Thursday, July 31, 2014

At the Beach: Round 3

Still playing at the beach every day: lots of running in and out of the waves, lots of boogie boarding!

 Of course, there's always time for science: we love to investigate all the little sea creatures we can find.

At low tide, you can see that these rocks and pilings are covered with mussels and barnacles.

And then it was time for some Secret Monkey Clan mini golf!

This year we did Shell We Golf.

It's part of the always fun Sea Shell Shop, and has a nice "Tropical Island/Sea Shell/Volcano/Water" theme.

It's a fun course: not too hard for the younger set, challenging to the casual mini golfer, and full of  kitschy ornaments.

Plus they give you hats!
Unlike many courses, it's immaculately maintained, and beautifully landscaped, so you get the full tropical flavor.

Best of all, they provide quite a bit of shade - pretty essential at the end of July!

 After lunch, we took a trip down to the Fenwick Island light house.  We've been here before, but not in several years.

There were supposed to be regular tours, but we found it locked up, to our disappointment. Last time we had gotten to climb it. 

But it was still neat to look at, and we got to see the boundary stone:

Klenda and Choclo are standing in Delaware, and Mxyl, Oob, and Leena are in Maryland!

And we finished up the trip with a visit to Candy Kitchen, a perennial high light to our beach trips!

That pretty much erased any lingering disappointment!

Secret Monkey Clan Forever!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

At the Beach, Interlude: Dawn of the Secret Monkey Clan

 Thus, it began: outcast and disgraced before all by the nefarious machinations of the Ape Clan, this remnant of a virtuous and noble house banded together to right injustices.

Seeking neither fame nor fortune, yet bound to fight oppression and evil in any form, and known only by a small (and sometimes invisible) monkey tattoo on the inside of their right wrist, they are...

The Secret Monkey Clan!

 It began thus: zipping along the boardwalk in a surrey, we spied many fun looking arcades.  When we returned to investigate, alas!  Gone were the Pac-man filled arcades of yesteryear. 

But, they still had skee ball, and some other fun stuff amidst the gambling games, so we gave each of the Zoomlians a buck to spend as they chose.

Playing games means winning tickets, and tickets mean prizes!  The older Zoomians pooled tickets to get several things they liked, and Zorg chose a packet of tattoos. 

He bypassed the dinosaur and rock n roll tattoos in favor of an animal pack showing a monkey. 

Except it wasn't a pack of animal tattoos with a monkey on top. 

It was a pack of 25 monkey tattoos!

What do you do with 25 monkey tattoos? 

We took the obvious answer: form a Secret Monkey Clan  of sworn brotherhood, and create a Secret Monkey Clan Dessert.

If you can keep a secret, here it is, if you are a clever enough monkey to figure it out:

Secret Dessert: Monkey Picks Two Peaches
Peel and slice 6 peaches into a pot.  
Add sugar to taste (sour peaches= 1/2 c. sugar, sweet peaches = 1/4 c.)
Add 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, cloves)
Simmer until peaches are soft, add 1 Tbsp vanilla.
Serve warm over vanilla ice cream!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

At the Beach: Round 2

 Besides all the water and sand play, we've been doing lots of other fun things.

We've been taking a lot of pictures!  Not just the snapshots you've been seeing on the blog, either.

 Mxyl has gotten really into photography, and I've always been really interested.


My brother is a professional photographer, and we have a number of other photographers and artists in our friends and family, so it's great to see it in another generation!

Another of Mxyl's

 We've also been flying kites, something we love, but can't do where we live (too many trees and wires).

And, lest we forget our favorite thing to do at the beach, we tooled around in a surrey!

This was amazing!  We now have SIX serious peddlers!  Gone are the days of the Emperor and I peddling our legs off to try to haul all the kids, the surrey and ourselves.  Now we can ride while the kids peddle!

To all those I know who have a ton of little kids:  YOUR DAY WILL COME!

And it's going to be sweet!

Monday, July 28, 2014

At the Beach: Round 1

We are at the beach this week!

We've been playing in the water - boogie boarding, mostly.

The waves aren't really large enough to surf here usually, but boogie boarding is like surfing lying down, and it works with much smaller waves.

We've seen lots of dolphins, too, although I don't have any pictures of them.
 And we've been playing on the sand.

Zorg came up with the brilliant theory that the beach was the perfect place for an epic Nerf (kind of a firm foam) battle!

So we packed up our entire armory: swords, battle axes and maces, and took them to the beach...

"Epic" hardly covers it!

 And we built sand castles

 At the water's edge!

This is actually Choclo's "sand submarine."  His submarine didn't get washed away, it just submerged in the sand and is still roaming around under the beach somewhere.

And we enjoyed the sun, the breeze, and the company!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Poem of the Week

"maggie and milly and molly and mae"

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea
Author: e.e. cummings

HT: Annabooth at

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mxyl!

 Happy birthday, Mxyl! 

It's hard to believe that Mxyl is 17!

Why, when we started the blog, he was only 10.

And, of course, the Emperor and I remember when he was
much younger than that!

I think that baby would probably fit in Mxyl's shoe now...

But now he's taller than I am, and he's driving cars.

And going to Spain.

 And developing his own fashion sense and stuff. 

It all goes so fast!
Cupcakes...with bow ties!

17 Great Things About Mxyl

1. He really does have his own fashion sense!
2. He likes figuring out calculus with me.
3. He's a very patient and loving older brother.
4. He's a very adventurous and fun older brother!
4. He helps out without being asked.
5. He's a Life Scout.
6. For his Eagle Project, he's helping fix up a crisis pregnancy center.
7. He can figure out many things on the computer which I can not.
7. He really enjoys art.
8. He can make great bread.
8. He really thinks about other people.
9. He's an angelic altar server.
10. He can do truly amazing computer animation.
11. He loves Gothic archetecture.
11. He has an amazingly professional writing style.
12. He doesn't often build with Legos anymore, but when he does, it's always spectacular!
13. He likes to figure things out.
13. He can run a mile in about 7 minutes!
14. He's quick with jokes and puns: very funny,  never mean.
15. He enjoys learning new stuff about practically anything.
15. He likes to stay up late, chatting with us.
16. He has an amazing eye for photography.
17. He's a very loving son!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cleaning Up

 Have you noticed that every time you undertake a big cleaning project, the rest of the house falls apart?

After The Great Library Sort of 2014, I felt like I was chasing chaos around the house into progressively smaller rooms.  I think I may have actually, for the first time ever, caught it! Unless you want to think about the back basement, which I do not.

The penultimate last bastion was the home school room.

We call it that, because it holds most of our home school resources (except that a lot of the books have migrated to my office). Some people expect desks and black boards...

Instead it has the museum, art and craft supplies, games, puzzles, plants, experiments, seismographs, random other scientific equipment, castles, electronics, private drawers (not underwear, just drawers set aside for specific Zoomlians), and a giant floating Angry Bird.  And lots of other stuff.

The idea is that you could walk in with nothing to do, and decide to make a wearable paper mache mask of Iron Man, or extract DNA from bananas, or  make soap, or mess around with magnets, or watercolor  painting. The list goes on and on!

The up side is that it really is a room full of wonderful things. It's a kid magnet, and usually a young visitor's favorite room.

The down side is that it's hard to keep orderly.  I feel like we're always one giant messy art project away from disaster in there... a frequent occurrence.

On the other hand, it's the most fun room for me to clean, as I always find new fun stuff whenever I excavate  tidy it up.

Zorg and Choclo's room
I think that organization is always going to be a challenge for me, partly because I am not naturally organized.

Also, it's a moving target: the older Zoomlian's expand their horizons, the younger Zoomlians leave the interests of younger kids. We enter and leave new phases and seasons, sometimes with a sigh and a tear in the eye, sometimes with grateful relief!

But it feels good to pass on things we've loved but can't use.  And it feels great to have a clean house!

I think this is bigger than cleaning house, though.  It's trying to readjust my life and my space to the kids I have now. It's trying not to be attached to stuff.  It's trying to find the balance between prudence (I might need this some day) and trust in God's Providence.  Sue has promised a post on what she is calling "minimizing,"  and I am very curious to see if she is talking about something similar.

Trust me, you don't want a "Before"
I will say one thing, since some of the older Zoomlians have asked for more philosophical posts.

As a young (and very disorganized) mom, I made a specific decision that, when a child wanted to do something, I would not say "no" just because it would make a big mess (although I might say we need to do it after the dinner party).

And really, I haven't.

We've made some pretty big messes, but we've had a  lot of fun!

Did you think I was kidding about the giant floating Angry Bird?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Poem of the Week

Napoleon at the Great Sphinx 1798


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.' 

Poem HT: Poem Hunter
Image HT:  Sacred Sites

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Back to Egypt Part 3: Favorite Ancient Egypt Resources

A little cuddle on the couch with his mummy
So, aside from warehouse club packages of toilet paper, here are some great resources we found in our Egyptian study.

The Amazing Pop-Up, Pull-Out Mummy Book.  As you can see, it's not exactly a book, more a kid sized, pop-out mummy with cool flaps to look under, and interesting text boxes.

I'm not saying that Choclo loves this mummy, just that he enjoys hanging out with it at all times and doesn't want it out of his sight.

We got it used in very good condition, and it really was in great condition!

Also, during The Great Library Sort of 2014, we discovered we had another mummy pop up book, because, you know, how can you ever have too many?

This was the excellent Egpytian Mummies: A Pop Up Book.  It's more bookish, but with lots of great pop ups and "lift the flap" discoveries.  We actually found about a dozen fun books on Ancient Egypt, but what I really wanted to share was the free web resources!

First off, Pinterest is a gold mine of Egyptian ideas. Several gold mines, in fact!

Our favorites were this mummification game.  Possibly not for the faint of heart, but, if you can get past the brain, it's fine.  I'm just saying preview it!  The same site had a nice hieroglyph translator (see your name in hieroglyphs).

If you are a fan of the "You wouldn't Want to.." series, they have the mummy one (and several others) online and interactive here. 

There's an interesting interactive CT scan of mummies here.

We also loved the Egyptian Mad Libs.  Actually, there were lots of fun things at that site, but we really liked our Mad Lib story of Cleopatra:

The Egyptian queen Auntie Em was totally Greek but is believed to have been able to read, write, and speak Egyptian. She was married to her blue brother David Attenborough and they ruled Egypt together, although they hated each other. He tried to have her killed but Auntie Em was tipped off and she fled to Pennsylvania. She returned with an army and the two had a stand off with neither side willing to budge. At about the same time, the Roman Street Sweeper Agent Coleson arrived on the scene. He sided with Auntie Em and killed David Attenborough. Auntie Em and Agent Coleson became romantically involved and had a son. She followed Agent Coleson back to Rome and stayed there until his death. Then she and her son returned to Egypt to explode. After Agent Coleson defenestrated, there was a power struggle between his adopted son Larry Boy and his friend Swamp Thing. Auntie Em became romantically involved with Swamp Thing and they hoped to create a truly stinky kingdom of Egypt and Rome together. In 31 BC the feud between Larry Boy and Swamp Thing erupted into a battle at sea off the coast of Greece. Swamp Thing and Auntie Em ditched the battle and fled back to Egypt, defeated. The following year, Larry Boy came to Egypt to assume control. Auntie Em didn't want to be humiliated by being paraded through Rome as a sandwich, so she pickled herself, supposedly by letting a poisonous penguin bite her. Egypt was now part of the Roman Empire and was thereafter ruled by emperors, not pharaohs.

Lastly, this video, set to music, was a nice "capstone" to a study of Ancient Egypt  It's only about 5 minutes, and evidently is part of a series: Music of History.  I plan to look into more of these.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Happy News!

 Guess who's back?

It's Mxyl and Klenda, back from Spain!!

They are incredibly happy and surprisingly tanned!

Sorry to leave Spain, Tia, Tio, and their cousins, but happy to be home with Dad, Mom, and their brothers and sisters!

They brought Choclo and Oob an interesting collection of rocks, shells, and corals from the mountains and beaches of Spain.

They look serious here, but they were just fascinated. They really loved the addition to their collection.

 They brought Zorg a sketchbook from the Prado museum, so that he could keep all his ideas in one place.  Zorg overflows with cool ideas and drawings, but they often get lost on loose sheets of paper.

And they brought Leena these cool shades!

They also brought the Emperor and I a print from the Prado, and a cool book mark/magnifying glass!

So much cool stuff!  So happy to have them back!