Tuesday, March 28, 2017

It's a Pollen

Somehow we got interested in pollen, probably because a number of us have allergies, and I thought it would be interesting to see under the microscope.

We started with lily pollen, and then daffodil pollen.

We dissected a daffodil to see the pistil , stamen and anthers.  We looked at the anthers to see how the pollen was dispersed.

Then we took a bloomed out daffodil and opened the ovule to look at the unripe seeds. Since the seed coats hadn't formed yet, we could even see tiny embryonic plants within the seeds!

Then we looked at all the other flowers we could find.

Once we pushed back the petals, we could see pistils and stamen on all of them, even the pansies!

We looked at the different pollens as well, but they were all quite similar, even the pollen from the hazel catkin.

I'd like to show them grass, tree and weed pollen as the year rolls around so that they can see why some people tend to be allergic to certain pollens.

It's always fun to spend some time looking under a microscope!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Gospel Dessert: Healing of the Man Born Blind

 This was a tricky one, and we nearly made tapioca (it reminds me of eyes).  Fortunately, we went with the slightly less weird "mud pie." 

Jesus made mud to cure the man's sight.

And we certainly had some wide eyes when Klenda brought out the pie she made!

In other Eating Chocolate During Lent news, at Mass on the Annunciation last Saturday, Father declared that it was a feast day, not Lent, and we should eat all the sweets we wanted to!

Now that's spiritual advice that was easy to swallow!

Providentially, our neighbor had just brought us a box of fancy candy!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Poem of the Week: Brier

Brier: Good Friday

Because, dear Christ, your tender, wounded arm
      Bends back the brier that edges life's long way,
  That no hurt comes to heart, to soul no harm,
    I do not feel the thorns so much to-day.
  Because I never knew your care to tire,
    Your hand to weary guiding me aright,
  Because you walk before and crush the brier,
    It does not pierce my feet so much to-night.
  Because so often you have hearkened to
     My selfish prayers, I ask but one thing now,
 That these harsh hands of mine add not unto
     The crown of thorns upon your bleeding brow.
By EmilyPauline Johnson (Tekahionwake)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Lent: We're Halfway There!

Unfortunately, this makes my kids think of the Bon Jovi song "Living on a Prayer," probably because it goes: "Whooaaaaoooooo, we're half way there, Whooaaaaoooooo, living on a prayer."

The kids are working on a Lenten parody, and they are, well, half way there.

To be clear, I'm not advocating Bon Jovi for Lent.  I grew up in New Jersey in the 1980s (Bon Jovi is from New Jersey), and, not being an ardent fan, I felt stuck in the middle of the Bon Jovi ocean.  By which I mean I was completely surrounded and could see no end to it.

My kids like Bon Jovi.  They also like lima beans though, so it's not an endorsement.

Wait, what was I talking about?  Right, Lent!

The scripture cross is filling out.

The vine and branches are filling in.

The sacrifice bean jar is filling up.

 The Walking with Jesus poster is going along fine.  I kind of ran out of room so it is hanging above the world map in the front hall.  I think I may move it so it's more readily available.

The Gospel Desserts have been great!

We are getting to Mass a little more often.

In fact, at Mass this morning for the Annunciation, Father told us that it was a feast day and we should eat all the sweets we want today.

We take his spiritual advice seriously!

I've been getting more spiritual reading done, and I've been listening to Archbishop Sheen podcasts, but other than that, it feels like most of the things I thought I'd do for Lent have happened only intermittently.

That used to bother me, but it doesn't anymore.  Many of the things I had wanted to do got overturned by things I could see God wanted me to do, and as to the rest, they are an excellent reminder of my own weakness.

I don't think I've ever had (or will have!) a "perfect Lent," and that's probably a good thing for me.  If I did, I'm sure I'd be enormously proud of what I'd done! Have you heard "The operation was a success, but the patient died."?

Now is a good time for me to reflect and try again at my poor and imperfect Lent with my poor and imperfect self!

So, how is your Lent going?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Awesome American History: Ben Franklin, Paul Revere, Western Missions

These were pages 27-37 in The American Story, covering 1752-1776.

Our active activity was "The Minutemen," a game we made up way back when we did our US History megaunit.

In this game, you wait until your kids are least expecting it and then you attempt to startle their socks off by screaming, "The British are coming!"

They then have 60 seconds to grab something that represents their gun, and something that represents their powder (usually something sack-like).  Or you can simplify it and just do the "musket." We had enough kids that I just had them grab a nerf weapon for a gun.

For our art activity, we made butter.  It ended up being more active than artistic (shaking a jar of cream), but I just realized that next week I have 2 art activities, so I guess it all evens out (you can tell how much I stress about these things)!

For our snack, my friend from Boston made Boston Brown Bread, and we ate it with yummy fresh butter~ and yummy it was!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Happy Birthday Leena!

 Leena is 15!

 So, how many birthday cakes can Leena have?

As many as she wants, apparently!

Not that anyone's complaining!

She had a party with extended family the day before her birthday, a party with "just" the 8 of us on the day, and a party with friends later on...

And every party was loads of fun!
15 Great Things About Leena

1. She does great music videos.
2. She's The Gerbil Whisperer.
2. She's super creative.
3. She sings beautifully!
4. She makes great baked beans.
4. She has a thriving You Tube Channel.
5. She does all sorts of voice acting.
5. She's got really eclectic tastes in music.
6. She's a sweet and loving sister.
7. She's always willing to help out anyone.
7. She loves wearing lime green.
8. She draws the cutest gerbils!
9. She does the best Temmie voice from Under Tale.
9. She can swing dance.
10. She's got style!
11. She's got a great Sound Cloud Account.
11. She can have fun with people much older than she is.
12. She can have fun with people much younger than she is.
12. She's great at audio and video editing!
13. She's a sweet and loving daughter.
14. She composes music on the piano and in FL Studio.
15. She tells great jokes!
15. She laughs at my (not so great) jokes!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Gospel Dessert: Woman at the Well

 One of our favorite Gospels and one of our favorite Gospel desserts!

Blue jello in a sort of fountainy shape for the water.
And then we build the well around it with chocolate rice crispy treats!

In the unlikely event that you've never made these, you melt half a stick of butter and a handful of chocolate chips (in a large pot), then stir in a package of marshmallows (small are easiest, but normal size is fine).  When the whole mess is melted, add 8 cups of rice crispy cereal and stir it all together.

You spread it out on foil, and cut it into bricks when cool.

One word of caution, because the bricks touch the jello, you can't assemble this in advance (the jello will make the bricks soggy).

Enjoy! We are almost half way through Lent!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy day indeed!  We love St. Patrick, and our favorite way to celebrate is to cook a big corned beef and cabbage feast for friends and family and the folks at Safe Haven.  By big, we mean 6 cuts of beef, 10 pounds of potatoes, three large cabbages and a bunch of other vegetables.

I think I have finally nailed down the best way to cook that much corned beef!

I rinsed each cut of beef in the big stock pot (half full of water).  Then I put each cut into a roasting pan with a bottle of stout, sprinkled the spice mixture on the meat, sealed it up and put it in the oven at 250 degrees for most of the day (7-8 hours).

Meanwhile, I cut up carrots, onions, celery, garlic and loads of potatoes and cooked them in the broth from rinsing the meat (plus some spices, beef bouillon cubes and a bottle of stout).  This has been going at just under a simmer all day.

About 5 hours in (2 hours before dinner) I flipped the meat and discovered it was pretty well done.  I sliced up the cabbage, put it on top of the meat, sealed it all up again, and turned the heat down to 175.
UPDATE: The cabbage was a little under done, I think next time I'll put it in with the meat in the beginning.

And Klenda made St. Patrick's Day brownies!

Meanwhile, every year we like to watch this:

And this:

And let's not forget the Veggie Tales version!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Awesome American History: Salem, Great Awakening, French Exploration

These were pages 27-37, in The American Story, covering 1692-1743.

Honestly, these were tricky chapters to build activities from.  The Salem Witch Trials I made optional (we have some quite young kids) and an activity of "Let's Make Unfounded Accusations so We Can Take Your Stuff" just didn't seem fun anyway.

So we went with more general activities from the time period.

Our active activity was candle making - super fun!

We used two tall cans, one in simmering water and the other with ice water.

We chopped up the paraffin and put it in the warm can, along with some boiling water.  Yes, the water and wax together!  The wax floats on the water, and means you don't need to fill the entire can with wax (or make very short candles).

We used cotton string for wicks, weighted down with washers/ screws/nuts, etc.

You dip the string (briefly) into the wax, then into the cold water.  The cold sets the wax quickly so that you can dip again immediately.

The key is to make sure no water clings to the candle before you dip again (they turn into water filled blisters), and to do the wax dip quickly - otherwise the wax starts to melt off of the candle!

We let the kids do as many or as few dips as they wanted.

 The candles really were lovely!

The art activity was writing with quills in invisible ink (lemon juice).

Everyone loved this!

After they dried, I heated them over the stove to produce the words and drawings.

Our snack was popcorn - easy and a big hit- I think I made three batches!