Wednesday, October 31, 2012


 We are climbing our way out of the stomach bug hole - enough to get the pumpkins and costumes done today!

Here are Choclo and Leena's pumpkins.

And Zorg and Oob's.

Oob was in bad shape this morning, but recovered enough to actually go trick-or-treating tonight!  Go, Oob! (but not too far, and you are eating only three pieces of candy tonight...)

 Klenda went with a very nice bat carving, totally free hand!

And Mxyl did an etching of the Tardis in the time vortex. 

Very cool pumpkins this year!

 Here they are lit up.

What seemed unbelievable yesterday: all the Zoomlians are upright and able to trick-or-treat (or dress up and give out candy) this year!  

Costume pics tomorrow...

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Well, the hurricane wasn't too bad for us: we didn't lose power, thanks be to God!

The stomach bug, however, has been a lot tougher!

So far we have: Leena fully recovered, Mxyl and I weak and shaky, Zorg, Oob, and the Emperor actively miserable, Choclo may be coming down with it, and Klenda, untouched and obsessively using hand sanitizer.

Last night we hit the dreaded Parental Illness Overlap.  There ought to be a law against having both parents down at the same time, doubly so if there are sick kids in the house.

Prayers greatly appreciated.  At least it's going through quickly!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Are we ready for Frankenstorm?  Yep.

We have:

Canned food,
Camp stove,
Extra blankets,
Kid throwing up.

Yes!  We have it all!

Because, what's more fun than a natural disaster?

A natural disaster with a stomach bug!

If we don't post for a while, you'll know why.

Friday, October 26, 2012


  We've enjoyed a run of glorious weather here for the past week: highs in the upper 70s, blue skies and changing leaves - beautiful!

We've been spending a lot of time outside, going on hikes and leaf walks.

We like to collect leaves for our leaf tree, and make rubbings.

It's a good way to learn to identify trees, and it's a good way to bring some of that Fall beauty inside.

And it's a great way to spend these nice days outside!

They won't last forever!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gas Laws

We're going to go into all these laws with their formulas in class, but I wanted you to see these first to get the general idea:

Boyle's Law: The more pressure you have on the gas, the less (smaller) volume you have, and the less pressure you have, the more (larger) volume.  So, less is more!

Charles' Law:  As temperature increases, volume increases (and as temperature decreases, volume decreases)

Guy-Lassac's Law: The higher the temperature, the higher the pressure, the lower the temperature, the lower the pressure

If you have extra time, here are all three laws explained by the heartless marshmallow guy:

And, if you made it this far, here are the princess hairstyles!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Happy Mole Day!

To celebrate, how about TWO cheesy videos?!

Why? Because we don't have time for 6.04 X 10 to the 23rd videos.

But what about... tor...ture?!!

How about a more educational one with music I actually like?

Monday, October 22, 2012

C & O Canal: Great Falls

 We went off the visit Great Falls to enjoy the turning of the leaves, and this time we tried the Maryland side. 

I had heard that the view was better from Virginia. 

Not true!  This is the area just above the falls.

For one thing, the Maryland side has the C & O Canal.  This canal, the brainchild of George Washington, was intended as a boat route from the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio river (which flows into the Mississippi and down to New Orleans). 

Now, the Great Falls part is staffed by historical reenactors! 

They let you pet their mules.

And look around on their boats.

Plus they show you how they work the locks!

We would have gotten a ride on the boat through the locks, but the water level of the river (and therefore the canal) was too low.

You also can hike (or bike) the tow path where the mules who pulled the barges walked.

Things we were learned: The canal, 184 miles long, 60 feet wide and 6 feet deep, was entirely dug by hand!! It took 22 years.

Kids and families lived and worked on the boats because each trip took 7 days each way.  They took off when the canal was frozen (3 months) and went to school.

A short walk down the towpath leads to a bridge to an Olmstead Island, a rocky patch in the middle of the river, overlooking the falls.

Actually, it's sort of in the middle of the falls.

 And the island itself is riven with fantastic rocky gorges which must be waterfalls when the water level is higher.

Through a geologic anomaly, the Great Falls part of the river has a water level that fluctuates by 100 feet or more.

The island is covered by a rocky forest, carefully protected by a fenced path.  Many signs warned us that it was a fragile and rare ecosystem and that we must  stay on the path.

Well, I didn't want to be the one to step on the butterfly, so we stayed on the path!

The view of Great Falls is fantastic!

And the viewing platform has a giant boulder coming up through the middle, perfect for climbing.

Interestingly, the boulder has many circular hollows, obviously carved by water - interesting because we are some 70 feet above the current water level!

Some of the hollows were large enough to fit a couple of kids, making it ideal for hide and seek.

It was a great outing, and we'll try again when the water levels are higher.  I really want to try the boat ride!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Learning Curve

I was so pleased I had figured out how to create documents to post to the blog, I didn't realize that I needed to change the privacy setting so you could download them.  Oops!

I fixed it, and you can get the Creed Templates now! PDF Word

Speaking of which, so far, so good!

The different kids "get" the Creed at different levels, and, of course, they have different skill levels to express what they are seeing in their phrase.

But one of the beautiful things about this ancient prayer is that all ages can understand it on some level!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Almost Fall at the Arboretum

 We took a trip to the Arboetum with friends last week.

I had been hoping to catch some turning leaves, but the leaves are only just starting to color up.

We did see a few of Gray's Treefrogs.

These top two photos were from Leena!

And we saw this wonderfully large praying mantis. Can you spot him?

Really, the Arboretum is beautiful any time of year!

We were pretty inspired, so we went out and got some bulbs and mums.

These are Choclo and Oob's gardens, but all the Zoomlians picked out plants.  I planted the mums, but I think they are probably too late to establish roots before winter.

 When we got home, I found that my "Fall blooming" camellia had started to bloom, so I guess the leaf change isn't too far off!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Seven Quick Takes: Loving October!

1. Big cream cheese sugar cookies with pumpkin flavor added, rolled and cut out into pumpkin shapes, frosted with orange pumpkin flavored icing, and given faces.

What's not to like?

2. The Year of Faith!  I am really excited about this Holy Year, and I am hoping it will be a year of real spiritual growth for the whole family.  We are working on an illustrated Creed project, and I've made our templates available as PDF and Word Documents.   More info in my Creed post.

3. 7:08:09 10/11/12  Did you notice it?

4. Walks in the woods with the leaves all turning, finding box turtles!

Yes, the poor thing is upside down, and completely clammed up.  Choclo and Oob were very interested to see that he could withdraw so completely into his shell and guessed that it was so that other animals couldn't eat him.

No turtles were harmed in the making of this blog post!

5. Speaking of walks, on a recent foray, we inspected the building of a new path through our woods.  To our delight, they left an excavator lying about.

From the outside, it looked like this. (can you see the little feet?)

From the inside, it looked like this!

We were very careful not to disturb anything.

Interestingly, when we got home, they couldn't wait to tell Daddy...they'd seen mushrooms!

6.Starting new knitting projects with half an eye on Christmas.  Nothing like sitting by a fire on a cold rainy October night, knitting a scarf. 

I love ruffly scarves, so I was quite taken with this yarn.

It definitely looks like I've done something clever, but the actual "yarn" is a crocheted (or tatted) strip about three inches wide.  You just knit the outer edge and it automatically creates billowy, lacy ruffles!

Long time blog followers know I am not an expert knitter (although I am very good at knitting beards) and, while I had to go through the directions several times (never having actually followed knitting directions before), it's pretty easy and will make a nice gift (for someone who doesn't read my blog, so Bill, don't tell her!).

 7.  The beginning of the school year craziness starts to ebb, and we find things like forgotten pictures from our summer vacation (on Mxyl's iPod, thanks, Mxyl!).

This is the Assateague lighthouse (which we climbed).

And this is Misty of Chincoteague's stuffed body (which we did not climb because they have rules about that sort of thing).

More Quick Takes with Jen!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Year of Faith

I've been thinking about what I would like to do with my kids for the Year of Faith, and I've decided I'd like to start with an intense focus on the Creed.

I had done a project like this about ten years ago, but this time I made a template which you can find here as the Creed PDF (which has fancy lettering), or here as the Creed Word document (with plain lettering).

The basic idea is that the Nicene Creed is broken down into phrases, and each phrase is printed on a blank sheet of paper.  My templates each have 16 pages, but you could do it yourself with the Apostles Creed and it would be a lot shorter.  I'm using the Nicene because I have a lot of kids and a wide age spread. Also, it's the translation that we use at Mass.

Each kid is given a page at a time (the younger kids get the simpler, more concrete phrases), and they draw a representation of the phrase in the blank space.  When they are done (for us it will be during lunch) they share and explain their drawing, and we tape it to the wall.

For us, the whole project will take 3  go arounds which will be spread over two or three weeks.  At the end, we should have a wall covered with an illustrated Creed.  I'll post our results later.

If you're not sure about drawing it out, you could try these Apostles Creed coloring pages.

UPDATE: Queen of Carrots suggested this fabulous picture book of the Nicene Creed!

Now I just have to figure out what I am going to do for me!

One suggestion I had heard was to read the Gospels, but we just did that (and the rest of the New Testament) last year.  My Dominican chapter did a fairly exhaustive multi year study of the CCC a few years back.  I'd kind of like to try the Catechism for Adults or the YouCat.  I'd really like to read through all the documents of Vatican II, but I'm wondering if it's a bit ambitious.

Any ideas?  What are you doing for the Year of Faith?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We've Been Webbed!

Or, at least, the front porch has been pretty completely webbed!

Large pipe cleaner spiders seem to have been the culprits...
And we have two sweet snuggly scarecrows next to the front door, thanks to Klenda and Oob!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Green Spaghetti and Meatballs

Choclo was the Kid of the Week, and he wanted Green Spaghetti and Meatballs (like Green Eggs and Ham, but more like dinner, I guess)!

We do have green spaghetti fairly often, but usually it's made with pesto.

But I was out of pesto.

We added green food coloring to the pasta water, and then some more to the alfredo sauce.


Monday, October 15, 2012

More Random Super Heroes

 Here we have Kreeum Break.

And Crispy (the guy with the big sword)

Animal Lass!

And Clash-Man (nuff said)!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Junior Ladies of Charity

Klenda and Leena have joined the Junior Ladies of Charity - so fun!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Guest Post from Klenda: The Excuse List

 Actually, I made this list some time ago, but never showed Mom! So one afternoon, I was looking through my notes, and came across this; after reading it to mom aloud,enjoying every moment, she highly recommended (with what breath she had left) that I put it on the blog. So here goes...

I truly apologize, My Dearest Mother, but I can't load the dishes into the dishwasher because...

#1: My hands are allergic to slime.
#2: My pet monkey glued my eyes shut. again.
#3: Choclo's Pet alligators bit off my leg.
#4: When my hands get sticky or slimy, Oob's ultra-rare Slime Slugs will start sucking the slime off my hands and,in the prosses, start sucking off my skin.
#5: Its Leena's job and  #6:I'm not so cruel as to deprive her of this disgusting loathsome character-building task.
#7: The family dog has already licked most of the dishes clean.
#8: I heard you calling me so I started to come downstairs but I remembered I needed to bring down a pencil sharpener but it fell in my eye so I had to go to the emergency room.
#9: My shoes are 3 sizes to small and so I've got blisters all over my feet.
#10: I have to think up another excuse.
#10 1/2: Godzilla squashed me flat.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Superhero Week

 We have been celebrating Superhero Week this week!

We've been doing lots of fun things like battling laundry monsters and answering "HERE I COME TO SAVE THE DAAAAAY!" every time we are called.

We also have been designing characters on index cards for a card game we are making up (as we go along), and, of course, making all kinds of costumes.

My favorite activity, however, has been this one: I traced each of the kids and let them color in the outline as a super hero.  Then we cut them out and taped them all over the house!

This one is Shadowman from Zorg.  He is very strong and skillful, and has the ability to become a shadow. In his shadow form he can move as quickly as a shadow, and he can also become intangible, as well as invisible among other shadows!

This one is Leena's.  She is Acitage!  She  has a gun that shoots a special acid that doesn't effect living tissue.  Thus it doesn't actually hurt evil doers, but it does dissolve non living things like fur and hair.  She also has super spiky boots which she can use to kick people and super spiky bangs which she can also use as a weapon!

 This is Crombie, as described by Choclo.  He destroys all criminals in his path! He's his favorite own self.  He wanted to eat a hundred hot potatoes, but they couldn't hurt him.(?)  His hand is metal.  He has a big dangerous whip. He can pull a spear out of his metal hand and he can scare away his enemies by making a big scary noise!

And this one by Oob does not have a name, but he does fight bad guys. Oob tells me: He's pretty short and he has gems.  The gems don't do anything, they just look nice.  He's a lot powerful.

 This one is Animalass, and she was made by Klenda: She has the power to turn into any animal, and can talk to animals while she's human. 

This hero is by Mxyl: This fellow never had any powers; he was just a relatively average guy who always wanted to be a superhero, but never had the right materials.

He once entered his room and found that one of his CDs was broken.  Out of pure curiosity, he threw the CD at his dart board as though it were a shuriken, and as almost an omen it crashed into the bull's-eye mark, shattering the CD into a thousand pieces!

That moment was an inspiration to him.  It took him years of training, collecting and more-than-slightly damaging CDs to become an entirely new superhero.  His mother fully approved and made him his own costume.  From that moment onward, he was a real-life Batman; a champion of justice; a man whose determination no villain could hope to stop: Broken CD Man!

He wears half of a CD as a mask, and has several gadgets, including grappling hooks (three CD halves make for a perfect grappling claw), and a CD-scrambling device (after he was officially recognized by the public he was given a device that can rewrite CDs to 'say' anything he wants, or just break them.  It's very useful for espionage).