Friday, August 31, 2012

Oob Wants You to Know

I have a walking stick, and I have a cape, and I have a hat, and a beard, too!

And I have a sword!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kazoo Madness

Klenda and Zorg each have a kazoo.  They each play their kazoo very, very well.  They have figured out how to play all the music from Super Mario Brothers as well as Mozart's variations on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  They play in tune, they even play in harmony.

They only problem is...they still sound like kazoos.

They are driving me nuts.

This may all count as unattended consequences since I have been busy painting the kitchen, a Sisyphean, Herculean, really big job that involves taking apart everything in the most used room in the house, detailed cleaning and organizing, and piecing back bits of it around meal times so we can, you know, eat. The Sisyphean part is the continual accumulation of dishes as I paint.

I can see why I haven't done it for nine years.

The Zoomlians have been helping quite a bit, but the rest of the time they are off working on their own projects.  Unfortunately, one of the projects is becoming professional kazoo players.

Zorg (as I enter the room after hearing them play an assortment of Star Wars music): Hey, Mom, what's your favorite song?

Fortunately, my mind went completely blank at the prospect of my favorite song being rendered by dueling kazoos.  Seriously, I could not think of a single song.  At all.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tie Dye

This year, I really want to do more art projects, and how better to start than an easy end of summer tie dye?

The kids all did shirts, and my apron got splashed in the process, so I thought, "Why not?"

Leena's shirt was in the wash, so she graciously did camera duty.  Thanks, Leena!

Mxyl did free hand drawing on his: a cross, a light saber (embellished after the fact with markers), the Blender symbol, and a ring.

Oob (who decided he did not want his picture taken), has a green and blue splashed shirt with red letters.  The letter dye bled enough that the casual observer can't tell what they say, but he knows: PVZ.

Speaking of which, did you hear the big news?  PVZ2, coming next Spring! 

Not that I'm excited or anything.  I just hope it comes out in time for Zombie Day.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Seven Quick Takes Friday

1. What do you call it when you ignore your 5 year old and he breaks Styrofoam into a million teeny tiny pieces, each statically charged to cling to everything else in the house?

Unattended consequences.

2. Did you know that 3 out of three repairmen who visit your house will find having a life sized giant squid battling a shark on the ceiling to be... odd?

But none of them will mention it.

I find that odd.

3. We have completed The Great Migration!  The redoubtable Bill spent quite a bit of the week changing over all of our computers (three for three).  I was waiting for David Attenborough to show up and start narrating: "This CPU looks harmless enough, to be sure, but lurking unseen within the case, we have another matter..."

4. Actually, I feel as though a lot of my life would benefit from David Attenborough narration.  This is also the fault of the indefatigable  Bill, who has recorded several hundred David Attenborough documentaries for me.  We are HUGE fans!  In case you've missed him, this is why:

5. We had our First Day of No School!

This is an annual event in which we celebrate that the summer crowds are gone at all the parks and museums.  Or maybe we are celebrating that we aren't tied to the school schedule.  Or, maybe, I'm just celebrating that I get to be with my kids.

At any rate, we went off with another family of homeschoolers to Watkin's Park.  Our kids call the place, "the big enormous playground with the little tiny zoo."  The zoo (nature center) is made up of injured raptors, and a wide assortment of exotic pets that outgrew their owners.  So fun!

Here Choclo and Oob watch the turtles.

6. Mxyl started his 3D modelling class!  His first assignment was to take a dozen, randomly sized and placed eggs, get them all the same size, and put them in a basket. The eggs and basket were made by the teacher and started out in black and white.

Homeschoolers, what can you do?!

7. Happiness is... Reading with Dad!

More with Jen at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Found Science

We walked to Mass the other day.  While our usual parish, St Jerome's, is at least 5 miles away, there is also a much closer parish where we like to go for daily Mass.

It's a one mile walk each way - a nice distance for exercise, conversation, and finding things.

That day we found a dead cicada, an unidentified strange bug, an hibiscus flower (in our yard), and a butterfly wing.

Except, when we looked at it under the microscope, we discovered it was not from a butterfly!

I knew that butterflies had smooth bodies and moths had hairy ones, but I did not realize that moths have microscopic hairs on their wings!  In fact, each of the tiny scales which give the wing it's colors, ended in three hairs!!

This particular wing was pretty beaten up.  It had a section in which many of the scales had come off.  What were the tiny bubbles? Zorg wanted to know.  It turned out that the wing itself is perfectly clear except for many carefully arranged holes where the scales once fit. Amazing!

We also looked at the other insect wings with the scope,and the bodies and flower with magnifying glasses.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sea Week: Bubbly

 It's been a rough few weeks and months.  Lots of people in the hospital (my father in law's dad is in now), a few deaths (three in the past week), the strokes, and various sickness.

And the loss of our own little one.

One reason I did Sea Week last week (and into this week) was to give the kids something to focus on beyond all the heavy stuff.

Here are Klenda and Zorg making the shark.

Here is Mxyl putting up the squid's mantle.

It's amazing having kids big enough to reach the ceiling!

 Remember the bubble painting?

I finally got around to using those in a collage!

We cut out bean shapes, with a large hole on one end (Mary's face) and a smaller hole lower down (Baby Jesus' face).

The kids glued the bean shape to other paper, then drew the faces.

This was a simple, sweet craft that worked well for a wide spread of ages.  Mxyl (top) did a detailed face using proportions he learned in a portraiture video, Choclo did a smiley face (and made Baby Jess say, "Goo!").

We did it on the Feast of the Assumption.

I had providentially stumbled across these foam sea life stickers while excavating perusing the home school room.  We used the extra bubble paintings as a back ground for under sea scenes.

Klenda's was the most elaborate.  She cut orange bubbles for sand, blue for water, and an edge piece for the dolphins jumping out of the water!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sea Week: The Return of the Squid

 It's been a long time since we've had a squid in the house!

This time, for sea week, we had two teams: Squid Team and Shark Team.

Yes, I did have an illegal amount of fun calling out, "Squid Team!"

Squid Team built this life sized model of a giant squid!

Squid Team roll call: Mxyl, Leena, and Oob.

It's really hard to take a picture of anything 50 some feet long indoors.

The mantle alone is ten feet, it's arms are 20 feet long (orange), it's tentacles are 40 feet (red), and it's eyes are the size of dinner plates - no, wait, they are dinner plates!

Shark Team built this life sized model of a young Great White shark!

Shark Team roll call: Klenda, Zorg, and Choclo.

Our shark was only 10 feet long and about 5 feet wide at it's widest point (counting fins)

I found it astonishing that they were able to sketch out the shark with no input from me besides finding a book with a shark picture!

Naturally, the shark and squid had to be locked in mortal combat, because, you know, they were right there!

Since we were sticking sea life to the ceiling, we made an assortment of fanciful balloon fish to feed them keep them company.

Sad News

Patrick has died.  Thank you so much for your prayers!  He was able to hang on for his whole family to come be with him (half his family is from Ireland).  Please continue to pray for his family.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Patrick Update

Unfortunately, I have bad news.

Patrick has had a lot of internal bleeding and his brain is swelling.  They did a brain death test today, and it showed no brain activity, even in his brain stem (which controls basic bodily functions and is the last to shut down).

They will do another test after 24 hours just to be absolutely sure, but, I think it would be a major miracle if he survives.

Please continue to pray for this little boy and his family.  They still don't know what happened to cause all this, or why he went in the car to begin with. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Six Flags

Taking 8 people anywhere is expensive.  This means we tend to plan our big money outings on a rotating basis: one year we do the circus, the next it's the fair, and this year it was the amusement park!

Our local park is called Six Flags.  When the kids wanted to know why, I told them there was one flag for each of them!
 This year, in keeping with our trajectory plans, the Emperor took all six kids by himself! 

This meant that he took the youngest three to the "younger" rides, and the oldest three went off on their own... for the day.
 It worked! 

Everyone had a great time.  No one got lost.

We provided a little structure for the older kids: what to do if they lost some one, what to do if different kids wanted to do different rides, when to be back, where to meet, how to get food, and so forth, and they were totally fine!
The one thing everyone could do together was the bumper cars.

Sorry for the blur, all the pictures are from phones.

What a fun day! 

And the confidence on the older kids' faces was the best souvenir!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Urgent Prayer Request

I'd like to really beg for prayers for this little 5 year old boy, the son of a friend of mine

Yesterday, Patrick  wandered into the family van alone unbeknownst to anyone at some point in the afternoon. They don't know how long he was in the hot van, but when his Mom found him, he was breathing but nonresponsive. They immediately called an ambulance and they took him to the ICU of Children's Hospital.

Since then, he has been in a coma and, in fact, has taken a turn for the worse.  The nurses and doctors are working with him constantly. He is losing blood and they are doing transfusions. They think it is something worse than heat exhaustion. He might have ingested something poisonous. His heart rate is high. He is is on medications that are keeping his blood pressure down.

His Mom is telling us that things are not looking good.  She asks for prayers to St. Jude.

Thank you for your prayers!


PS: Veronica (the little 5 year old girl who had a stroke and was in a coma) is coming back to her house this weekend!   She is doing miraculously well.  She is using a walker, but it looks like she will eventually make a full recovery.  Thank you so much for your prayers for her!

Beach Trip Round 4: The Rest

 We made our annual visit to a candy store!

We visited the Wallop's Island Flight Center!

 We ate crabs!  My kids have lived their whole lives in Maryland, and this was their first crab feast!

They drew pictures on the table while we waited for the crabs:

 This is a sleestak from the Land of the Lost.  Who let him in?!

We played mini-golf!

We visited strange little museums.

This was the oldest house on Chincoteague, built in the 1800s. 

One of the guides, a lovely little old lady, told us that her mother had been born in the upstairs room: one of eleven children in the two room house!

We hung out and relaxed!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Beach Trip Round 3: The Beach!

Beach Trip Round 2: Microscope Madness

We had a wonderful time with the microscope, at any rate! 

We saw zooplankton and phytoplankton, to be sure, but the high water mark was when the kids caught a repulsively  surprisingly large jellyfish. 

I had brought gloves, in the hopes of finding one! 

Let me preface this with two statements: 1. Jellyfish are a harmful and invasive species. 2. Jellyfish have no nerves or pain centers. 

The kids had fished the jelly out with a net.  As it was revoltingly excessively large, it began to lose structural integrity almost immediately.

I tried to take a sample of the dome and a separate sample of the tentacles (with a spoon and bowl, if that doesn't gross you out too much).  I ended up getting all tentacle all the time, but that was the more interesting find anyway.

Unfortunately, my microscope does not have camera, and what we saw was a bit nicer than this. 

We saw chrysanthemum shaped clusters of stinging cells. Larger empty cells fringed the outside, tiny new cells clustered at the center, and in between were cells with what looked like large convoluted nuclei.

Those convolutions were actually the coiled up "harpoons" of the stinging cells!!  How cool is that?  Even as someone who despises is not fond of jellyfish, I found the cell clusters weirdly beautiful.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Beach Trip Round 1: Down by the Bay

 Despite the regular posting, we were gone all last week to Chincoteague Island!

We had a house with Grammy on the west coast of the island, and so were treated to a variety of beautiful sunsets over Chincoteague Bay.

On the other side, you could drive a short distance to Assateague and see the sun rise over the Atlantic!

This was an amazing set up in several ways: we were in the middle of a salt marsh, an ecosystem which we'd never experienced, the private board walk ran through the marsh to a dock in the Bay, complete with a crab catching cage, and we were surrounded by wildlife, including more snowy egrets that you could shake a stork at!

Fortunately, I had thought ahead and brought my microscope, complete with well slides for looking at microscopic water creatures!

Yeah, I do know most people would have brought binoculars for looking at the birds... I kind of wonder what my kids will think when they grow up and find that not everyone takes a microscope on summer vacation.  Don't spill the beans, OK?

Tomorrow: What we saw with the microscope!

Friday, August 10, 2012


A conversation with my friend, Becky, has gotten me thinking a lot about trajectory in parenting.

To me this means having a clear idea of where you want your child to be on his or her 18th birthday.  Not a physical location, or even a "they should be in college" type thing.  I mean thinking about what it means to be a fully functional adult, and how to get there from "It's a boy!" in 18 years.

I want my kids to be deeply connected to God, to draw life and guidance from their relationship with Him.  I want that life to spill out into the lives of others.

I want them to be able to confidently navigate daily life (feed, clean and care for themselves).

I want them to able to handle their own finances.

I want them to know how to find out what they want to know, and to want to know lots of things.

I want them to be able to sort out truth from error.

I want them to have a knowledge base that allows them to do whatever God calls them to do.

I want them to able to drive and be able to literally navigate their way through life!

I want them to be comfortable in their own skin, to know who God created them to be and to be excited about being that person.

I want them to be able to think of others and  to look at a situation and think about how to make it better.

Where do you want your kids to be?  Do you have an intentional trajectory?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Big Plans

Me (to Leena): We'll also be doing a younger kids  chemistry class, and you'll be in that.  Just think, all chemistry experiments, all the time!

Leena: You mean like blowing up a donkey?!

Zorg: No, that's Art class.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Guest Blog by Mxyl: Goshen, Round III

Around half-way into camp, The Grand Emperor came--and he brought a camera!  We finished up the badges and awards, performed an excellent flag ceremony, and then...


Our Troop, known for awkwardness and pranks, remodified our ordinary table into something out of a fancy restaurant!

I volunteered as one of the fancy waiters!

Which meant pouring fancy champagne to the staff, our fancy guests!

All and all, a fun night, need I say more?  The answer would be yes, but I've run out of pictures of significant note.

Hmm... for swimming I  blew up my pants...

Ah yes!  I forgot that we now have our own sign hung up on the hall's walls!  Nothing uncommon, though still neat for revisiting.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Guest Blog by Mxyl: Goshen, Round II

 On to our busy week!

I got badges in Environmental Science (literally fun and games), Emergency Preparation (more to the point, but still fun too), Sculpture (easy and fun), Textiles (short and fun) and Cinematography (mostly listening to music on our counselor's Mac and guessing which movie it's from=fun).

In my spare time, I learned to shoot a rifle!

Zorg, meanwhile, did the Trails Head program, and got his Totin' chip and his Fireman's chit, which means, as I aptly put it, "You are now able to carry a flamethrower as well as axes and swords."

Pocket knives and campfires are also allowed.
The biggest news from camp: Zorg and I both got our swimming badge!  I originally started Hiking (you have to do one or the other to get Eagle), but Hiking, upon closer inspection, required 70 miles of hiking, and I'd personally prefer more rifling in my spare time.