Friday, September 30, 2016

Seven Quick Takes: Chemistry, Paper, and Ink

1. Chemistry is going really well.

 I'm really enjoying having an all boys class and an all girls class for the first time ever.

There's a certain camaraderie in the single sex classes that is so fun to watch!

Also these particular kids are great: very into chemistry and doing experiments and super fun to be around.  I love teenagers!

2.   It's a special time in life to be able to enjoy both teens and younger kids.

Usually Klenda and Leena do things with Choclo and Oob during part of the boys' class (Zorg does this during the girls' class) and then they spend the rest of their time left to their own devices.

They wandered into the tail end of Chemistry looking like this.

Pretty awesome devices!

3. In other news, Klenda, Leena and I have been working on crafts for our parish fundraiser.

Among other things, we've been making these tiles using alcohol inks and writing saint quotes on them with sharpies (which really are another alcohol ink).

This was our first try, but it was so fun,
we're working on a second batch already!

There are tons of tutorials on using alcohol inks, but this was my favorite:

4. Speaking of creativity, Oob has been making all sorts of special (non alcoholic) drinks.  He loves to serve them to people on ice with a straw and a fancy umbrella!

Not just any umbrellas, the best mini umbrellas!

 Also, I've been finding little paper scenes taped around the house.

Oob's explanation: "It's sort of a crafty kind of thing that I like to do."
 5. Our hot weather finally broke: we went from a high of 98 to a high of 68 in two days!   But now it is lovely September weather in the low 70s.

Well, actually now we're in the middle of 5 days of rain after nearly a month of dry weather.

That's Choclo checking the rain gauge.  Three Four inches so far, and the garden is much happier!

6. Right before it started raining, and on the last of the hot days, we put up our new sheds!

These were intended to be storage for our bikes, especially since Zorg got a nice new bike for his birthday. We got two so the bikes wouldn't be crowded and hard to remove.

But... All the bikes are crowded in the shed on the right and the left shed has turned into a clubhouse.  Surprise!  I figure some day I will even have space in the shed for a lawn mower, but I'm probably happier stuffing it with kids anyway.

7. I'll just leave you with this "Take a picture of us thinking with The Thinker!" shot.

If you've been in DC, this is the sculpture garden between Natural History and National Gallery.

And I'm thinking you should have a great weekend!

Thanks for stopping by, more fun with Kelly!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Big Trip: Iceland

Back on The Big Trip, we visited (imaginarily) Iceland!

We stayed in Reykjavik and did day trips to go ice diving (yes, that's a thing!) and volcano spotting.

The ice diving was really cool.  Freezing, in fact!

You use a dry suit instead of a wet suit so it's a bit warmer than it looks, but it's till pretty cold.

The underwater rock and ice formations are amazing, though!

And then we sprang for a helicopter tour (it took two helicopters for all of us) of the local volcanoes.

This was amazing, as well as jaw droppingly expensive.  Between hotels, food, and tours, we spend over $20,000 in Iceland- not counting over $8,000 in plane tickets from Svalbard to Reykjavik!

That brings our running total to $122, 648. Good thing we can imagine a lot of money!

Back at home, we watched Julia Bradbury's Icelandic Walks, and ate smoked lamb. Yum!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Awesome History Round III: Awesome Modern History

 I am so far behind blogging!  We started  Awesome History two weeks ago!

We are continuing A Child's History of the World by Virgil M Hillyer, picking up where we left off last semester, and we'll finish the book this semester.

Our first class was chapters 67-69, which covered Protestants, Queen Elizabeth, and Shakespeare.

Our art activity  and our active activity were a performance of a simplified Midsummer Night's Dream with Choclo playing Bottom.

We did  fruit, bread, and home made cottage cheese for our snack.

I hadn't really thought about it, but cottage cheese is called that because it's the kind of cheese that's easy to make at home (as opposed to cheddar or brie which require specialized skills).

The next week we did chapters 70-72, covering slavery, Cromwell, and Louis XIII and XIV.

For our active activity we did ninepins, a classic game from that time and a precursor to bowling.  We used empty water bottles as pins, and a small ball (a tennis ball would work well).  We set up a little alley in the front hall which helped keep the ball from going wild and ensured that even the littlest kids knocked over pins!
 For our art activity, we made golden sun masks like King Louis XIV, the "Sun King."

We cut our masks out of regular paper plates (really young kids drew them, with adults helping to cut them out).

I then spray painted them gold (outside!).  The genius of this is that the paint absorbs into the paper, so it dries practically instantly.

Then we taped them onto straws as holders.

For our snack, we did a fancy tea with chocolate Madeleines.

I've been making Madeleines for a while now- ever since my friend Rose gave me a set of pans and a Madeleine cookbook as a birthday present- but I hadn't tried chocolate.

My conclusion is that I just like Madeleines!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Alkali Metals for Chemistry

We had been discussing how the periods (the rows) on the Periodic Table tell you how many electron shells are in the atom, and the groups (columns) tell you how many electrons are available to interact.

Since the outer shells require more energy, as you go down in the group and get more shells farther out, you get similar reactions, but with dramatically increasing violence as shown here.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Chemistry (and Pirates)

Yes, I know it be Talk Like a Pirate Day, but I be trying to catch up on all the stuff we been too busy to blog about! Shiver me timbers!

Annnd, I'll take a break from that to tell you that we started high school Chemistry last week.

Evidently, this is the class that many fantastically overcompetent home school moms do not want to teach. Maybe because we work with strong acids, horrible toxins, set things on fire, and occasionally blow things up?

I thought those were why we wanted to do chemistry!

At any rate, I wanted a class of 6 kids.  Six is perfect: enough for a good discussion, but not too many to oversee when we set things on fire, and an even number so they can have lab partners.

I got two classes of six: a girls' class on Tuesdays and a  boys' class on Thursdays! In practice this has been fantastic, and I, at any rate, am really enjoying both classes.

The only change to the plan is that I will now be finishing before Lent, instead of finishing before Thanksgiving (it had been two classes a week).

Unfortunately, neither class landed on Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Adventurers, however, started up with it's very first trip today- let the anchor fall on me liver, that was fun!

We went to the Natural History Museum and saw the skeletons (crossed bones!), dinosaurs, gems and

I'll post more pictures on Wednesday, but I'll leave you with this one of the Hope Diamond being eyed by my crew of scallywags.

To wrap things up, we sang many many verses of "My Name was Captain Kidd," and watched a BBC documentary on Captain Cook.  Not technically a pirate in the conventional sense, but very interesting to watch.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Poem of the Week: It Couldn't Be Done

It Couldn’t Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
      But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
      At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

HT: Poetry Foundation

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Happy Birthday, Zorg!

Happy 16th birthday, Zorg!

 We had a great day together, visiting the Walters with friends, and having a big family party.

16 Great Things About Zorg

1. He is a Life Scout!
2. He sings with amazing emotion.
3. He's really good at gaming.
3. He's a loyal friend.
4. He's always willing to lend a hand.
5. He's very honest.
5. He's really good at math.
6. He's always up for some fun!
7. He's an amazing climber.
7. He's very good at puzzles.
8. He tells great stories.
9. He is always overflowing with ideas.
10. He really cares about other people.
11. He really supports his family and friends in whatever they are trying to do.
11.He looks like Harry Potter when he puts on glasses (without his moustache).
12. He's the Senior Patrol Leader for his Scout troop.
13. He's rocking the moustache!
13. He has a very small beard.
14. He's really funny, he's always making people smile and laugh!
14. He wants to volunteer for the fire fighters.
15. He's very friendly, as in makes friends everywhere, all the time.
16.  He's a very loving son!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Poem of the Week: To be of use (Happy Labor Day!)

To be of use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

HT: Poetry Foundation

Thursday, September 1, 2016