Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fast Forward

After a rather cool Spring, we have had several days in the 90s (It has since dropped 30 degrees in 12 hours, but that's another post!).

The most astonishing byproduct of the heat wave has been watching our slowly unfolding Spring suddenly switch to fast forward.

Our silver maple shook out her little green parasols and is abruptly covered in leaves. Mxyl's alien tulips are in their full (bizarre) glory. Our last daffodils went pffffft. Our viburnum switched from green to white overnight. And Blue Streak turned from blue to yellow.


I have never seen this much pollen at one time! It lies thickly on the side of the road and passing cars swirl up clouds of yellow. People who have never thought of having hay fever are now sneezing and coughing and convinced they have the swine flu (but that's another post!).

On Monday, I let the kids wash Blue Streak. Not so much to clean the van as to cool off and play with the hose. A good thing, too! The yellow dust resettled before the water dried. I am hoping to sample some pollen and try looking at it under the microscope.

On the plus side, the combination of very damp ground (from days of rain before the heat wave) and the warm temps have given the annuals the kids picked out a great start!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Random Comment

From Leena, said in the cheeriest tone imaginable:
"Can I ring the dinner bell? I want to give them a dreadful fright!"

(If you must know, yes, I let her ring the bell. As the kids sat down to dinner, I watched for signs of PTSD, but they all seem OK.)

I a Garbage Truck with a Robot Arm, Mommy!


You would think having a kid pretending he is a garbage truck would make your house cleaner.

You would be very very wrong.

He does collect a great deal of "trash." Some of it even is trash (or at least recycling)!

However, the "robot arm" part dumps it all backwards over his head.

He's so cute! And so delighted!

So, why do I feel... a little... down in the dumps?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Of Moms and Memes

I've been tagged by Her Majesty to tell 5 things I like about motherhood.

1. I like short people. The most amazing thing about these little people is that they are people. Each one their very own special someone from the very beginning. I like to watch as they become more and more who they really are.

2. I like it that I'm doing something important and unique. When I was a researcher, my work was important, but now someone has my old job. These kids only get one Mom. For me that gives me a lot of focus: I want to be the best Mom to each kid that I can. It has stretched me and stimulated me in ways I could never have imagined.

3. I am never bored. Always something to do! It's not that there aren't tedious parts (every job has them), but at every age and every stage there is something there to delight in that will never be there again.

4. I am a better, happier person. I like to have fun! I like to try new things. I like to try wild and crazy ideas that just might work... I like to learn about the world. I like to wonder about things. I like to go places. I like being a kinder, more loving, more organized, less self centered, less judgmental, more compassionate person. I like to meet space aliens.

5. I like being a savvy investor. The bits of stock we owned tanked. The kids, however, lost none of their value!!!!

I'd like to tag Kate in NJ and Tracy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

We've been on a big recycling kick for the last few weeks. It started when our cousins asked if we wanted to go on a tour of the Montgomery County Recycling Plant.

Not a hard question!

It was fantastic! They gave a presentation on the hows and whys of recycling and how their system works, and then we were off to tour the plant.

I must say, this was brilliantly designed! You walk around on an upper level walkway that lets you see all the action in the plant as well as a view (through the windows) of the recycling trucks unloading and the front wheeled loaders at work!

Choclo was in heaven! He was inside a truck video!!! How we ever got him out of there is still a mystery.

Seeing the bales of plastic and metal brought it home in a way that nagging never could: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

They gave us some coloring books as we were leaving and we ended up doing a lot of other web based activities. We all had a great time!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Loving Kids

A very kind guest recently remarked on how well the Zoomlians get along. The fact is that the Zoomlians don't always get along! But still, "They really love each other." is an awfully nice thing to hear about your kids, and I know it's true.

I've been hesitant to write this post because my kids aren't perfect and our parenting isn't perfect, but I would like to say two things that have worked for us.

1 We actively teach our kids to love each other. Most of it is "caught" instead of "taught," of course, but we also teach it. A big part of that is pointing out any loving behavior and saying, "Oh, look how much she loves you! Wasn't that a nice thing?" (We actually start that when they are babies- any smile is proof of affection!) Another is using it as a starting point when there are disagreements or arguments: "I know you two love each other, so I don't think you are trying to hurt each others feelings. Can you figure out what is going on here/ a good way to fix it so it's fair to both of you?"

2 We try to give and ask for loving behavior. No sarcasm allowed. Apologies when mess ups happen. When we are having a rough day, explaining it and asking for mercy. This morning I woke the kids up and told them, "I was up 7 times last night and I'm really tired this morning. Could you all just get ready without me asking over and over? " They gave me hugs and Zorg gave me a backrub (!) and all zipped around and helped with breakfast. I don't think I've ever asked for help as a personal favor and not had the kids rise to the occasion (I have, of course, demanded help and not gotten it!). I think there is something important about kids being able to give and not be on the receiving end all the time.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Big Plans

Lots of great stuff going on!

We've started a major excursion into Astronomy with an emphasis on space exploration! The centerpiece of this is the 4 co-op classes I am teaching (starting this Wednesday). I am teaching Rocket Science! Well, OK, Model Rocket Science!

My dear friend Mrs. B has managed to charm the socks off of Choclo and Oob, which means they are willing to stay at her house, which means I can teach without them!! Dear as they are, they make physics demonstrations difficult.

I will be teaching Newton's Laws of Motion , some chemistry, and how to build rockets. We'll do a rocket each class with the last class devoted to building the ones that will be launched at NASA Goddard!

So, I have been designing stuff for my guys based around the classes. So far we've done a great book on the big bang, started The Young Astronomer, and built the telescope we got for Christmas! And watched some amazing library videos.

I am planning to also use a moon phases kit, Google Space, Google Mars, There's No Place Like Space, random library books, lots of model making, and our local observatory. And the sky. We may do the Air & Space Museum, or the Annex. NASA Goddard also has a great mini museum with real rockets.

So far, we're having a blast!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

We're Off!

Spring has sprung! We tend to do more of what most people recognize as school when it's too cold/hot/wet out to do much else. When the weather warms, the sun shines and the flowers bloom, we're off and running!

Here we are running back through the Dogwood Garden at the National Arboretum. I think this is an under appreciated part of the Arboretum. It isn't as flower heavy as many parts, nor as densely planted.

The closest I can come to explaining it is that it feels like strolling in a Jane Austen novel.

There is something very pleasing about the proportions of the lawn, the wild forest on one side and the sweeping islands of trees on the other. Of course, when the dogwoods are blooming, it's magical! They are interplanted with mature trees and evergreens so that the clouds of blossoms glow and float in lush clouds.

This visit was at the very start of the bloom, the fountain was still dry, but it was a jeweled experience of Spring. The trees were brushed with pale green ("Nature's first green is gold..."). The new leaves cast dappled shadows on the emerald carpet, and great swathes of that magnificent lawn sparkled with white and purple violets!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Garden Time

This time of year, calendar time gives way to garden time. It starts with Snowdrop Time - which means it will be Crocus Time soon! We are now just past the Time of the Popcorn Trees (flowering pears to most of the world) and past peak for daffodils and tiptoeing into Tulip Time.

All of this is linked to garden chores: daffodils blooming means it's time to plant peas and lettuce. When the lilacs start to bloom, we'll know the tomatoes will be happy outside. And of course, it's never a bad time to weed...

It's a little odd to me because I grew up farther north and at a higher elevation. There Rose Time was solidly in June. Here that's early May. Oob was born in Rose Time, and one of my fondest memories is of rocking him on the front porch beneath a bower of roses, tickling his cheeks with baby soft rose petals.

What time is it where you are?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Guest Blog: Zorg

Yikes! The alien egg!

I made an Easter egg and I put all the colors on it. I put so much color on it that it turned into a Zoomlian egg!

I made me look mad so it would be more freaky.

If you click on the picture you can see why it's an alien egg.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gardens Galore

Last Fall, I took the older four Zoomlians to the garden center and let them pick out Spring flowering bulbs... Klenda and Zorg's gardens are now at peak with Mxyl and Leena's gardens not far behind. The top garden is Klenda's and the bottom one is Zorg's!

More recently, I let them pick out seeds. Now to get the main garden ready for planting!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Exciting Package!

Klenda got a very exciting package in the mail today...

It was the poncho her great grandmother has been weaving for her!!

She is debating which side she wants to wear as the outside, but has already decided that this is her new Sunday "coat!"

And that it beyond beautiful and well into "Queenly!"

And she picked the yellow tassel!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hoppy Easter from Zoom!

That's the "After Easter Baskets" version. If you prefer the "Before Mass" version:
Zorg isn't actually opposed to Easter, he just doesn't like the camera flash!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Uh Huh Uh Huh Uh Huh

Warning: This will get in your head and drive you crazy. Especially since your kids will want to watch it a zillion times.

Watching Oob and squeal with delight, and Choclo go into giggle fits, it was worth it to me!

Also, I discovered this morning, it's easy to do on your own and is good for breaking up tantrums! How's that for news you can use?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

More Pictures from the Visit

Did I mention my Mom was the one driving Fr. Pinto around on this side of the country? (We loved having time with you too, Mom!) Here she is holding our parakeets, Joy and Peace.

That's Joy on Fr. Pinto's head.

And here is Klenda curled up and listening to stories.

And Oob, of course. Oob really really bonded with Fr. Pinto! This is a good thing because he is Fr. Pinto's namesake! On the other hand, when Father left, Oob cried and cried. He's back to happy general destruction now, however. It's amazing how much you can get into when you can haul around the chairs!

The Best Reason to be Busy!

We had a fantastic visit with our dearly loved Fr. Pinto!

He told us wonderful stories (if you ever thought holiness was boring, now there is a man with an interesting life!).

He showed us how to cook chapatis!

He said Mass for us and consecrated our chalice!

We watched Ostrov!

We went to DC and did the Natural History Museum (my personal favorite and the one that always seems to lose out to Air and Space with house guests)!

He gave talks on finding your personal path to holiness!

Mostly we just enjoyed sitting and talking over many many cups of tea...

He is very encouraging and very loving and patient with kids (and adults!). I know many more people that like kids in the abstract than really enjoy being with them (especially a lot of them) and he falls into that rare second category.

The only down side was that when he left the kids dissolved into a flood of tears... But we are feeling better and hope he comes back soon!!

Sunday Gospel Dessert: Weeks 5 and Palm Sunday

Week 5 had the Gospel which included "Unless the grain of wheat fall to the ground..." So I did a giant filled cookie to look like an ear of wheat. Alas, it spread out to look like this. But it was very tasty!

I made the filling by soaking raisins until plump, then adding candied orange and lemon peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla, than pulsing in the food processor (with the soaking water) until I had a smooth soft paste. I tasted and added brown sugar until I thought it had the right "rich sweetness". The cookie was a standard sugar cookie with cream cheese for half the butter and powdered sugar for half the sugar. This gave it a lovely texture and cut the sweetness a bit so the filling could shine. I should have used more flour to make the dough stiffer (wouldn't have spread), but I was in a hurry!

Today was Palm Sundae.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Guest Post: Mxyl & Klenda

Hi there, all you cute little earthlings! Mxyl and Klenda here. We're sorry that our mom hasn't been
blogging for a while because we were VERY busy with painting our rooms! Mom's already blogged about Klenda's, but I (Mxyl) painted my room silver to look like the inside of a spaceship! Mom's had Zorg and I paint control boards!

Then, Fr. Santan Pinto, S.O.L.T., came over for a long weekend, but we didn't have enough time to add a blog then, either. He's written a lot of religious books.

She'll blog again soon!