counting kid projects) so everything fills up gradually.

Speaking of which...
This past Sunday was the feast of Christ the King! I am in no way as artistically ept (can one be ept, or just inept?) as the poster looks. I used my super cheap opaque projector. It's basically an enclosed light bulb and mirror. It can only be used for 15 minutes at a time and the room must be completely dark... but other than that, it's great!!! I traced it from a picture I found on the internet, and the kids colored it in and decorated it. We used that BioColor gold again and rhinestones (also from DSS). I think Klenda added the Sacred Heart. Zorg said, "It looks live action!!"

I will reuse this poster as the "Christ will Come in Majesty" poster. I am hoping to have three posters of this size (~3' x 4' from my Big Roll of Paper [is this turning into a DSS commercial?]) hanging side by side on the dining room wall.

I still need to make "Christ Came in History" and "Christ Comes in Mystery." The "History" one will be a nativity scene (outlined at night in 15 minutes!) and the Mystery one will be the Eucharist, probably drawn freehand. The kids will color and paint them, and probably decorate the edges with construction paper. I don't know how to explain that, but it makes the posters look more like banners. We use fancy shape scissors and cut out decorations for the corners (think of old fashioned photo corners) and also fringe for the bottom.

Gingerbread Update!

The Zoomlians took the gingerbread contest by storm! Mxyl got fourth place and Klenda took second as well as "Most Creative!"

Saturday, November 22, 2008


2 weeks, 12 egg whites, 6 batches of royal icing, 4 batches of gingerbread, 3 batches of hard candy, 7 bags of store bought candy, and nearly 14 pounds of powdered sugar later... We have gingerbread!

This year's entries:

Zorg's Super Christmas.
The house and yard are covered with superheroes and super villains doing battle!

That's Spiderman fighting Sandman on the roof.

Wolverine with a tied up Sabertooth is on the left.

Superman (with the cape) is in the middle with Lex Luthor (whose head has been knocked off!).

Iron Man is against the house having just thrown Iron Monger through the fence.

Next we have Klenda with Worst. Christmas. Ever.

Yes! It is a gingerbread Godzilla trashing a gingerbread city with his horrible cotton candy breath!

The rules of the contest state that the base must be plywood and everything else must be edible (except for electric lights) not even a candy wrapper is allowed!

Klenda went with the gumdrop and candy cane lights. She has tons of detail, from scorched gingerbread to careful cracks.

Last, but not least, we have Mxyl with So Maybe it Wasn't Reindeer!

We have a sweet little house, forest, and skating pond as well as a UFO with present bearing alien.

We also have a dozen or so little people reacting with everything from shock (fainted), fear (hiding in the woods), to delight (trying to climb the UFO to get the presents).
Did I mention that Leena wants to do one too?

She is too young to enter the contest, so she will do hers next week...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mystery Science Friday...

Today is the feast of St. Albert the Great, teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas, Bishop, Naturalist, Patron Saint of Scientists, and one of my all time favorites!

But today we are working on gingerbread.

So we decided to celebrate yesterday!

I had nothing prepared, so I hauled out 8 of our many books of science experiments and turned the Zoomlians loose.

Leena started off with an interesting pressure experiment. Fill and cap a water bottle and poke a hole near the bottom with a push pin. Nothing happens. Until you squeeze the bottle at all. If you, say, grab the bottle to pick it up, you get a very forceful stream of water. Fortunately, she did not figure out the implications of this for mayhem. She was distracted by Klenda's experiment.

Klenda strung string between chairs and was exploring "equal and opposite reactions". She had a straw on the string and taped a balloon to the straw. She would blow up the balloon, then let it go sailing along the string. Then she noticed what Zorg was doing and decided she wanted a diver, too.

Zorg had cut a diver out of foil and attached air tanks (the bendy part of a straw) with a paper clip. Another paperclip at his feet made him bob upright. He put the little diver into a 2 liter soda bottle filled with water and put the cap on. After a few adjustments (more or less foil), the diver floated at the top. When you squeezed the bottle, the increased water pressure compressed the air in the straw and the diver sank. When you let go, the diver surfaced. Mxyl immediately started work on a robot diver.

The Mxyl got interested in experimenting with fire. He found different sizes of canning jars and a candle, and then experimented to see how long it took for the candle to use up the oxygen in the different sized jars. Everyone found this fascinating!

Zorg then got interested in making wine glasses "sing" with vibrations made by rubbing his finger on the rim of the glass. Different sized glasses and different amounts of water changed the pitch. All 4 Zoomlians figured out how to work together to make different chords and then performed a concert of Zoomlian music. It was unearthly, but beautiful!

We did other science stuff, too. Bill Nye, Magic School Bus and Brain Pop. Videos, books, and computer games are great, but there's nothing like time in the lab!

Wild Beaver Attack!

Even I had to admit it. Oob was starting to look a bit... unsavory. He needed a shave and a haircut.

You must know why I put it off so long: equal parts reluctance to admit my baby was getting bigger and dread of bringing a sharp object anywhere near the head of someone who starts and looks around when he hears scissors.

And dread of what he would like afterwords.

I'm not proud. When I did this with Mxyl the first time, it came out so badly that I resorted to the claim that wild beavers had broken into the house and chewed on my baby's head. Ever since, we've referred to toddler haircuts as Wild Beaver Attacks.

All things considered, the beavers were kind to Oob. They even licked his face clean.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Super Girls' Night and Stuff

We've been busy neglecting the blog...

We had Super Girls' Night last Friday and the boys came too. Why not, we were making lip balm! We ended up with 5 flavors: Zorg made Strawberries and Cream, Leena made Raspberry Coconut, Klenda made Watermelon Cream, and Mxyl made Eggnog lip balm. Yum! Yum! Some will be for us, and some for Christmas presents. If you've never made lip balm, LorAnn Oils has a very nice kit. The only thing we did differently was to heat the mix in the microwave instead of a water bath.

I don't know if I've mentioned LorAnn oils before, but I love them! Besides lip balm/soap/aromatherapy stuff, they sell candy flavorings and essential oils. I use them to flavor teas, baked goods, coffee syrups, and all kinds of things. For example, our latest favorite cookie is chocolate cherry chocolate chip. Just take your normal chocolate chip cookie recipe, add 1/3- 1/2 c. cocoa and add 1/4 tsp cherry flavoring when you add the vanilla. We also like these cookies with peppermint oil instead of the cherry: just like thin mints but chewy!

One word of warning, the oils are very concentrated: I use 6 drops to flavor a gallon of iced tea. If it is water soluble, I add it at the end, if it is oil based, I add the drops to the plain tea bags before steeping. I love to use them in scones, pies, quick breads and eggnog.


Realistically, most of our time and attention has been devoted to gingerbread.

Yes, we are entering the gingerbread competition this year, at least Mxyl, Klenda, and Zorg are. They are due in Sunday 11/23, so you may not see too much posting until then :0, but they will be worth the wait!!! The Zoomlians had some truly fantastic ideas!


Oob report: Oob wants to walk everywhere at top speed. He can't quite run yet, it's more like a quick trot, but off he goes, falls over, picks himself up, and is off at top speed again. He has started walking maybe 1/4 mile of our 2 mile morning hikes. Walking through leaves is enchanting, and can not be done enough...

Most of the time he likes to do laps around the inside of the house with Choclo, chasing each other giggling. They have reached the Nutty Buddy stage! They like to run and giggle and be tickled. And he has started napping longer. What's not to like?

I am very nearly done with Christmas presents. In fact, we've started wrapping the stuff to ship!

I am also getting ready for Advent. I think this year's theme will be "Christ Came in History, Christ Comes in Mystery, Christ Will Come in Majesty!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Home school field trip: OK kids, let's go participate in democracy!

We got there 10 minutes before the polls opened and had 104 people in front of us. I mean that literally since the Emperor has Super Fast Head Counting as one of his many super powers.

Actually, it wasn't bad, only half an hour as opposed to the 2 hours it took in the last presidential election. They had streamlined things quite a bit and had doubled the number of voting machines.

We did the elections movies on Brainpop (I believe at least one of them is free). We watched So You Want to be President? and we did packets based on the elections stuff at Enchanted Learning.

Also at Enchanted Learning, we got some nice electoral maps to color in as the results come in tonight. They even had spaces to check off Democrat or Republican for each state. Very nice!

And we are watching this:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

All Hallows Eve

And this years saints are:

St. Elizabeth of Hungary (Leena). This queen was so generous to the poor that her husband was worried that there wouldn't be enough to eat at the palace. One winter day, he saw her go out with her cloak full of bread for the poor. When he demanded that she open her cloak, it was miraculously full of roses.

David, as in David and Goliath. That's Goliath's head being used as a candy holder - you put it into his open neck... This was totally Zorg's idea, and he did a great job on the head right down to the red spot on the forehead ("That's where I killed him!" Zorg explains with gusto). He also has a sling and a pouch with stones.

Here we have St. Raphael, the archangel (Klenda) and Tobiah (Mxyl) with a really creepy looking fish candy holder.
They are from the book of Tobit. If you are protestant and you don't know this fantastic story, it is well worth looking it up in your apocrypha.

Finally we have Daniel (Choclo) and a lion (Oob in his first ever shoe wearing role). Klenda kindly offered to pull double duty as the angel closing the lion's mouth, but after Oob saw the candy, it didn't seem like such a great idea.

If you are thinking the last two are looking aggrieved, well, I did devote a lot more brain power to the costumes for Kids Old Enough to Have Their Own Ideas. Don't worry, they are now in a happy sugar stupor.