Friday, January 30, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Scouts, Swing, and Pig Snouts

 1. Choclo made this cool little racer in Cub Scouts!  It was a kit based on Erector sets - remember those?  Choclo had done innumerable Lego sets, but nothing you had to bolt together.

He did a great job with the car, and then made this little scene to keep it in!
2. Zorg picked up this snazzy purple fedora, and he has been wearing it everywhere.

March for Life, sure.  Camping, yep.  Sledding, why not?

The amazing thing to me is that people always seem to have the same reaction: startle, smile, and, "Nice hat!"

To which Zorg grins, gives an elegant bow and a sweep of the marvelous hat, "Thanks!"

3.  In other fashion news, Klenda and Leena went swing dancing!  The Junior Ladies of Charity sponsored the dance to benefit Christians in the Middle East.

We dropped them off at 6 and picked them up at 9 and, as near as I can tell, they danced the entire 3 hours.

The picture is from after the dance, so I think they would have danced another three hours if we had left them there!

One of the things that I find interesting (besides that my kids are all better dancers than I am), is that there were about the same numbers of boys and girls at the dance, all equally enthused about dancing!

4.  Our boys happened to be off camping for the Polar Plunge, or they would have been dancing, too.  As it was they: camped outside, jumped in the Chesapeake Bay, went for ice cream, and then camped again.

And one of them was wearing a purple fedora.

Our Scouts are the real deal!!

I'm going to have more hot chocolate now.

5.  Which reminds me.

Dear Boston: we can haz snow, too?

We keep getting light snows of an inch or two, but we'd really like a nice 6-8" storm!

See, I really do like cold and snow when I have a nice warm house, dry fluffy socks, and a hot tea kettle.

6. Choclo and Oob are on another playdoh binge.

Here we have a man with a fork and knife about to eat a burger larger than his head.
And here we have a flock of cute chickens (and a chick) about to eat a plate of pig snouts.

Which actually isn't as creepy as it sounds: we call tuna salad "pig snouts."

Maybe that's more creepy.

7. Favorite overheard remark (from Choclo):

"Stupid, stupid laws of physics!!"

Well, who hasn't had a day like that?!

Have a great weekend, more fun with Kelly!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Back to the Library

We finally made it back to the library, paid an embarrassingly large fine, and promptly took out 48 more books.

 It really had been a while, as you can tell since one of the overdue books was The First Thanksgiving. 

Still, it was less than 50, so I considered that a win (although, I also didn't bring two kids, so maybe that's cheating).

At any rate, my poor book starved children were enchanted by the stacks of new books: there was nothing but blissful reading and, "Hey, look at this!" for hours when we got home.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ducky Party

 That's what Choclo called it when we decided to make lemon sugar cut out cookies.

His favorite cutter was this cute little ducky, and we did end up with lots of ducky cookies.

But, really, we have a lot of cookie cutters!

This round of baking was inspired by the gift (from the redoubtable Bill) of a new batch of cutters. 

This batch contained a Moose and Squirrel, and really, who can resist that?

 Not us!

I didn't manage to get a picture of the moose, but can you find the squirrel?

Klenda frosted the finished cookies with lemon frosting. 

Lovely and tasty!

And gone before I thought to get a picture...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Poem of the Week

Lady Clare
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
IT was the time when lilies blow,
  And clouds are highest up in air,
Lord Ronald brought a lily-white doe
  To give his cousin, Lady Clare.
I trow they did not part in scorn:        5
  Lovers long-betrothed were they:
They too will wed the morrow morn:
  God’s blessing on the day!
“He does not love me for my birth,
  Nor for my lands so broad and fair;        10
He loves me for my own true worth,
  And that is well,” said Lady Clare.
In there came old Alice the nurse,
  Said, “Who was this that went from thee?”
“It was my cousin,” said Lady Clare,        15
  “To-morrow he weds with me.”
“O God be thanked!” said Alice the nurse,
  “That all comes round so just and fair:
Lord Ronald is heir of all your lands,
  And you are not the Lady Clare.”        20
“Are ye out of your mind, my nurse, my nurse?”
  Said Lady Clare, “that ye speak so wild?”
“As God ’s above,” said Alice the nurse,
  “I speak the truth! you are my child.
“The old Earl’s daughter died at my breast;        25
  I speak the truth, as I live by bread!
I buried her like my own sweet child,
  And put my child in her stead.”
“Falsely, falsely have ye done,
  O mother,” she said, “if this be true,        30
To keep the best man under the sun
  So many years from his due.”
“Nay, now, my child,” said Alice the nurse,
  “But keep the secret for your life,
And all you have will be Lord Ronald’s,        35
  When you are man and wife.”
“If I ’m a beggar born,” she said,
  “I will speak out, for I dare not lie,
Pull off, pull off, the brooch of gold,
  And fling the diamond necklace by.”        40
“Nay now, my child,” said Alice the nurse,
  “But keep the secret all ye can.”
She said, “Not so: but I will know
  If there be any faith in man.”
“Nay now, what faith?” said Alice the nurse,        45
  “The man will cleave unto his right.”
“And he shall have it,” the lady replied,
  “Tho’ I should die to-night.”
“Yet give one kiss to your mother dear!
  Alas, my child, I sinned for thee.”        50
“O mother, mother, mother,” she said,
  “So strange it seems to me.
“Yet here ’s a kiss for my mother dear,
  My mother dear, if this be so,
And lay your hand upon my head,        55
  And bless me, mother, ere I go.”
She clad herself in a russet gown,
  She was no longer Lady Clare:
She went by dale and she went by down,
  With a single rose in her hair.        60
The lily-white doe Lord Ronald had brought
  Leapt up from where she lay,
Dropt her head in the maiden’s hand,
  And followed her all the way.
Down stept Lord Ronald from his tower:        65
  “O Lady Clare, you shame your worth!
Why come you drest like a village maid,
  That are the flower of the earth?”
“If I come drest like a village maid,
  I am but as my fortunes are:        70
I am a beggar born,” she said,
  “And not the Lady Clare.”
“Play me no tricks,” said Lord Ronald,
  “For I am yours in word and in deed.
Play me no tricks,” said Lord Ronald,        75
  “Your riddle is hard to read.”
O and proudly stood she up!
  Her heart within her did not fail:
She looked into Lord Ronald’s eyes,
  And told him all her nurse’s tale.        80
He laughed a laugh of merry scorn:
  He turned and kissed her where she stood:
“If you are not the heiress born,
  And I,” said he, “the next in blood—
“If you are not the heiress born,        85
  And I,” said he, “the lawful heir,
We two will wed to-morrow morn,
  And you shall still be Lady Clare.          

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Guest Blog by Klenda: Wood Carving

 So, recently I have been into carving stamps and things, so someone suggested I try in  three dimensions.

Accordingly, and completely unexpectedly, I got a set of good quality wood carving tools and sharpeners for Christmas (THANK YOU so much, Grammy!), as well as an amazing book by Harold Enlow named Carving Faces

It has everything that you would need to know on the subject, with step-by-step pictures to show what he's doing and how.

Pardon the commercial, but if you like that kind of thing, it's the kind of thing you like.

Also, for my birthday I got a large amount of pine wood blocks, special for carving. (again, thanks to Grammy).
I have not been carving many stamps lately...

One thing that someone really needs to be able to carve well is patience. This sounds like old advice, but I will often frustrate myself by trying to do something in a few big cuts, instead of lots of small ones.  Also, the actual faces take between thirty and forty steps. Fortunately, it's the sort of thing that you can put down and pick up again later.

A large amount of Band-Aids will also be invaluable.

In the top picture, there are two female figures; one on the top and one on the bottom. The middle one I did because I was bored.  But that's not the point. The top one I did while barely glancing at the instructions,and the bottom one I am trying to follow as closely as my still limited skill will allow.

I have not finished the bottom one, but you can clearly see that the face is far and away more three-dimensional, and thus more realistic; It surprised me when I held them up to look at together. The differences were so clearly marked; proof that (as it has taken me several such experiences to learn) the instructions do know what they're talking about.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Praying for Life

And for all those at the March for Life today.  That includes Mxyl, Zorg and Leena!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Happy Birthday, Klenda!

 Klenda is now sweet 16!

To celebrate, she had a Hawaiian Tie Dye party with her friends.

It's hard to see but that's a pineapple shaped cake.  On the inside it's a pineapple-banana- coconut-tie-dyed cake (because we like to keep things simple).

We had paper leias which we attempted to tie dye, and shirts which we actually tie dyed.

We had homemade palm trees with brown coconuts.  Klenda explained that even though we know they should be green, most people do not recognize them unless they are brown.

We told Zorg she was having a horror themed birthday party.

It was a sleepover, since tie dying takes time.  The girls watched Persuasion, talked, giggled, played a ukelele (Klenda had jokingly told her friends it was BYOU, and it turned out one friend had been to Hawaii and actually had a ukelele! And, yes, Annebelle, I am now pronouncing it correctly, thank you!!), and did not sleep.

In the morning, over pancakes,  the kids had a wide ranging discussion. They talked about philosophy, Catholic and Christian apologetics,  language in Jane Austen versus Shakespeare, and the laws of physics.  Is this a home schooled thing, or do other teens talk like this?

 In other birthday news, on her actual birthday, we went to the National Gallery, out to the Silver Diner for dinner, and then home for this remarkable cake (which she helped bake the day before).

It has layers of torte, chocolate mousse, seedless raspberry jam, and chocolate whipped cream coated with shavings of white chocolate. 

I think we'll call it Chocolate Bliss. Pretty sweet!

16 Sweet Things About Klenda

1. She can carve wood really well.
2. She's one lesson away from finishing Pre Calculus!
3. She paints Bionicle portraits in watercolor.
4. She plays the piano and recorder by ear.
4. She writes all kinds of stories.
5. She loves to go to Adoration.
6. Puns!  Did I mention puns?!
6. She does a fantastic Irish accent.
7. She loves Jane Austen books and movies.
8. She can make a swoon worthy chocolate mousse.
9. I'll bet she could make a good chocolate moose, too!
9. She bakes wonderful bread.
10. Ella habla Espanol!
11. She can drive!
11. She's a Junior Lady of Charity.
12. She writes her own poetry!
13. She's a spot on hilarious mimic. 
14. She loves to swing dance! 
14. When she's baking, she does a ridiculous French accent.
15. She can make movies!
16. She is a kind and patient sister.
16. She is a good and loyal friend.
16. She is a sweet and loving daughter!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Plan for Adventure

A tentative plan, but here it is:
Ready for an Adventure?

There are two issues with planning field trips for the spring semester.  The first is weather: it's hard to predict nice days and blooming trees.  I'll e mail people if weather changes our plans.

The second is easy to predict: this semester is prime time for school groups and tourists at all the major museums.  The crowds make it hard to see exhibits and easy to lose kids, so I plan our big museum trips for early fall.

2/18 Ash Wednesday: Basilica of the Immaculate Conception A great way to kick off Lent!
2/25 Bureau of Engraving and Printing Watch them make money, literally!
3/4 Washington Monument I have a limited number of tickets for 10:30.
3/11 National Zoo Early Spring at the Zoo is very nice.  Many animals are more active in the cooler weather, and there are far fewer crowds.
3/18 Fort McHenry In Baltimore, free parking but $7-10 fee for adults over 18 (not sure when they are changing the rate) The site of some of our favorite field trips!
3/25 Franciscan Monastery The week before Holy Week.
3/30 MONDAY National Arboretum Magnolia Garden, dependent on bloom time.
4/8 OR 4/15 Cherry Blossoms Free parking, $1 per person for the tour tram, dependent on blossoms
4/22 National Zoo (again) Looking at the difference a month makes, seeing the other half of the zoo.
5/1 FRIDAY National Arboretum, Azalea Walk: Lovely hike, dependent on bloom time.
5/5 TUESDAY Shark Tooth Hunt (also a kid birthday for us!)
5/13 TBA, I'm open to suggestions
5/21 THURSDAY Shark Tooth Hunt

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Poem of the Week

To Winter

O Winter! bar thine adamantine doors:
The north is thine; there hast thou built thy dark
Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs,
Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car.'
He hears me not, but o'er the yawning deep
Rides heavy; his storms are unchain'd, sheathèd
In ribbèd steel; I dare not lift mine eyes,
For he hath rear'd his sceptre o'er the world.

Lo! now the direful monster, whose 1000 skin clings
To his strong bones, strides o'er the groaning rocks:
He withers all in silence, and in his hand
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.

He takes his seat upon the cliffs,--the mariner
Cries in vain. Poor little wretch, that deal'st
With storms!--till heaven smiles, and the monster
Is driv'n yelling to his caves beneath mount Hecla.

By: William Blake
HT: Poem Hunter

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Balancing Act

We're back (kinda)!

The portfolio review went swimmingly.  I love having that chance to review how each kid is doing,and it's really revved me up to do more great stuff this semester. 

I kind of had a hard time pulling things together this time, partly because of outside forces, partly because I did not do a good job of blogging all the great stuff the Zoomlians are doing. 

About those "outside forces."  My much beloved mother in law went to the hospital for an asthma attack in early January and discovered the problem was really her heart.  She's out of the hospital now, awaiting surgery.  My dear father in law and amazing sister in law are doing the lion's share of care, but I am going over as often as I can to help out and have a little "mom time."

It's a balancing act.  She has been there for me throughout the last 25 years, and I want so much to be there for her.  The Zoomlians have risen to the occasion heroically, and they are all old enough to be left on their own.  But.

This is the tricky bit: they need me there too.  The smallest part of it is practical. Part of it is educational (although things do seem to just keep going), and part of it is emotional.  When I'm with them, I can see when conflicts and problems are starting, and I usually diffuse them (these kids just need more space), or point them out so the kids can diffuse them (when you say this, what is he hearing?), depending on the age and needs of the kid.  When I'm not there, things can build. 

This too is a learning experience for the kids, and I can see that God is using it.  I just need to discern how God wants me to balance my time. My weekly hour of Adoration has become essential: I need to talk about how things are going and get instructions for the next week.  My friend, Fr. Pinto, used to talk about that, but I am really feeling it now!

And the Lord is arranging things, too.  We didn't have enough teens to do the co-op this semester. We'll continue our Adventurers field trips, but those don't require the level of work of the co-op.

Photo: Ilya Zomb's The Art of Balance from his series The Metamorphoses of Stillness

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Portfolio Time

Portfolio review today!

If you're wondering what a portfolio review is, it's the twice a year check up that my state does on my home school.  And I love them!  Maryland actually only requires that I demonstrate that my children have made progress in a range of subjects, not tremendously difficult to prove, actually.

It all starts when I realize  I have a review coming up.  I "realize" this in my inbox.

Reviewer: Courteous e mail reminder.
Me: Aaaaaahhhh!  Really?  So soon? What did we do?  Did we do anything in the past 6 months?

I then go through my blog and records and rediscover all the fun and fabulous things we actually did and I get excited about everything again (plus  a million more ideas of things we could do next).

By the time we get to the interview it goes like this:

Reviewer (very politely - I love my interviewer!): You are actually educating your kids, right?
Me: You're not going to believe all the great stuff we did!!!

And we go on from there and have a big brag fest.  The county now consistently gives me the same kind, supportive interviewer (who does not read this blog, by the way), so I know we'll both have a great time.

This review is covering last June to last December and here are things we did in:

Social Studies

Monday, January 12, 2015

Extra Awesomeness

How about a little extra awesomeness for your Monday?  Here's a project Mxyl and Zorg developed so that Mxyl could try new special effects:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Poem of the Week

The Box that Brought the Past

I opened up the wooden Box
Shaped like a treasure chest today.
I don't know what made me think of it;
I have not thought of it in many months.
Nor looked inside for longer.

The little Time Capsule, as it must be called,
Although I do not think of it as such,
 Has purple stripes, painted by
 The uncertain fingers of a child,
Since grown steadier.
I took out the contents of the Box,
Each object within, a piece of the People
Who would grow to be me.

Here, the Scapular, so faded that
You would never see that it once had writing.
Or there, the Silver Dollar
Given to me by my Uncle when I was one.
My Past unfurled itself like a cloth,
Stretching out before me, although it has
Always been behind me.

The Ticket to a concert, autographed by favorite singers;
The wrist band from my latest Emergency Room visit;
The Horse Pin, long since broken;
The Nail file that I won, but never used;
The old Arrow head, probably fake.

But why?

Why keep the Past in a Box?
Why contain it? I could take the Memories
And put them all about the house,
So I could always see my Past
Surrounding me.

On the walls, there are many pictures.
Pictures of shared experiences,
So we can all look up and smile
At ourselves, surrounded by Family,
The way it was Before the ending of the Then
And the start of Now.

But these are My memories.

Others look, but have not seen
The past that these trinkets bring
Close enough to touch, but never enter.
I look again at the Box.
Plain enough to look at, with
False bronze catch and hinges,
Clumsy, purple stripes,
And rough, light wood.

But it is mine.
So I place again the objects of Before
Into the Box, each in it's place,
And put the Box back on my dresser.
So that another day I might open it,
See all the useless junk inside,
And remember.

By: Klenda Valtapaz
HT: from the horses mouth.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Algebra Fun

I have noticed that I am missing a lot of things on the blog.  One thing I've forgotten to blog about is Lumptons.  Lumptons are little gumdrop shaped people invented by Leena.

There are Good Lumptons, Bad Lumptons, and Average Lumptons, all with slightly different shapes.  When a Bad Lumpton becomes better, they change shape to look more like an Average or Good Lumpton.
This picture is of a Good Lumpton asking for a flame thrower.  You may notice that they change shape in many circumstances.  This one starts out in her normal shape, is very startled when she isn't given a flamethrower, and then becomes pleadier, and pleadier...

But what do they have to do with Algebra?

Leena finished up the delightful Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra with Biology a while back, and we were trying to decide which Algebra text she wanted to use next.  Of all the Life of Fred books I own, the only one I dislike is Algebra I.  I find it confusing and quite different from the other books in the series.   Math U See is very good, but she hasn't enjoyed it in the past.  The world is full of Algebra programs... but the world is not full of math that Leena will have fun doing.

"Could you teach me Algebra using Lumptons?" Leena finally asked.

Well, why not?  This is my fourth time teaching Algebra, it would be fun to try it with Lumptons!

I decided to use the Math U See program as my schema for scope and sequence (what to teach and the order of presentation), but to explain it all with Lumptons.

Here's an example.  Sally is a Good Lumpton, and Sulky is a Bad Lumpton.  I tell Leena part of the story, she figures out the math, and we write and illustrate the story in a notebook. 

Here, I told Leena that Sally is going into the jelly making business.  She has two jars in her pantry and can make 6 more jars of jelly and hour.  If J is the number of jars, and H is the number of hours, we can say J = 6H + 2

If you've done a lot of algebra, you might say, "Hey! That's the slope intercept formula!"  And it is.

At this point, usually Leena starts coming up with her own questions to further the story.  She wanted to know how long it would take to make enough jelly to feed Sulky for an entire day.  Bad Lumptons eat more jelly than Good Lumptons and Sulky is a very bad Lumpton.  She eats 20 jars a day!

Well if J=20 then 20=6H+2  When she worked it out algebraically, that would be 3 hours.

I find it really interesting that when I teach half the lesson, Leena usually comes up with the other half on her own.  I think that, in school, Leena would be written off as "not good at math." But the fact is that she is very good at math whenever she sees the slightest reason to use it.  She just finds math in abstraction tedious.

The joy of being a fourth child!  My first few tries at algebra, I probably couldn't have done it with Lumptons.  I was written off as "not good at math" in school, and didn't know the subject well enough.  One of the fun things about home schooling is that I actually understand math, and now I really enjoy it!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Do Science!

They're going to spy on penguins for science?
Did you see?  I've added a new set of links to my sidebar: Do Science!  These are links to projects that actual researchers have asked for help with from the public.

The umbrella site for these projects is Zooniverse, and it is well worth a look. 

Interested in astronomy?  We have blogged about Galaxy Zoo in the past, but they have nine other space projects to choose from: Want to look for another Earth? Try Planethunters. Want to see explosions within the sun? Try Solar Stormwatch.

And there are so many other projects!  You could track climate data from old ship's logs, or decipher ancient Greek, or catalog war diaries from The Great War.  They have ten different wildlife monitoring projects going on, everything from plankton to penguins!  And they have biomedical and physics projects, too.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Silly Stuff

So many sweet and funny things over the holidays - if I don't blog them, I know I'll forget.

Choclo gave me this debonair octopus mug, and by "debonair," I mean check out his little bowler hat!

Oob lost a total of three teeth, which leaves him with this adorable jack-o-lantern grin...

We watched another Cirque du Soleil on New Years (along with the Sydney fireworks: thank you Sydney for being so reliably awesome!).

This year we did Worlds Away, and it was my very favorite.  Choclo commented, "I think they are ignoring the laws of physics."

I think he has something there!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Friday, January 2, 2015

Thursday, January 1, 2015

On the Eighth Day of Christmas

The Zoomlians wish you a Happy New Year, and a Blessed Maternity of Mary!