Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Girls' Week Round 1

 We had a great time last week while the boys were off at camp.  It was Girls' Week!

We made bath fizzies!  Bath fizzies are fantastic!  At last, sweet smelling science!

The principal behind bath fizzies is actually the same as a baking soda and vinegar volcano.  Seriously, they even contain baking soda!

Here's the recipe:
1/2 c. citric acid
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup corn starch
powdered food coloring
1/2 tsp almond oil

Mix it all together and then start misting with water while you stir.  When it's just damp enough to hold together when you squeeze it, pack it into molds and let it dry for an hour.  Turn them out of the molds and let dry overnight, then seal in bags or bins.

Really, that's it.  You have a dried acid (citric), a dried base (baking soda), and a binder (cornstarch).  Here's the interesting part: acid/base reactions only happen in the presence of water!  As long as the acid and base remain dry, they will not interact.  Drop it in the bath, of course, and it's a bath bomb!

In other girl news, Mumpy gave us a Top Styler!

Klenda practiced on Leena:

Leena did a great job on Klenda, too, but I didn't get a picture (bad mom!).

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Veronica is Awake!

She is out of the coma and talking!  They are saying she'll need physical therapy, but will probably make a full recovery.

Thank you so much, for your prayers!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Not the Post I Planned

Today, Mxyl, Zorg, and the Emperor returned from Scout camp, brimming with all the fun things they've done the past week. 

This morning, I planned to blog about "Girls' Week," all the fun stuff we did  while they were gone... And I will blog about all that fun stuff.

But you never know what you're going to get in your in box.

This morning it was the news that the 5 year old sister of my godson had a stroke yesterday (while having her adenoids out) and she's in a coma. Please pray for this sweet little girl!  Her name is Veronica.

This afternoon it was the news that my cousin Ed (the one who runs the rocket launches) had a stroke on the same day.  He turned 65 last Wednesday.  He's the one in the hat, fixing Klenda's rocket.

We were able to visit him a bit in the CCU.  He was awake, but couldn't move his right side.  His wife is having a hard time.  Please pray for them too.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Vi Hart

Too fun! Recreational Mathamusician indeed!  Leena has been watching this over and over.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Outer Boys' Room

This is Mxyl and Oob's room, the previous Klenda and Leena's room.

It took two coats of base layer yellow to cover the blue walls, and then two more coats of gold. Yes.  We painted it four times!

Fortunately Mxyl did most of the work.

The boys picked out purple curtains, which does remind me of the poem:  "his cohorts were gleaming with purple and gold..."

But I guess that makes it a classic combination!

 It's a much larger room than the one Mxyl had been in, and there is more space to, say, construct your own recreation of Land of the Lost in Legos, if you are inclined to do that sort of thing.  Which they are.

The boys happen to own a large statue of Jesus.  It wasn't until I put it up on a shelf that I realized the visual significance of a gold room.
 It looks like an icon. 

If you aren't familiar with icons, they are highly stylized religious representations intended to be "windows into heaven."  Which means that they are extremely symbolic to the extent that icons are not said to be "painted," but rather, "written."

In the "language" of iconography, a gold background denotes the scene is in heaven.
Scenes on earth usually, but not always, have a black or dark background.    I didn't know that until I saw an icon showing the Baptism of the Lord and asked  why Jesus was being baptized at night.

Mxyl and Oob are enjoying their heavenly room!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Inner Boys Room

 Figuring out what to call this room is a problem.  This is the room on the main floor which used to be Mxyl and Zorg's.

Now it is Zorg and Choclo's, making Zorg the only kid to not switch rooms.  His consolation was that we started painting his room first!

"Inner" does not refer to the location of the room, but to the birth order of the occupants!  They are the middle two of the four boys.

After so long of having the oldest two and youngest two share their rooms, it's hard to remember who is bunking with whom!

As you probably noticed, the room is gold.  This took one coat of a base layer yellow and two coats of gold paint, so we really painted this room three times.  Good thing it was small!

They picked out burgundy curtains.  Note the extra curtain for the closet.  Replacing all the kids closet doors with curtains has been a huge win for us, both in terms of space and repairing the doors.

And, look!  Choclo still likes penguins, so they followed him!

If you look carefully at the first picture, you can see, hanging from the ceiling, a penguin in a hammock. 

Zorg thinks penguins are fine, but prefers Super Mario Galaxy (and cats).  Fortunately, Choclo also likes both of those, so everyone is happy!

In fact, these boys also share a love of robots and all things Lego, which you can see a bit of on the shelves and bins in the first picture.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


 This is a question for all those of you with a flair for home decorating.

This is my kitchen.

I have put off repainting it for as long as possible, partly because of the work involved, but mostly because I have a vague idea that I could do something nice with it, but just don't know what.

Any ideas?

Right now, the walls are all off white.  I can't do white (I think) because the sink and oven are bisque.  But the fridge is black and the cook top and dishwasher are stainless steel (guess who shops the clearance aisle?!).

 The cabinets are cherry, the floor is "stone" in shades of tan with a little coppery tone to it.

The counters are a verdigris design (green with ripples of blue and teal).

There are beams across the ceiling that match the cabinets (by a happy coincidence!  I didn't think of the beams when I chose the cabinets).
I was kind of thinking of using two colors.  Maybe one for most of the walls and another for the bow window and the wall going up the stairs?

The silver streamers around the stairwell (ever a source of delight or amusement to visitors, depending on age) are a barrier to keep the parakeets downstairs (as opposed to a fashion statement!).

I also have some cream colored battenburg lace curtains for the window (to put behind the books), although I could return them if I came up with a different color combination.

Portfolio Review

It's coming up today, so I'm linking to these posts from the last six months.


US History


Monday, July 23, 2012


So, presuming that you have just come back from a four day, three hour jet lag, whirlwind trip of non-stop fun, and then you lose power for several days while one of your favorite house guests in the whole world is visiting, and you are about to take a week long trip out of state to visit your family, but you have only two days to prepare, what is the obvious thing to do during those two days?

Of course!  Have all the kids randomly switch their (densely packed) rooms and paint all those rooms twice!  Did I mention you have your portfolio review coming up and you need to learn Chemistry this summer? Ha!  Ha!

 Klenda and Leena, who have been in their room ever since it was built (2003) decided it was time for a change and moved into Choclo and Oob's old room.

That meant the room went from purple and penguins to...

 Yellow and blue and pink and butterflies!

And horses, of course.

They have the art desk set up near a sunny window. 

We've all been doing quite a bit of drawing and sketching with art books and videos this summer.

This room was painted twice because it took two coats (of each color) to cover the dark purple.

On the plus side, Klenda and Leena (especially Klenda) were old enough to do a lot of the taping, painting, and room shifting themselves.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Oob (quietly serious): I have shocking news to report!

Me: What?!

Oob:  I made a little spill on the table.


Oob (cheerily, while skimming along in a wheeled chair pushed by Mxyl): Look!  I'm a spoiled child!


Me: Well, Oob, how long should we work on cleaning up the home school room?

Oob (immediately): 15 hours, 10 minutes, and 20 seconds.


Oob: I wish I had some gummy bacon.... (like gummy bears, but bacon?)

Friday, July 20, 2012

New Jersey Round 3

Another great thing we did in NJ: We went back and visited the church where we were married 22 years ago!

This is the parish where we were from when I was ten to when I married at twenty (and moved away).  It is, if anything, more beautiful than I remembered, but smaller!

I didn't take pictures, but the inside is very lovely: beautiful stained glass, frescoes of the life of Christ, carved marble altar and lovely  sculpted stations of the cross.

It made me think how much poorer our churches are.  When I was growing up, when my mind wandered at Mass, there was always something beautiful and good to look at.  Our current parish has never had the money for such a lavish spread of beauty, but I have been in many well off parishes where the walls are intentionally bare and the glass clear.

We also visited the parish cemetery. I had wanted to visit the graves of two people very dear to me in my childhood, but was delighted to be able to visit many more old friends and neighbors.  Probably "delighted" sounds strange in this context!  But it really was a delight.  We're all traveling in the same direction, and it was so nice to see an elderly couple that I had loved for their devotion and care for each other had passed on within a month of each other.

I prayed at the graves of Fr. Mike, a merry Irish priest who always had time to joke with a kid, and Fr. John, whose voice I still hear singing.  And Mrs. Gardinier, whose elegant chignon I copied, and whose kindness and loving refinement are still with me.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Jersey Round 2

 One of the fun things we did was to visit the Sterling Hill Mine.  I hadn't been there in 15 years, and they've really added a great deal!

They have an amazing museum of minerals and mining equipment (and I say this as someone who visits the Smithsonian's mineral exhibits!)

I'd highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.

Oob was very enthusiastic, but then, he's a minor.
Klenda found the gold on the "treasure hunt."

And then they had a fantastic periodic table!!

I want one!!!

The mine itself didn't photograph well, it being dark and all.
 Coming back into the sun was rather dazzling.

Our guide was an actual miner who had blasted some of the tunnels - very cool!

I should mention that this area has the most fluorescent minerals (in quality, variety, and quantity) in the world.

And we got samples!
 They've added a ton of hands on science exhibits and educational stuff, all of which we loved.

At least until they discovered the fossil the kids are touching is a coprolite (dino poop).

We also had a great time at the gift shop.  We found some fantastic new minerals and fossils for our museum, and this poster for Pa (who also goes by the name Grumpy).  Too funny!

The beginning of this video shows the mine:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

New Jersey: Round 1

 We had a wonderful time in NJ with Mumpy and Pa! 

Do we have pictures to prove it?  Kinda.

I was a bajillion pictures in before I realized that Zorg was giving Klenda rabbit ears in every picture.

I got him to knock it off and took one last perfect picture.

It wasn't until I uploaded it to the blog that I realized the problem.

Thanks, Choclo.

Then again, they are very realistic pictures...

We did have a great time.

There's something special about going back to the house you grew up in with your Mom and Dad still there. 

We talked a lot and looked at pictures.   I am now the age my Dad was when we moved there when I was ten.  I could see the pictures both from the perspective of the child I was, and as an adult seeing my parents at my age.

It seems like the older I get, the more I appreciate my parents. 

When you're a kid, things are as they are, as an adult, I can see they were amazing!  As a kid, I wasn't allowed to tell anyone what my Dad did.  This was agonizing because my Dad had the coolest job ever: traveling the world taking apart bombs.  It was the Cold War and my Dad was keeping a low profile.  Aldrich Ames blew that, but I didn't, and I was quite convinced I'd stand up under torture!

Now he's getting all kinds of public awards and recognition.  They're even naming a museum after him!

It's funny.  As a kid I really didn't like it that my Dad had to leave so much.  As an adult what remains is awe at how many other kids' dads came home because my Dad went out.

That's just the flashy stuff, so to speak.  Back home, my parents took into their home an endless stream of broken and hurting people.  They healed them with faith and love, got them on their feet and sent them on their way, often with a car and a college education.  It's just what they did. They still live happily, but very simply, because they keep meeting people who need help.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mxyl!

 Mxyl wanted a Lord of the Rings themed party for his Golden Birthday, specifically, a hobbit theme!

The cake represents Bag End, Frodo and Bilbo's house.

Chocolate fudge cake with chocolate icing.

He then surprised his brothers and sisters by having a real hobbit birthday, i.e. he gave them presents!

They loved it and he loved it!

Note the painstakingly accurate window painting of Minas Titrith in the background, courtesy of the Emperor...

Happy birthday, my great hearted Mxyl, I'm so proud to be your Mom!

Which leads me to: 15 Things About Mxyl

1. He's a star scout.
2. He can arch his eyebrows.
3. He likes Adoration.
4. He's cool under pressure, what would Spock do?
5. He stands up for those that can't stand up for themselves.
6. He's a techno whiz kid: Blender, Sculptris, whatever, he can do it.
7. He's quick with a sword.
8. He's a reverent altar server.
9. He's the hero to lots of little kids.
10. He has an inimitable fashion sense.
11. He painted his room gold.
12. His humor is subtle but deadly.
13. He does an excellent Link and a hilarious British accent at odd times
14. .He is taller than I am!  My giant little boy!
15. He knows where they are taking the hobbits.

Monday, July 16, 2012

We're Back!

 And we have a backlog of posts!

We've actually just returned from a week in NJ, but I'm still catching up with this last post about our WA trip.

This is the Lava Canyon which we hiked on Mt. St. Helens.  This beautiful glacial stream was completely obscured by trees before the pyroclastic flow form the 1980 eruption, shall we say, uncovered it.

 In actual fact it scoured out the trees and rocks in the valley, and reshaped the canyon.  It was a little creepy (as a person who remembered the eruption) to see the line of mature trees which mark the height of the flow.

We went up a little higher on the mountain and found more snow, with the obvious results...


And we visited a beautiful glacial lake.

No, we do not actually have our feet in the water.  At the end of June it was quite shockingly icy!

Speaking of shockingly icy, on the Mt. Ranier climb, Klenda didn't realize that her boots would collect snow if not laced to the tippy tops.

By the end of the climb down, her toes were quite shockingly icy and here she is warming them on the black top at 5000 feet!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Social Climbing

 At the end of June, there is still some snow at 5500 feet on Mt. Ranier.

Here we are in front of the snow near the parking lot.  As we climbed, it was much deeper (20-40 ft), but it's like swimming in the ocean, as long as you're on top, the depth doesn't matter so much.

Although, it was interesting to see normal sized trees and then realize you are actually looking at the tops of giant sized trees...

Here is Klenda in a hole near a tree trunk.

I also did not expect the foothills to be snow capped!  The view was really incredible!

 Klenda, feeling snow deprived after our warm winter, made a snow angel.

Incidentally, for a lot of the climb, we had to take off our jackets because we were so hot.  My brother had told me this, but I had found it hard to believe!
We made it!!!

We ate lunch, kicked back and relaxed (and, in my case, got sunburned).

The climb up had been steep enough that we were able to slide back down (glissade, my brother told me, a very nice word for sliding down a mountain on your rump, though I suppose more talented sliders may do it differently).