Sunday, January 31, 2016

Poem of the Week: At the Aquarium

At the Aquarium

    SERENE the silver fishes glide,
    Stern-lipped, and pale, and wonder-eyed;
    As through the aged deeps of ocean,
    They glide with wan and wavy motion.
    They have no pathway where they go,
    They flow like water to and fro.
    They watch with never winking eyes,
    They watch with staring, cold surprise,
    The level people in the air,
    The people peering, peering there,
    Who wander also to and fro,
    And know not why or where they go,
    Yet have a wonder in their eyes,
    Sometimes a pale and cold surprise.
    Max Eastman
    HT: Poet's Corner

Thursday, January 28, 2016

You Tubing With Leena

Leena has branched out from music videos and is doing some great live action stuff.  Here she is announcing a Bionicle Impressions contest for her subscribers:

 I think it really showcases her quirky sense of humor!

And she's been doing some fun stop motion stuff!

Update: And she's still making music videos!  This is one of my favorites!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


The thing I didn't realize about covering the south facing roof with solar panels,is that the slick surface doesn't often collect much snow.

But when you get a lot of snow, it piles up in large sheets, then inches down like a glacier.  It forms a snow overhang, which sprouts beautiful icicles.

 And, randomly, in a thundering rush, all that snow breaks free and sheets off the roof in an enormous avalanche!

This is the side of our neighbor's house, about 25 feet (7 meters) away after it was hit by part of our avalanche.

And this is the rest of our (very narrow) back yard.

This is why we don't allow anyone in the back after a heavy snow until we are sure that all the snow is off the solar panels.

That particular avalanche was only the first few feet of the snow on the roof!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Happy Birthday, Klenda!

Klenda turned 17!

 She went ice skating with friends, than everyone came back to the house for a party!
For the teen party she had a chocolate cake rolled with a creamy vanilla filling spiked with cherries and mini chocolate chips.

Later, for the family party, we made this three layer lemon cake with vanilla cream and apricot filling.

The thing was, my oven was broken.   The lower heating element had literally broken, so we cooked very large very thin cakes using the broiler element, and then rolled or layered them!

 Not a problem on the taste scale, and it's fun to meet a creative challenge. And the new element got here before the snow, so we are back in baking business!

For the family party, Pop took us all out to our favorite Chinese restaurant,and then we came back to the house for cake  and presents.

One of her favorite gifts was a leather jacket!

17 Great Things About Klenda

1. She can juggle.
2. She's a whiz at editing podcasts.
2. She's always willing to lend a hand!
3. She loves to cook!
4. She's a serious snow shoveler.
5.She's an amazing artist.
5. Because of her Confirmation name, every Marian feast is her feast day!
6. She's great at decorating cakes (those flowers are hers).
7. She's started doing college at 16!
7. She's a very good wood carver.
8. She's a super fast reader.
9. She's a very supportive sister!
10. She's a proud member of the BCC!
11. She's good at GIMP.
11. She makes fantastic hot chocolate!
12. She's a loyal and compassionate friend.
13. She loves it when we make it to daily Mass.
14. She's over halfway to getting her driver's license!
14. She's a good, safe, cautious driver. :)
15. She loves Jane Austen.
16. Sometimes she will tell me her secret ingredients!
16. She makes the best pie in the world (it's called chocolate buttercream pie).
17. She's a very sweet and loving daughter, and we're very proud of her!!!

Poem of the Week: The Snowstorm

The Snow-Storm

By Ralph Waldo Emerson
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind's masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
6:00 Saturday night, 20 inches (51 cm)
Fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and, at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Kids In Snow!

Snow ice cream!  You take a bowl of fresh snow and mix in a can of condensed milk. Easy peasy and yum!

Snow Way!

Yesterday noon
3:30 (1 inch)

5:00 (2 inches, 5 cm)
6:30 (4 inches, 10 cm: enough to sled in!)

This morning 7:30 (13 inches, 33 cm)

9:00 (didn't check)




And we are almost halfway through the storm!

 Did you know that these little juncos are called snowbirds? 

Now I know why!

It's a lot of snow (with a lot more coming), but great cocoa weather!

I'll update tomorrow with "final" levels, but we are supposed to get the actual blizzard (50 mph, 80 kmph wind with heavy snow) this afternoon, so the wind driven drifting may affect our measurements.

Friday, January 22, 2016

3rd Grade Religious Ed: Wedding at Cana

 Almost caught up!  Last week's gospel was The Wedding at Cana.

Perfect!  We're talking about Jesus bringing the Kingdom!

We started with the Second Luminous Mystery (The Wedding at Can), using this Rosary aid I had made a while back.  It's a different picture and scripture verse for each prayer in the decade.

 We also acted out the story using my (newly acquired) Jesse Box.  This was pretty neat.

The box gives you backgrounds, props and character "cones" which you fit around wooden cores to make them more stable.

The kids really liked this, although I need to find a way for each child to do one character.
 This worked out well as a continuation of the theme that Jesus is showing the Kingdom through his miracles!

I looped back around to parables using the Pearl of Great Price and the Mustard Seed.

For the pearl, I showed them oyster shells and explained how pearls were made and why they were so precious.

I also brought in a few fake pearls and one real (cultured) pearl, and had them try to find the real one. They were able to pick it out!

I asked them if they had any favorite toy that was worth the rest of their toys put together, and told them that when we really find Jesus, He becomes the most important thing to us!

For the Mustard Seed, I brought in a variety of seeds including mustard seeds and we talked about how large each plant would get.

We talked about faith, and the Kingdom growing within us, growing large enough to shelter others.

We also decorated some paper cups and planted marigold seeds.

And we talked about the miracles of healing, especially Jesus raising the dead.  Jesus is showing the Kingdom of God is about him coming to heal us on many levels!

We acted out the healing of the daughter of Jairus, which is always great for kids both because Jesus is raising a child, and because he throws out the noisy people, telling them the girl is sleeping.

For our game we played Wake Up, Go To Sleep.  The game is just the leader (Waker) saying "Go to sleep!" (everyone lies down and starts snoring) and "Wake up!"(everyone gets up looking surprised). I was a little worried it would be too young for them, but they loved it, especially since I was one of the ones sleeping and waking!

That's it for Religious Ed for a while: I'm caught up with what we've done, I can't imagine we'll have it this weekend if we really get 20-30" of snow, and the following weekend is a skip weekend.  By the time the kids see their seeds, they will have really grown!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

3rd Grade Religious Ed: Baptism of the Lord

Class 13 fell on the Baptism of the Lord, so we talked a lot about baptism.

We started out talking about John the Baptist,and his baptism of repentance.  I mentioned that John baptized people, that's why they called him John the Baptist.  One smart child then asked, "But why was he called John?"

Because that's what the angel said to name him.

They're mouths dropped open!  They had never heard that story!

 So I told them the whole story (which knocked off the lesson timing, but it's better to answer an actual question than follow my plan- you never know what the Holy Spirit is doing).

We talked about Jesus coming to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire - that was the baptism they got!  How it washes away sins and makes them a child of God.

And we talked about Jesus' baptism.  No sins, already God's son.  Why was He getting baptized again?  He was identifying Himself with us so that he could take on the guilt of our sins and pay for them on the cross.

Also, it was another epiphany, a revelation of the Trinity!

We took a little field trip to the parish baptismal font, but not before I taught them how to baptize! I think that's why the doll looks a little traumatized, it had just been "baptized" 8 times!

In an emergency, anyone can baptize- even an atheist can perform a baptism as long as they follow the Trinitarian formula and intend to actually baptize the person.  You wouldn't think it would come up often, but in that one room with 8 people, 2 of us (Oob and I) had been emergency baptized by our mothers, and I knew of at least two more!

We talked briefly about Jesus' time in the desert (laying groundwork for Lent),and how he showed the Kingdom of God by showing his power over the devil.

Then we talked about how he showed the Kingdom of God by showing his power over nature.  We acted out the story of the loaves and fishes (using crackers and swedish fish as props- boy, was that a hit!), and Jesus walking on water.

We also talked a little about Jesus revealing the Kingdom through parables, although we were running out of time, so I just did the Treasure in the Field.

The kids loved the story, and I had a quick game called Treasure Hunt.

I just put stickers on index cards, but I'm sure there's a more elegant way to do this.  I had stickers of random things kids like: cookies, a ball, a dog, a snowman, macaroni and cheese (no, I don't know how I ended up with a sticker of that), and Jesus.

I put all the cards face down and the kids took turns picking cards.  This worked really well because all the images were things they liked, but things they wouldn't give everything they had to get (except Jesus!).

Since it was the very last day of the Christmas season, I gave out candy canes when they found Jesus (I let everyone play until they won).

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Random Stuff This Week

 It's been cold!  It's been around 11 (-11 C) when we wake up in the morning, with a high of 27 (-3 C).

And breezy!  Wind chill is real, people.

But it's also been clear and dry and very beautiful.  That's expected to end Friday when we are predicted to get 2 feet (61 cm) of snow over the course of 48 hours (I think that's 2 days in metric).

Then it will be white and windy and very beautiful!

 In other news, college classes started this week, and it was Klenda's first time taking classes on campus. She's taking a painting class and a nutrition class.

Mxyl is taking the same painting class as well as English Lit, Graphic Design, and Evolutionary Biology. Fun!

Klenda's classes overlap with Mxyl's so they are gone together 2 days a week, and then Mxyl has another two days of classes.

It's been kind of weird interesting to have just 4 kids two days a week.
 Choclo has been making lots of progress as a Webelo scout.

Also I think cub scout uniforms are adorable.

So I guess this is just a gratuitous cute picture! :D

Oob lost another tooth!

And immediately asked me to blog about it.

I'm realizing I don't have too  many visits from the Tooth Chicken left!

Also, I'm realizing Oob looks a lot like Mxyl.
Lastly, I discovered that octopus wrestling used to be a sport.  Not only that, it was popular in Washington state!

For our Aussies, Washington state is on the west coast and Washington DC (near where I live) is on the east coast.

My mom grew up in Washington state, so I immediately asked her if she had ever been  professional octopus wrestler and had forgotten to mention it (that may sound like a stretch, but she did race stock cars, so I thought I'd ask).

On the down side, she told me she was never a professional octopus wrestler.

On the up side, that doesn't rule out that could have retained her non-professional status in order to pursue dreams of Olympic Glory!

Did I mention that she reads my blog?