Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy All Hallows Eve!

Oob was St. George. Ahhh, an easy costume taken entirely from the dress up bin. I knew that someday, somehow, somewhere we would do a super easy costume.
Choclo was an "Angel of God." If you aren't Catholic, that's how the Guardian Angel Prayer starts. He loved being an angel. I had intended to have Oob be an angel and Choclo St. George, but they both loved the other costume. LOL! Sometimes it all works out! This was a white robe and wings from from the dress up bin and a strand of yarn. Easy peasy!

Leena was St. Helen. She was a queen, an empress, actually. She was the mother of Emperor Constantine, the one who legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire. She also found the cross Jesus died on.

Another easy costume! Mumpy found the dress, we had the cross, and I made the crown out of aluminum foil. I took a long strip and folded it to give 8 layers, then cut points, being careful to leave the tip of the points connecting so it would all stay stiff. I then crimped the back so it would fit her head.

Zorg was his much loved St. Joseph. This was the one costume I knew I would need to sew. I had a long medium brown tunic. I had a second, darker brown tunic that I thought I'd cut down the center to get an outer mantle with sleeves. This is actually the costume you see here (along with face paint and a big stick).

However, since everything was going too smoothly, I decided the two browns were too close. I looked through my stash and found a nice light brown that I thought would do well for the mantle. Two extra bonus points if you can see where this is going. I didn't until I had finished the mantle and he had put it on.

Yes! I had made the perfect Jedi Master costume! Who would look at it and see St. Joseph??? I went back to plan A. I'll put a Jedi picture at the bottom.

Klenda was St. Lucy. She was an early Roman martyr who, in Klenda's words, "loved Christ so much that when told to say she wasn't a Christian or they'd put her eyes out, refused to renounce Christ."

Traditionally, St. Lucy is pictured with her eyes on a plate. She is usually pictured with eyes in her head as well, but I could not convince Klenda that this was a workable plan. She closed her eyes for all the pictures. I also think she isn't traditionally shown telling people not to touch her "eye pad."

This was a fairly easy costume. The dress is close to the actual outfit a Roman girl would have worn, she's wearing a shirt and pants instead of a tunica, but the stola is quite accurate - a left over from our Plutarch party. Since she did the plate and eyes herself, this was an easy one for me!

This is Mxyl's last year dressing up and he went with St. Michael.

A very buff St. Michael!

We got the tunic at the thrift store, ripped out the arms and stuffed a turtleneck to give him big muscles. The belt was his. The wings and sword were from the dress up bin.

Our angels together!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Adventurers and Lil Adventurers Part 2

Last week it was the Washington Monument. I had never been there, and it was really neat. Well worth getting tickets. The tickets are free, but there's a $1 a ticket charge to get them online instead of getting in line for them at 8 am. Well worth it, IMHO! We also went on to a brief visit at the WWII Memorial. This was a new monument to me and all I can say is that it was amazing in a way that the pictures don't capture. I thought it would be nice, but it was fabulous. Also, Choclo thought the fountains were a birthday cake.

This week it was the Archives. I knew from last year that this would not be a great place for Choclo and Oob: dimly lit documents are not their thing! They have so much stuff for older kids, though, the other Adventurers loved it! They got a mini course in geneaology and how to research primary documents. Looking at it, that doesn't sound fun, but every kid was riveted. You can access a lot of it at their Digital Vaults.

I knew better than to take Choclo and Oob to the Archives, so how did this work? My Shotgun Buddy took the Adventurers and I took the Lil Adventurers. Specifically, I took them to stomp in puddles on the National Mall. It was a day of intermittent torrential rain. I had enough foresight to put the Lil guys in rain gear and to wear my big Wellies.

The National Mall is grass surrounded by coarse sand paths, and the the big sandy puddles made quite a fascinating sensory experience.

The Lil guys got wetter than fish (and some odd looks), but had a wonderful time!

We also took a detour through the sculpture gardens and stopped to smell the flowers.

Providence was kind enough to have it not rain the entire two hours we were there. About the time we all met back at Blue Streak, the first drops were falling again, and it very shortly became a downpour fierce enough that you couldn't hear anything except the rain pounding on the car. A perfect day!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Adventurers and Lil Adventurers Part 1

We've had a great time with the Adventurers this semester. My Shotgun Buddy and I are taking a group of ten kids on a field trip every week for our homeschool co-op. This year, I have Mxyl and Klenda as well as Choclo and Oob (and 6 other kids).

We started off with three weeks of the Air and Space Museum. Seriously, that's about how long it takes to do it thoroughly in two hour bites. We didn't even get to everything, but we hit the big stuff for our kids.

Next we did the Capitol Building - the older kids loved the inside, Choclo and Oob loved the duck pond. You can get (free) tickets here. The tours are one hour and very well done.

Then it was the Bonsai garden at the Arboretum. They were quite fascinated by the giant tiny trees.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Keets!

No, I said, we can not get more parakeets.
Why on Earth would we get more parakeets?

Then I saw the birds the girls were talking about.
Turns out the answer is: because they are so beautiful!

The white one is Peace and Justice. She is all white but not albino we think she is a dark eyed clear (her eyes are dark).
The pastel yellow and blue one is Faith. We think she is a yellow faced graywing, or possibly a yellow faced dilute. Her color is a little darker than this picture shows.

We quarantined them for while, but they've now been accepted by the flock. They've taken to us as well. Joy, our "daddykeet", keeps trying to teach them to fly, a little tough since their wings have been clipped!

More on parakeet genetics here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Trials of Furno Part 3

Next thing I knew I was on my bike, heading for a basketball court .05 miles away.

There were reports of Meltdown in that sector, and I wanted the 1st crack at him.

I looked at the on-bike map: ‘Lat.5300 Lon.670.’ I was about a minute away

(That’s 60 seconds— does this rustbucket run on cheap batteries or what???).

Suddenly the ground exploded in front of me! I just had time to leap off my

bike before it exploded on contact with a… NUCLEAR TENTACLE???

Yup. Looks like I’ve just found my Meltdown. I skidded to a stop right in front of him.

Sure enough, he was at the basketball court. And he was mad. I wonder who he was

so steamed up about? “WHAT’S THIS? THEY SEND A ROOKIE TO CHALLENGE ME? ME, MELTDOWN, THE MIGHTY AND MERCILESS???? He roared. I guess he was mad at me. I instantly realized

this wasn’t going to be easy. He lashed his tentacles at me. I also saw that anger had clouded his judgment. Hmm. Maybe it will be easy. I quickly lifted my double- fire

blaster, but a huge tentacle whipped around it and snatched it out of my hand.



Saturday, October 23, 2010

Trials of Furno Part 2

Someday, I thought, I’ll show them. Just because I blew up the 1st training room

doesn’t mean I’m a useless rookie. The only question is: when?

It sometimes seems that the only people who care about me are Mark and Natalie,

known in battle as Surge and Breez. But they never will understand. I mean, Mark has

Dunkan Bulk, who’s the nicest Hero ever to be a trainer. Nat’s got Stringer, and I think

he has this thing about her and - - nevermind. A-N-Y-W-A-Y…They’re the only ones who seem to even think that I actually exist outside battle. And I get stuck with

‘alpha leader’ Preston Stormer, who ends up being a total grou- I’d better stop now

‘cuz there’s a camera in my room… AW, WHO CARES?????!!!! I turned to

the camera, lost my cool and said, “HEY, YOU! YEA, YOU! YOU'RE A TOTAL

GROUCHY JERK!!! YEA, PRESSY!” THAT did the trick. Stormer HATES it when

I call him that. Believe me, I’ve got wounds to show it! “William Furno!!! You will

report to my study. NOW!!!” All of a sudden, I didn’t think I was so bright anymore.

I was there in .002 seconds on the dot. Stormer appreciates punctuality, and I need all

the edge I can get. “You’re .002 seconds late,” he grumbled. “Sorry, sir, It’s just

that I was getting bored out of my brains…or… whatever was in there.”

“I could’ve guessed you didn’t have any. on 2nd thought…” [Uh-oh] “…You know…

You’re always dreaming of going on missions…am I right?” “Right…” I replied after

slight hesitation. ‘what are you thinking, you big ninny? Of course you’ve been dreaming of that… ever since you’ve been made!’ Of coarse, you never can tell with Stormer,

I told my conscience back. “Well, how about a compromise;” said Stormer.

“I send you on a few real missions and see how you do, and if you do well, you get more missions. If you don’t do so well, I’ll have a jet ready to pick you up. How does that sound?” DEAL!” I shouted, no hesitation this time. “then let’s test you out.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

Trials of Furno Part 1

This is a story Klenda and Mxyl have been working on.

Meltdown was right behind me; I could feel it in the ground as his huge footsteps thundered after me, his nuclear tentacles annihilating all the trees they even brushed against. Suddenly, I felt a weakness overcoming me. I glanced down.

My Mighty Hero Power Core was slowly dimming. Darn, I thought to myself, And I was just losing him. I was so deep in my thoughts that I didn’t see that huge rock looming up ahead.

What rock? The one that’s 200 feet away. No,100. Er,50. Um- WHAM!!!!!

I fell… And fell… and fell right into reality. As I stumbled out of the 2nd training room,

Stormer was there, shaking his head in disapproval .“I’m disappointed in you, kid. if that were real, you wouldn’t be here.” I’d once told him that HE

didn’t go on missions nearly that dangerous. He completely agreed… his missions were even MORE dangerous! But sir,” I argued, “If that were real, and if you’d recharged

my Mighty Hero Power Core, I’d be a HERO! A STAR! I’D BE...” “SKELETON.” Stormer had to finish my sentence.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Apple Picking, Actually!

The Emperor had off on Friday and we went actual apple picking (as opposed to last time when we actually picked raspberries).

We had a great time: blue skies, puffy clouds, nippy breeze, warm sun, changing leaves, lots of kids and beautiful apples.

They picked 50 pounds of apples in less time than it took to type this. I 'm thinking of hiring them out for field work...

So far we've made apple shortcake (and eaten apples, of course), but I see apple pies, apple pancakes, apple turnovers, applesauce, apple butter, apple fritters, apple crisp, apple dippers, and caramel apples on the horizon.

Did I mention that they also picked 100 pounds of pumpkins? We are rethinking the "You can have any pumpkin you can pick up." rule.

On the other hand, the front porch looks nicer than it ever has for Fall! The flowers are Sedum Autumn Joy, and the grass is a burgandy Miscanthus, both from our yard.

As soon as we got home, I had the kids draw faces (and what not) on their pumpkins with permanent marker. I also wrote their names on each pumpkin.

I'm hoping this will prevent an evil pumpkin theft like the one we had last year. We can only hope!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

US History: Civil War

We've been moving on through the Civil War....slowly. I've found we can't get as "into" the Civil War as we have with other parts of our mega-unit because it's just too overwhelming. Too much death, too much destruction.

I've been reading to the kids twice a week from Brown Paper School: Civil War. I like the way they present things in the form of stories, plays, and first person narratives. I usually have the kids draw or color pictures as I read.

I was a bit concerned that the kids were still getting it mostly as a run-together list of battles, so I was on the lookout for other resources. I found Big Fish's Civil War game helpful for this. It is a hidden pictures game, but it has several narrative threads from different perspectives which run through the game (as well as a rather silly treasure hunt).

All of the scenes are battle locations (although, of course, you always seem to be looking for some things make no sense in that context!). Best of all, when you "solve" a battlefield, it is marked by a Confederate or Union flag based on which side actually won the battle. This was very helpful, especially at the beginning when the South seems to be winning every battle (which actually had my kids worried!).

If you are a Southerner, I should warn you that the Confederates are presented as the bad guys.

I also found the Comics Illustrated version of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and several other Civil War comics.

I am hoping to finish up by the end of this month...We'll see!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Old Spice

I'm not sure I can articulate exactly why I find the Old Spice commercial so offensive.


Yes, I know the commercial is intentionally a parody. It just bugs me.

On the other hand, I find the parodies of the parody absolutely hilarious. Go figure!

Here's my favorite with a big hat tip to Zoe at Inside Catholic:

Sunday, October 10, 2010


How many Band-Aids will a three year old put on himself if he has absolutely no injury of any kind?

Answer: How many are there?

In this case, there were 13 left in the box.

Naturally, he insisted that they all must be removed before he could go to bed.

This picture also answers the question: Where does Oob put his tongue when he is concentrating?

Saturday, October 9, 2010


And the temperatures have blessedly fallen. It must be time to do those summer crafts we never got around to!

So we tie dyed shirts as this weeks big art project.

I have a theory that as the bigger kids get bigger, it gets harder to do big messy art projects because they get squeezed out of the schedule.

This is kinda hard for the younger kids who sit around staying sadly clean all day. When Mxyl and Klenda were this age, they needed a bath several times a day!

This year I decided to try for one truly messy project every other week. So far, so good. The Lil Guys are enjoying the extra baths.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Why am I satisfied to have that many bins and bags crowding the library?

Because they are all that's left of the Great Seasonal Clothing Change!

Yes! We have shirts, sweaters, dresses, slacks, jeans, underwear, socks, PJs, sneakers, church shoes, snow boots, snow pants, jackets, coats, raincoats, gloves, and all the other zillion necessary items for Fall and Winter for ALL SIX KIDS!!!

For me, this is a triumph of epic proportions (and helps explain why I abandoned the computer for a week and a half).

Sweetest of all: The Emperor has volunteered to haul all the bins back down two flights of stairs and stow them in the back basement!!

I LOVE this man!!!

And I don't want to see any more clothes for a week.

Scratch that. Zoomlians: Keep wearing clothes!