Sunday, November 24, 2013

Poem of the Week: Thanksgiving

A Grateful Heart
Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
George Herbert

HT: Linda Ann Nickerson

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cryptologic Museum

model trains and houses showing hobo codes

 This was an amazing museum! And FREE!
Seriously, if you live nearby, go!

The Cryptologic Museum is a museum about codes and ciphers: encoding, decoding, and all manner of secret writing.

It's arranged so that you travel through time, starting with the (relatively) simple ciphers of the Revolutionary War.

Actually, they have a copy of the Rosetta stone in the lobby, so I guess it starts earlier than that!

 They also showed the flag codes, code books and cipher wheels used in the Civil War.  The kids got to write things in all these codes and ciphers.  They even got to use invisible ink made from baking soda and water, revealed with purple grape juice.

A major favorite was the Enigma machines!  We got to encode and decode our names on the two machines for public use.
 They had quite a bit on World War II codes, since they played such a large part in the war.  My favorite was the section on the Navaho Code Talkers. "The most ingenious and successful code in military history."

They actually gave us two tours: one for the older kids, one for the younger.  The younger kids favorite thing was this robot.  It's a little hard to see, but the robot is scanning codes on hundreds of data tapes, removing them, sending them to requested computers, then replacing the tapes.

The kids all agreed that a robot that automatically put everything away exactly where it belonged would be a handy addition to their rooms!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Random Acts of Science

It's not all squashbuckling.  The other day, I noticed that Zorg and Leena were flying peppers down the stairs.

They had worked out a way to make parachutes from paper and pipe cleaners, and were sailing the peppers down in pairs, much to the delight of the audience lining the stairs.

There's quite a bit of random science going on all the time here.  I keep finding strange things in the freezer (and outside now that it's freezing at night).

Recently, Zorg asked if he could see what would happen if he microwaved a partially inflated balloon.  He thought it might expand in volume, but he wasn't sure.

I wasn't sure what would happen, either, because there wouldn't be much water in the air in the balloon, so I agreed to watch and provide technical assistance (my plan: I'd stop the microwave if the balloon seemed to be burning).

At 30 seconds we didn't notice any change, and the balloon didn't seem too warm.  I suggested that we draw a line that we could measure.   This time we tried a full minute and the balloon (still not very warm) had expanded the line from 9 inches to 9.5 inches!

We immediately thought of other possibilities: would a more fully inflated balloon see a greater proportional expansion? Would there be a difference between a balloon inflated with a pump (plain air) and one inflated by mouth (warmer, moister air)? (Me: should I put in a cup of water with the balloon, so I don't damage my microwave?)

I'd show you the balloon, but I cut it up to make a working model of a lung.  More on that later, we're finishing up Anatomy and Physiology this week!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Problem Children

 We've been having a problem at our house with too many squashbucklers.

No really, look how distressed Klenda is!

She looks like she's being pun ished.
And look at that spaghetti squash she's holding.

Sad, really.  No squash left unbuckled.

Ah, well.   I suppose it could be worse.

George Washington does not approve this message.
We could have buck an ears.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Inspiration and Expiration

Literally. :) I great, clear video, and, for bonus points, the narrator is Scottish!  Did I mention that , after watching The Rise of the Continents, Oob wants to grow up to be a Scottish Geologist?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fall at the Arboretum

 Last week we were scheduled to do the Library of Congress, but... no one showed up to go with us, and I was feeling a bit daunted at the prospect of needing to park about a mile away. 

So I took a quick poll of the Zoomlians, and we went off to the Arboretum instead!

We played hide and seek at the Capitol Columns.  The reflecting pool was having an algal bloom, so we took a sample to look at under the microscope.

 Then it was off to the dogwood garden.  This garden doesn't have a lot of flowers, just a lovely sweep of wilderness on one side, and islands of dogwoods on the other.  It's beautiful in a Jane Austen kind of way!

Mxyl and Klenda tried a new way of wearing scarves.  It took me three pictures to get one where they were both smiling.

We walked from that garden through the camellia garden to the Asian garden.
Lovely camellias!!
 The Asian garden was beautiful!

We really hit the leaves at their peak.

It was a lovely relaxing trip!
No, really, everyone loved it!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Poem of the Week

 My Dad used to quote from this poem on frosty mornings, and there really is something invigorating about the chilly weather, as well as something satisfying about bringing in the harvest! 

At our house, our harvest is mostly gathering herbs for drying: sage, rosemary, winter savory, thyme, oregano, and curry for cooking; pineapple sage, bergamot, lemon verbena, lemon balm, and peppermint for teas; sometimes artemesia, hydrangea heads, and rue for crafts.

When the Frost is on the Punkin

By James Whitcomb Riley
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover over-head!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! ...
I don’t know how to tell it—but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me
I’d want to ’commodate ’em—all the whole-indurin’ flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!
HT: Poetry Foundation

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Praying For Our Brothers and Sisters

Praying for all those affected by the monstrous typhoon that hit the Philippines and Vietnam.

 I know there is someone in Cebu (in the Philippines) who checks my blog regularly - I don't know your name, or when (or if) you will be able to see this, but the Zoomlians and I are all praying for you.

For the rest of my blog readers, please pray for this person, and all those affected by this terrible storm.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Capitol Trip

Take the picture, quick!  We're freezing!
 Last week we took a fun trip to visit the Capitol building in Washington, DC!

It was a chilly hike from where we parked, up Capitol Hill past the actual building to the below ground visitor's center behind the building.

The other times I had been there, they had let us take the tour a little earlier than our passes stated, but this time they were very busy and we had to wait.
Zorg putting together the key
 Waiting wasn't so bad once we found a pair of wonderful docents who explained how the Capitol was built.

Much of the labor was done by slaves, and we got to see replicas of the shoes and clothes provided, as well as many of the tools.  We were all very interested in this "key", a wedge shaped device, used for lifting stones, and apparently in use in Roman times.

Finally, it was time for the tour! 

I have always loved the beautiful dome on the Capitol.  This is what it looks like on the underside.

The painting in the center is The Apotheosis of George Washington. It shows our founding father being lifted into heaven surrounded by women representing the states and various virtues.

That's Blessed Junipero Serra in the middle!
 Another favorite is the Statuary Hall.  This was the original chamber of the House of Representatives... until they discovered that an accident of architecture  made it possible to hear clearly everything whispered on the other side of the room,but nothing spoken directly from the podium.  Oops!

Each state gets to send two statues representing notable people from their state.  The statues are all over the Capitol building, but many are here in this hall.  It's fun to see the different people honored: poets, inventors, soldiers, statesmen, and social workers.

 And this is the original Senate chamber.  Both the Senate and the House have built larger more acoustically favorable chambers in other parts of the building.

My favorite part of the tour came at the end, when Zorg asked our guide about an ornate crystal chandelier.  Her answer surprised us: "It's a beautiful chandelier, made of Czechoslovakian crystal, but it has no historical value.  We got it at a yard sale in 1969."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Poem of the Week

Winter Moon
by Langston Hughes
How thin and sharp is the moon tonight!
How thin and sharp and ghostly white
Is the slim curved crook of the moon tonight!

HT : Song of America

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What Are You Thankful For?

Every November we like to write out the things we're thankful for.

This year we started early!  Some time in April, I found a little blank book and used it to start writing down things we were thankful for.

We're currently on number 1085!

And yes, we do read Ann Voscamp!

Still, we wanted to something as a visible reminder of gratitude as we near Thanksgiving.  Usually our book is tucked away on the children's altar in the chapel.

This year we decided to make a paper chain.  Each link is something we are thankful for: from parents to video games, and, as it grows this month, we'll hang it around the living room, reminding us that gratitude is the key to joy!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Happy Secret Silly Day!

Yes, today is Secret Silly Day, a fact discovered by Klenda when she came to breakfast quite nattily dressed, but wearing very silly socks (invisible beneath her brown corduroy slacks).

This has led to much (secret) silliness.

I, for one, have been making very silly faces at my kids all day whenever they aren't looking at me.  Don't tell them, it's a secret.  I also served pumpkin pie for breakfast: silly breakfast or dessert at a silly time?  I'll never tell.

Other Zoomlians have been hiding secret giggle buttons under their shirts, and whispering jokes.

Hope your day is secretly silly!

Monday, November 4, 2013

All Your Questions Answered

Mxyl : What exactly is halfway decent? What's the half?

Klenda: Meh.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Poem of the Week

Here's one I had never seen before, but I loved the imagery!


By Stephen Vincent Benét
My mind’s a map. A mad sea-captain drew it   
Under a flowing moon until he knew it;
Winds with brass trumpets, puffy-cheeked as jugs,   
And states bright-patterned like Arabian rugs.   
“Here there be tygers.” “Here we buried Jim.”   
Here is the strait where eyeless fishes swim   
About their buried idol, drowned so cold   
He weeps away his eyes in salt and gold.   
A country like the dark side of the moon,   
A cider-apple country, harsh and boon,   
A country savage as a chestnut-rind,
A land of hungry sorcerers.
                                              Your mind?

—Your mind is water through an April night,
A cherry-branch, plume-feathery with its white,   
A lavender as fragrant as your words,   
A room where Peace and Honor talk like birds,   
Sewing bright coins upon the tragic cloth   
Of heavy Fate, and Mockery, like a moth,   
Flutters and beats about those lovely things.   
You are the soul, enchanted with its wings,   
The single voice that raises up the dead   
To shake the pride of angels.
                                                 I have said.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy All Saints Day!

And here are our saints this year:
 Oob is St. Luke, patron saint of doctors.

Choclo is St. Mark, whose symbol is a lion.
 Leena is St. Kateri,the first Native American saint.

Here they are ready to go trick or treating!

Meanwhile, for our home team this year (giving out the candy), we had  Zorg as St. John Bosco (patron of youth and founder of my beloved Salesians), Mxyl as St. James Kisai (one of the Japanese martyrs crucified at Nagasaki), and Klenda as St. Adelaide, (patron of queens and prisoners among other things).

What's with the... lesser known saints?

We are off to the co-op All Saints party where, among other games, you win a prize if no one can guess your saint!

Which is also why this post won't publish until the afternoon, lest we spill the beans before the game!