Tuesday, July 18, 2017

a few realy quick words from oob

oob:so, my mom is feeling a lot better now. and, we have been doing a lot of fun things together.
like, the great British baking show. i hope you have a great summer (we will be going on vacation soon),  good luck. we will look forward to seeing you soon. bye!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Seven Quick Takes: The Big Sick

1. I feel like I should explain the last month.

I went to NJ to take care of my mom, who was hospitalized because of a variant of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever/ Tick Disease, got bitten by (the same?) tick, and have been sick and unable to do anything for the last month.  I'm feeling much better now and can be on my feet for an hour at a time.

2. I thought I should do "Seven Things I Learned from Being Well and Truly Walloped by a Tick Borne Disease." I thought about that, but everything on the list turned out to be uselessly practical or practically useless.

Me reading blog books while my children hug me and bring me tea

1. Don't get bitten by a tick.
2. Avoid northwest NJ.
3. Have a husband who gets summers off.
4. Have older children who can drive, clean, cook, and shop.
5. Have said husband and children willing to wait on you for a month and then some.
6. Learn that God loves and cares for you.
7. Drink lots of tea.

3. In Which Wendy Discovers She is Not Required to Make Everything Happen

Stuff really does happen!

Meals were cooked and laundry folded!

Kids continued to learn and try new things, like building 3D models out of paper!

I learned to title my quick takes a la Charles Dickens!  I might still be a little loopy.

4. My favorite tea right now is twig kukicha.  I'm not kidding, you have to try this stuff!  It is, literally, roasted tea twigs and a few leaves.  It tastes kind of creamy and nutty and a little sweet.  It's Japanese.  I don't get any money or free tea or anything for posting this, but I've got 6 boxes of it, so I'm ok with that.  For now.

5. And 4 takes was enough to wipe me out.  So I guess that means I'm 4/7 of the way better!

Have a great weekend, more fun with Kelly!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Guest Blog by Mxyl: Reminiscing

Sometimes it's good to get back to the roots, however small they may seem.  Seeing what you've done can help to inspire you to go further, and it can also remind you why you're doing what you're doing in the first place.  Going through the past can result in a much better perspective, as it contains both mistakes to avoid repeating and once-buried ideas that can inspire greater ones.  To quote a considerably unlikely source, "building the future and keeping the past alive are one in the same thing." 

The Prime Minister is recovering well, slowly but surely (as the previous post shows), and during her recovery, she decided to look and read through a few print-outs of our blog in its earliest years with a few Zoomlians.  Reading together can be a very close time for families, so I decided to try and capture the moment as best I could. 

 Here she is reading with Oob--when the Prime Minister started the blog, Oob was just a few months old!  He was very interested in seeing the stories from when he was that age.  It's very strange for me to see him looking back on what had happened a decade ago, especially since it's a time I can recall fairly easily, whereas he may be hearing about some of his early life for the first time. 
Going back and hearing about the past isn't just about retaining memories.  Reading, recording and documenting life can also help share it with others--even my taking these pictures can help give a taste of life from someone else's perspective, be it the Prime Minister's or Leena's in this photo.  Much like how reading even fictional books (as a certain high school English teacher I know can attest to) can give you a glimpse into how other people view the world, reading the Prime Minister's posts from several years after the actual stories can help give us--especially as Zoomlians--a look into how the Prime Minister viewed the events of the past decade, rather than just going by our views alone.  As an amateur filmmaker, I believe this even ties in to what I want my works to do--the characters, worlds and stories in film can help spread different perspectives to others, allowing them to ask questions that may not have occurred to them, and perhaps leaving them thinking about the world slightly differently. 
Even if things are going slowly, we're still going strong.  Hope to be back soon! 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Oob Asks

Oob: Can we have smores?
Me: I don't think we have all the ingredients.
Oob: Okay.... Can we just have chocolate chips?

Feeling better very slowly, hope to get back to blogging soon

Saturday, June 17, 2017

More Explanations

Much to my surprise, I did not go back to NJ to take care of my mom and dad.  That's because I found spots on my legs the night before I was supposed to leave.  Spots like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever spots.

So, I have a mild case and I am on antibiotics. I'm just really tired and spotted, and tired of being spotted.  I'm not in danger of death, or even hospitalization, if you are seeing all the cases in the news. 

And then my dad also tested positive for it, but he "only" has the fatigue, and he is now on antibiotics.

My mom is continuing to feel better each day, and may be back up to driving soon.  She seems to have skipped the Feeling Horrible for Two Weeks phase.  Thanks be to God! 

And I'm going to take a nap now.

Monday, June 12, 2017


Well, I'm glad I got caught up on all the back blog posts from when I couldn't upload.

Now I have a backlog of posts because I don't have time to sit and type! Here's the deal:

Shortly after my last post, my mom, Mumpy, got very sick and I  needed to run up and take care of her (it only took me 5 hours for a trip that usually takes 6).  She ended up in the hospital and my very dear Aunt and Uncle flew out from Washington state (literally the other side of the country) to help take care of her and Pa.

It turns out Mumpy had Rocky Mountain Spotted Wood Tick Disease, which is a variant of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Fortunately it was caught in time, and she is expected to make a full recovery (this is often fatal if untreated).  But she's in for a rough month.  I am headed back up later this week.

But first, Klenda is graduating high school tomorrow and the next day Zorg is headed off for an epic adventure at Philmont (which is only mostly on the other side of the country).

And the Emperor and I started a six week "boot camp" exercise program called Fit for Christ.  It's been wonderful!  I am so sore!  It's from 5:30-6:30 in the morning 5 days a week! 

But, surprisingly, it really is a good thing.

I hope to post more later, but if it's a while, at least now you know why.  Prayers appreciated!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Steampunk Room

We'll add more gears to this wall as we find them
I've noticed it's really hard to photograph metallic colors.  In photos, the color wash here is shiny brown.  In person, it's shiny coppery bronze- very metallic looking. 

At any rate, doing the finishes on this and the jungle ruins room was really fun.

But probably not as much fun as doing the pipes, and finding things to go with the steampunk theme!

Choclo and Oob put the pipes together like a giant Lego set, and then had the great idea to save some pipe to put around the room coming out of other walls.

The pipes are plastic plumbing pipes and fittings, spray painted black and then  lightly over sprayed with copper and bronze.

I used primer on the smaller pipe, but I'm not sure it made a lot of difference.  They scratched a little as I was cutting them, but I touched them up after they were put together.

So now they have a place for their exotic cactus collection, as well as a cozy reading nook.

Their actual idea was a steampunk space ship, so we are hoping to add lots of dials and gauges (and gears!) as we find them.

They also want more pipes...

And I want a nap!

Jungle Room

Klenda and Leena wanted a jungle theme. 

I wasn't really sure what they meant by that, but, since they were capable of creating it themselves, I told them to go for it!

It's really quite lovely!  They painted the walls a peaceful green, got curtains in a natural "bark" color, and then draped the room in living and silk greenery.

They also got a little fountain decorated with birds, and moved the furniture so they had a lot of open space in the center of the room. 

The effect is rather like a peaceful forest glade.

Mxyl and Zorg liked the jungle idea, but went in more of a "jungle ruins" direction.

It's pretty cool that they made rooms with linked themes since these are the two rooms which are connected by a secret passage.

I also like it that, while they had a similar idea, they really did it in their own style.

It's been one of the real pleasures of parenting for me to watch my children grow into their own ideas and creative styles, and to see them come up with things that never would have occurred to me!

In case you are wondering, they do have beds in their bedrooms, but in both rooms, they put the beds against the same wall as the door, and you don't really see them when you first walk into the room

Friday, June 2, 2017

Room Switch!

 As of last weekend, we were finished with all our classes, had filed all our annual paperwork, had finally caught up with blogging, and no one was sick.

What would we do with ourselves?

We took everything out of all three kid bedrooms, re-painted, re-designed, and reshuffled room mates, then moved everything back in!

 Fortunately, the Zoomlians are old enough to do a lot of the work themselves! The oldest four did all the moving and taping.

Klenda and Leena painted their room. 

Mxyl and Zorg painted the base coat in Choclo and Oob's room.

Meanwhile, we kept the gold in Mxyl and Zorg's room as a base coat, and I ragged on some texture to make it look like stone.

Later I did a bronze color wash over the yellow walls in Choclo and Oob's room. I hadn't realized that I had managed to pick up an oil based glaze.  It worked fine in that the oil bonded well with the latex undercoat, but I won't be able to repaint with latex later without treating the walls first.

Ah, well, the oil gives a depth and shimmer that are really beautiful.

Tomorrow: our results!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Awesome American History: 1849-1856

 This class covered two weeks (since we missed one due to illness) and it covered Sojourner Truth, the Underground Railroad, clipper ships, redwoods, potato chips, and the discovery of fossils in America.

This is pages 99-119 in The American Story by Jennifer Armstrong.

And again I forgot to get pictures except at the end when the youngest member of the group threatened Choclo with a foam sword (adorably).

Our active activity was hide and seek (for the Underground Railroad).

Our art activity was chipping bones out of plaster (fossils).

Our snack was potato chips and birthday cupcakes.

And that's a wrap for Awesome American History I, you can now view the whole thing in the sidebar!  We'll pick up with Awesome American History II in the fall, when, doubtless, I will carefully photograph the entire class!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Guest Blog by Mxyl: Oops^2

A follow-up to my previous oops

My website had, for a while, allegedly been extremely script-heavy enough to crash the server CPU (which, given that I hand-coded everything there, I personally doubt) and wouldn't load, and much more recently it announced that I apparently have to back up everything and restart the uploading from scratch to join a new membership redirect thing. 

Fortunately, by that point, I'd already backed up everything and restarted from scratch.  Powered by the fantastic GitHub, I may now present the new Zoom Times website at valtapaz.github.io/ZoomTimes, complete with a few minor updates and under-the-hood navigation improvements! 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Happy Birthday, Choclo!

Choclo is 12!

He wanted a robot cake, and it came out hardly creepy at all!

Actually, he had two cakes because we celebrated once with Pop, and once with just the eight of us.

On his actual birthday, he wanted a pumpkin cake. He wanted it to look like a pumpkin, and he wanted it to taste like a pumpkin, something I found very funny at the end of May!

He liked it so much that he declared it to be the best 3D cake he had ever seen, "Even better than a 10 layer wedding cake!"

12 Great Things About Choclo

1. He likes to be tickled.
2. He is a Minecraft master!
3. He loves to create secret places.
3. He tells funny jokes.
4. He loves babies.
5. He makes great paper airplanes.
5. He likes to cook special snacks with lots of hot sauce!
6. He knows a lot about sharks.
6. He knows even more about penguins!
7. He can build pretty much anything out of Legos.
8. He has lots of great story ideas.
8. He's about to cross over to be a boy Scout.
9. He's an altar server!
10. He's a Duck fan.
10. He really likes garlic.
11. He's a sweet and loving brother.
11. He likes to play games with "smash" in the title, and he's a good sport
12. He's interested in everything!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy Memorial Day!

 This Memorial Day we split up the visits to the graves.

Last Wednesday we visited Arlington, and Sunday we were supposed to visit our graves at Fort Lincoln.

I'm super glad we did it that way, because Mxyl came down with a horrible stomach bug, and we weren't able to go on Sunday!

As it was, we got to go to at least some of the graves, and we got to see at least some of the cousins.

And today we'll be praying for the dead (and praying that no one else gets sick!).

Bouquets for Moi, Grandpa Frank, and Grandpa Bob

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Poem of the Week: In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

HT: Poetry Foundation

Saturday, May 27, 2017


emerging from the soil
We are getting a front row seat to one of natures epic events: the emergence of the periodic cicadas, also known as magicicadas.  I have no idea how you actually pronounce that, but I say it like magic cicada.

emerging from it's shell and shaping it's wings

The amazing thing is that these creatures are from Brood X, which last came out in 2004.  They are on a 17 year cycle, and should be coming out in 2021, but part of the brood has emerged after only 13 years!

Fully formed but not fully colored

I think enough of them have emerged (we have several hundred emerging from the roots of our largest tree)  that we are essentially seeing the formation of a new brood! 

Magicicadas usually are on either a 13 or a 17 year cycle.  If this brood stays at 13, thanks to the power of prime numbers, the two broods would only crossover after 225 years.

The cicadas themselves are a bit smaller than our annual green cicadas, and they make a sound like a steady throbbing hum, kind of like a flying saucer in a 50s B movie.

Mxyl not eating a cicada
 They don't bite, sting or eat things, which make them very fun to watch and handle.

And they are being eagerly devoured by wildlife (and some people).

One odd thing is that they love Blue Streak's tires. 

I have to remove all the cicadas before I drive anywhere.  Well, I guess I don't have to, but I do!

 And then there are all those shells!  Perfect for learning to multiply by 6 (each shell has 6 legs).

Also perfect for trolling your cousins by covering their car with shells!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Seven Quick Takes: Bugs, Meatballs, and Graduation

1. With the emergence of the magicicadas (full post on that tomorrow), we have been fascinated with all things cicada, especially their beautiful wings.

I traced Oob on the driveway, then gave him cicada wings!

Then Choclo wanted bird wings.

Easy and fun!  Having older kids, I really relish the chance to do some younger kids' stuff before they also grow out of it. Sniff!
2. I got a new garden for my birthday!

The kids moved 2 cubic yards of compost as I directed them, and my dear FIL had me pick out plants at my favorite gardening center.

It's across the lawn from my "dream garden" which I planted 18 months ago and now looks like this.

4. I made spaghetti in meatballs!

I kind of pranked the Zoomlians with these, but they were so fun!

You just stick uncooked spaghetti through the meatballs, then boil them like you would regular spaghetti (meat balls and all). I used thawed store bought meatballs, but I'm sure you could do them with home made.

And a tip of the hat to Leena, who gave me the idea!
5. The Emperor and I actually left the kids on their own overnight for the first time ever, and they were all alive when we came back! The house was even cleaner than when we left!

The special occasion was a trip to Pittsburgh for the Nebulas to see my dear FIL receive a posthumous award for my dear MIL, the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award.  

I'm the one in blue
While I was there, I got to see my favorite living writer, Mary Robinette Kowal! Her books are like Jane Austen with magic, and magical they are.  Even better, she was one of my MIL's favorite people, and my MIL was clearly one of her favorite people!
Being honored while wearing a suit

6. Klenda joined the Phi Theta Kappa college honor society!

Mxyl joined also, but wasn't interested in going to the ceremony. They are both part of National Collegiate Scholars honor society as well, and he had been to that ceremony while she had skipped it.

So, two college honor societies.  Not bad, I guess we'll have to let her graduate high school. :)

He's in there somewhere
7. And speaking of graduating, Mxyl graduated from the community college last night with an associates degree and a professional certificate! 

He's planning to head to University of Maryland in the fall.

Standing up, gold sash on the left

Where we are, if you graduate from community college, you are automatically accepted into any of the state colleges as a junior. 

If you couple that with the fact that you can start classes when you are 16 (and the tuition is half off for dual enrolled home school high schoolers), community college has been a really nice transition from home school to college for us, while skipping the college admissions drama.

There he is!
The gold sash is his Phi Theta Kappa honor, but he also graduated summa cum laude and I think we were supposed to get an honor cord, but we didn't know to ask for it (we barely remembered to get the sash!). Ah well, the perils of being the first kid.

You know, for kids that never got graded during their 13 years of home schooling, they are doing really well at the college grade thing (as in 4.0), so if you're wondering if you need to grade your home schoolers, you don't.

Hope you had a fun week and an even better weekend!  More takes with Kelly!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Kid's Chemistry

Here's something I haven't been blogging about because I am essentially doing the Kid's Chemistry class that is in the sidebar.  At any rate, I recently completed another round with a fresh group of kids!
 One reason I didn't reblog the whole class was that I have a hard time teaching and remembering to take pictures.

But I wanted something for the portfolio, so here are some pictures from the last class, Acids and Bases.

Here the kids are pH testing a dozen or so household substances.
And here they are with the obligatory baking soda and vinegar volcano.

I was using it too explain the concept of limiting reagents: the volcano reacts until it runs out of it's limiting reagent (in this case acid), but you can add more until it stops reacting to fresh vinegar.  That means  base has become the limiting reagent, so you can add more  baking soda.
They were having such a good time I let them use up the whole gallon of vinegar and a fair amount of baking soda.

Vinegar is cheaper than curiosity!

The whole class is blogged here.