Friday, March 30, 2012

It's the Wrong Trousers

And they've gone wrong!!!

Actually, it's Oob in the extra warm, extra large fleece pants I made for Zorg's winter camp out!

In case you are wondering about the reference, it's from Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trousers. 

It's a Zoo Out There

And we had a great time!

We saw the great bears.

And we stuck some kids in a bear trap.

And Mxyl "drove" the Tundra Buggy.

I'm starting to rethink the whole "Mxyl will be learning to drive next year" thing...

It's the crazy gleam in the eye.

 And we saw the most fascinating thing at the zoo!

Everyone was riveted!

It was an African Hornbill eating a frog!

And I took a picture, just for you!!

Ummmm...  We also saw penguins!!

It's hard to believe that live penguins could be anticlimactic.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cherry Blossoms

 The good news: we hit the cherry blossoms right at their peak.

The bad news:  It was a very gray day.

But it was nothing Photoshop couldn't handle!

We parked at Hains Point and took the shuttle around to the Jefferson Memorial (which Choclo told someone today was "a thousand meters long, and a jillion meters high!" To which I thought, "Yes!!  My 6 year old is thinking in metric!  Science WIN!!!").

After our trip to the gigantic memorial, we walked around under the cherry blossoms, soaking up the beauty.  But it wasn't long before the kids found the main attraction of the trip.

You won't believe this, but there were actual..ducks!

Yes, it's true, there were two living, breathing, quacking ducks on the grass!!!

 Yes, that's an actual duck, not Photoshopped at all! (Unlike, say, the blue skies...)

The picture from the post below is actually all the kids looking at the ducks (there were two).  The ducks were the kids favorite part.

The moms favorite part was seeing the group of 5 or 6 people who set up tables with lovely tablecloths and antique china, and were having an elegant tea by the tidal basin.  We really want to do that (when our kids are old enough to want to dress up as waiters and butlers...).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Choclo Wishes

Choclo (with a deep sigh): I wish we had a large family...

Me:  Why is that?

Choclo:  I need more kids for my magic show.

Me: How many more do you need?

Choclo: Three.

Honestly, Choclo has been asking for new baby for a long time, so I don't think it's just the magic show.  He thinks we need more kids in general.  But now I know what to tell people who make snide remarks about my family size: But we wish we had a large family...

(The photo is from our recent trip to the cherry blossoms and has kids  from three families.)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

More Gospel Desserts

I've been slipping!  The Sunday before last we had the cleansing of the Temple and we had cream puffs filled with whipped cream.  Get it, "whipped" cream?

Last Sunday was the Gospel where Jesus says, "Just as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the desert, so the Son of Man will be lifted up."

That's an easy one!  We made this fine serpent out of rice crispy treats with chocolate chips melted in to give it a bronzish cast.  I don't think it looked successfully bronze, but it did taste successfully chocolate!

And this Sunday was supposed to be the "Unless a grain of wheat die.." Gospel, but they had a baptism so chose the year A reading instead: the raising of Lazarus.  That was easier, and the brownies have wheat flour, so we've got both covered.

It's Lazarus' tomb with the two brownies in front as the doors.

Actually, the brownies were eaten as part of ice cream sundaes because we made it to Confession yesterday, but didn't have time to eat dessert then.  You know you are too busy when you don't have time to eat dessert in the middle of Lent!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Magnolia Madness

 This was last week at the Arboretum - the blooms are all gone already!

We had a lovely time in and around the magnolias and the holly trees.

The whole crew...

 Blooms, glorious blooms!

 Mxyl and Zorg hanging out.

Klenda in the holly (but not the ivy).

Choclo and Oob!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Guest Blog by Leena

What do you get when you cross a glamor girl with a spiky fence?

Barbie wire!

Lent Half Time!

Lent is going pretty well, but super fast!

Our Lenten Cross is taking shape.  I am finding that I wish I had read through all the scripture the originator used, because I would make different choices.  If I can find the time, I will go through and try to edit it to make it flow more logically, and then post that to this blog.

That being said, we are all enjoying the scripture reading and drawing!

The Vine and Branches project is coming along really well.  Usually we sort of forget about it after a few weeks and the grape and leaf postings fall off.  This year we ran out of leaves and grapes at about the half way mark, and cutting more sort of restarted it in our minds. A definite win!!

A big part of Lent this year was getting ready for Klenda's Confirmation.  That went very well, and we have sort of left up her dove as a reminder.  I had planned to remove it last week, but now I'm thinking of leaving it up until Easter. Or maybe Holy Week.

Our walk with Jesus is going quickly!

We really only have one more week of Lent, and then it's Holy Week!

I haven't yet gotten our alms jar up and running, but it may not matter.  The kids have decided to contribute to Heifer again, and have mostly decided how much to give.

We recently moved from a cash based allowance system to a paper based one, and it makes putting money in jars harder.

Evidently, it doesn't make giving any harder: one Zoomlian decided to give about half his accumulated loot: $50.  Not bad, when you consider that they're getting a base allowance of $4 a week and they've already tithed on the savings!

The sacrifice beans are mounting up.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My time in Joisey

 I had a fabulous visit to my family!

My sister (the sister) lives in Colorado, and I don't usually get as much time with her as I would like on her home visits.

This time we got closer to enough!  We went on a very slow, but scenic walk.  We watched Sabrina.  We said the Office and went to Mass together.  We remembered all the things we did to each other together growing up...

She's home right now because she nearly died of propane poisoning - not the exact circumstances I would have wished!!!  Her lungs were damaged and it was though best for her to recover at home where we have a sea level atmosphere (her home is two miles above sea level).

I had a great time with her, despite the fact that she consistently cleaned my clock at Mah-jong, and my Mom cleaned both our clocks at Pinochle (or Pigs' Knuckles, as we play it).

An excellent exercise in Lenten humility!

Speaking of clocks, it was during a game when I realized that my Mom, sister, and I all have the exact same watch!

I'm not sure what that says about us!

Looking at the picture again, I also realize that my Mom and I also have the same tablecloth.

There are a lot worse things than being just like my Mom!!!

I also had a great time talking with my Dad about World War II and the state of the military bases where I grew up playing in ways children are no longer allowed to play..

Interestingly, the Zoomlians and I discovered Terry Jones: Ancient Inventions on Netflix Instant and were watching it today (We'll only be doing the first two episodes!!!).  The first episode has Terry Jones (from Monty Python fame) riding around commanding a tank.  I said, "When I was a kid, my Dad got me a Russian tank commanders helmet."  And later, "When I was a kid, I got to play around in all kinds of tanks.""

Oob (the 4 year old) came back with complete self assurance, "When I was little, I got to make the tank cannon, CANNON!!!"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What You Need to Know to Understand Things You Probably Don't Want to Know

 I went to NJ by myself to visit my parents and sister this weekend (a definite first!).  I had a wonderful time and I hope to blog about it soon.

The Emperor and the kids missed me enough to write a song for me.  To understand the song you need to know a few things:

This is Space Ghost.  he had a cartoon in the 60s.

These are his sidekicks: Jan, Jayce, and Blip.  Jan has the pony tail, Jayce is her brother and Blip is the monkey.

In each episode they get captured by whichever bad guy is around.  Space Ghost saves them.

 This is Moltar, the bad guy from the lava planet.

This is Zorak, a large, mantis-like bad guy.

He's my favorite bad guy.

 and this is the song:
[sing to Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)]

Spaaaace Ghost!  Me say Spaaaace Ghost!
Zorak come, Moltar drop a big bomb.
Spaaaace Ghost!  Me say Spaaaace Ghost!
Zorak come, Moltar drop a big bomb.

Come Jan and Jayce and Blip,
Get captured by a bad guy!
Zorak come, Moltar drop a big bomb.
 Come Jan and Jayce and Blip,
Get captured by a bad guy!
Zorak come, Moltar drop a big bomb.

Spaaaace Ghost!  Me say Spaaaace Ghost!
Zorak come, Moltar drop a big bomb.
Spaaaace Ghost!  Me say Spaaaace Ghost!
Zorak come, Moltar drop a big bomb.

Say six hand, seven hand,  eight hand, PUNCH!
Zorak come, Moltar drop a big bomb.
Say six hand, seven hand,  eight hand, PUNCH!
Zorak come, Moltar drop a big bomb.

Spaaaace Ghost!  Me say Spaaaace Ghost!
Zorak come, Moltar drop a big bomb.
Spaaaace Ghost!  Me say Spaaaace Ghost!
Zorak come, Moltar drop a big bomb.

On his wrists are bands of power!
 Zorak come, Moltar drop a big bomb.
Jan and Jayce, they both say, "WOWer!"
Zorak come, Moltar drop a big bomb.

Spaaaace Ghost!  Me say Spaaaace Ghost!
Zorak come, Moltar drop a big bomb.
Spaaaace Ghost!  Me say Spaaaace Ghost!
Zorak come, Moltar drop a big BOMMMMB!
(explosion sound)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy Feast of St. Joseph!

 Happy Feast Day!  We loove St. Joseph!

We'll be celebrating with cream puffs, a tradition I did not make up (but I would have if I'd thought of it!).

This is not to suggest that St. Joseph was a cream puff!!  It's not for nothing that he's called "Protector of the Church" and "Terror of Demons!" 

He was the real deal, providing for and protecting Our Lord and Our Lady under the hardest circumstances. 

St. Joseph fun here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Easter Grass

 Here's an idea that is all about timing.  If you haul out your Easter baskets now...

And cover the bottoms with plastic wrap...

And put in a few scoops of potting soil...

And some grass seed...

Covered with a little more potting soil and watered...

And set someplace sunny and out of the way...

On Easter, you'll have a basket full of real Easter grass to fill with candy!

If you are very clever, you can even put on a layer of burlap to be absolutely sure you get no dirt on the candy.  I wasn't that clever, so I just sowed the grass seed very thickly!

If you are even cleverer, you could draw all sorts of Lenten reflections and science lessons from the growing plants.  I've locked mine in a sunny room and have no intention of letting Choclo or Oob know about it until Easter.

So don't tell them anything, OK?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi Day!

It's 3/14. At 1:59 pm, it will be 3.14159. Time to eat pi!

It was a lovely warm day here, and the inside temperature was nearing 80, so I couldn't face the idea of baking something.

I just ground up some spare cookies and pressed them into a pie plate for the crust, and then made a double batch of pistachio pudding for the filling.

Yes, I used the box mix on the pudding.  I wouldn't do that  for chocolate or vanilla pudding, but I have no idea how to make real pistachio pudding from scratch!  It was my favorite childhood dessert, and something of a guilty pleasure.

Plus it's green, in honor of St. Patrick, one of my favorite saints!

I didn't manage any math related activities - which is crazy considering that Zorg learned how to calculate the volume of a cylinder, and Mxyl, the volume of a sphere yesterday!

Blue Streak was in the shop an extra day and I had to cancel all of today's planned activities.  While I was mulling over what to do, I realized that the sensible thing was to let everyone sleep in and have a relaxed day to recover from last week's business, and the time change.

That's what we did!  We had a relaxed day.  We did a few housekeeping things (sheet changes, clothing changes), a little home school (packets) and a long lazy walk to the lake with a picnic lunch.  Grammy came over for tea, then took me to pick up the van.

And we made and ate pi!

We're all feeling muuuch better, now!

Then Some

Choclo and Oob returned from a playground jaunt at the end of the Biology class (they had taken a favorite adult with them) and saw the iodine/food experiment.

They must try it!!!

One thing led to another, and soon we were doing random science experiments.

Inevitably, we end up with baking soda and vinegar volcanoes!

I sometimes wonder how many diapers I've changed, but I more often wonder how many baking soda and vinegar experiments I've presided over...

Two pieces of advice: 1. add soap and food coloring to the vinegar, and 2. make the playdoh for the volcano from flour, salt, and coffee grounds with just enough water to hold it together.

Why do I still do it?  Because they still  LOVE it!!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Biology and Then Some

We have rolled into our third Biology unit (body systems).  Last week we started with nutrition (I know, technically not a body system) and yesterday we did the digestive system.

This was great!  Knowing the hows and whys of your digestive system is always news you can use!

We actually got sidetracked at first by daylight savings time and circadian rhythms (did you know the human clock is 25 hours long?  This helps us continually adjust to changes in day length, and it makes adding an hour really easy, but it also makes subtracting an hour really painful!).

We talked about the changes in circadian rhythm that happen in the teenage years (there's a reason it's hard to fall asleep, and it's hard to get up!) and why that was an advantage when humans needed round the clock guarding from predators.

Oh yeah, then we talked about the digestive system!

We talked about physical digestion: breaking food into smaller pieces.  We ground up some bath salt crystals in a mortar and pestle, and tried dissolving equal amounts of large crystals and ground up small crystals.  We talked about the importance of maximizing surface area  for chemical reactions.

We talked about chemical digestion: breaking food down into absorbable nutrients.

We did a couple of experiments here.  One was to try iodine on a wide variety of foods.  Based on their observations, I asked them to come up with which nutrient the iodine reacted with.  They correctly said, "Complex carbohydrates!"  I love these kids!!

We also did an emulsification experiment.  Each kid  had a jar of 1/4 cup of oil and 1/4 cup of water, and we tried 5 different possible emulsifiers: whole egg, egg yolk, egg white, mustard, and liquid soap.  Emulsification is pretty critical.  If oils and fats aren't broken down into smaller particles, they tend to coat the food and disallow digestion and absorption.

And, of course we talked about all the parts and pieces of the system as shown here:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Zombie Day!

As I'm sure you've noticed, the Monday after the time change that robs helpfully removes an hour of sleep is Zombie Day!

And how are we feeling this morning?

The usual celebration of Zombie Day involves walking around in a cranky stupor. Fortunately, there are three additional ways to enjoy this day, which comes but once a year!

First, watch this:

Second, watch this:

Or play it here.

Lastly, remember to cut your fellow zombies some slack.  If you should happen to meet anyone shambling around in a cranky stupor, resist the urge to eat their brains bite their head off. Get to bed early tonight, and tomorrow won't be quite as bad... Hopefully!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Guest blog by Mxyl: Happy Confirmation, Klenda!

 The day before yesterday, Klenda just underwent an extraordinarily successful confirmation!  We are currently preparing for a confirmation party with family and friends!

 I often tend to think of confirmation as the beginning of your adulthood in the church, so congratulations Klenda!  You are now a full Catholic and are able to experience God's love much more completely!

 I thank the readers of this blog very much for their prayers!  Did you notice that every one of these sentences ends with an exclamation point?!

Honorable mentions include Fr. George, Klenda's sponsor; Bishop Gonzales, who confirmed her; and the Prime Minister, who was the sponsor of one of Klenda's friends.

The following picture is of Klenda next to Bishop Gonzales, who is next to Fr. George, and I have no idea whatsoever who the other guy is.

As a footnote, I would find it completely illogical to write a matter of this level of importance subjecting around another person without him/her having a saying within it; therefore it would highly please me if the primary subject of the post would speak in her own words (and yes, I really do talk like this some of the time):

Klenda: (if this is the beginning of my talk, why is it below the foot note?  Anyway...)

 I can only think of one thing to describe Confirmation: indescribably AWESOME!!!  I mean, having a relationship at all with Jesus is one thing; but being Confirmed and welcomed as a full adult member of the Catholic Church is totally different! (Okay, not totally different, but you get the idea.) Thanks so much for your prayers!