Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday is another name for Mardi Gras. We used to celebrate Mardi Gras much more when we lived in Louisiana. This year, I'm sad to say, I didn't even break out any beads. I have one nice 3 color strand I like to wear for Mardi Gras, but its still in the closet somewhere. We did, however, make it to church to have our pancake supper. Pancakes, blueberry pancakes, sausage and grits. I'd never had grits as part of Shrove Tuesday before our current priest, but he thinks they are needed, so therefore we have grits, and cheese grits. D went down early to help cook. I had a picture, but the other computer is being uncooperative, so maybe you'll get it later, maybe not - its not that exciting. Well, here is D cooking.

We had to do a car dance tonight to keep from taking 3 cars to the church. My mom left her car about 2 miles from home and we picked her up there and took her to church, getting there just before 6. Then the kids and I had to leave around 6:30 to dash up to Scouts. D brought my mom back to her car a bit after 7 and then he had to go to a homeowners association meeting. He went to avoid becoming president, but ended up becoming vice-president. Meanwhile, I don't know what M did tonight in Scouts, but A and the other Tigers painted treasure chests for our Scout Blue and Gold banquet. The theme this year is Bluebeard the Pirate and his Treasure of Gold. We also spraypainted some pennies and some rocks gold for treasure.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Back home safe and sound

D, A, and I headed out to the airport after school today to pick up M and my mom. Their plane was early, so they were waiting by the empty baggage carousel. It was good to see them again. M was very tired and kept saying "my feet hurt, my feet hurt,...". Evidently he never did get onto London time very well. He was staying up til 11 or 12 and then sleeping in til 9, 10 or later. Here he rarely sleeps past 7, even on vacation.

M says his favorite thing was the Natural History museum where they had an earthquake room, which periodically shook like an earthquake was occurring. They also had cool dinosaurs there.

We went out to dinner on our way home from the airport and M was sound asleep by the time we got home - at about 7pm. He is really too big to be carried - D got him out of the car and up the stairs, but there is no way to get him into a top bunk! M did wake long enough to get into bed, get into pjs and request a cat - P of course.

I'll see about downloading the pictures from his camera tomorrow and hope to post a few.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Collecting for the Food Bank

This afternoon, A and I finally got the chance to go collect door-to-door for the Food Bank. It was a brisk day, but sunny and A & I had a nice walk. He collected 32 cans/jars/boxes of food in about an hour. His goal had been 30, so he felt good about it.
I wondered about the many people who asked what kind of food we wanted....umm, anything non-perishable will work. I got asked, is soup ok or canned vegetables. We've been donating through Scouts for almost 4 years now, so I guess its obvious to me - anything in my pantry would work. Though they probably would prefer the normal stuff, not like the Indian veggies we had for dinner tonight.
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Saturday, February 25, 2006


I'm really glad that the Olympics and our week of break have coincided. Otherwise I'd have missed a lot of the interesting results or been tired the next day (or most likely both). It's been nice to be able to watch til 11:30 and then sleep til 8am. Only one more day of sleeping in, but its been nice while it lasted.

I've really enjoyed the short-track and speedskating. I don't remember seeing much of the snowboarding in the past, but it was very interesting, especially the snowboardcross (is that really all one word?). I was hoping to see some curling, just because it seems to odd, but it all seemed to be on the cable channels this year.

Comfort Food & New Math

Today was a yucky rainy day - it never really rained hard, just a constant dribble to mild rain and about 45 degrees. We thought about going out to dinner, but none of us wanted to go out in the drizzle. I did end up going to the grocery store to get some nice bread to go with our vegetable soup. Then I made a blackberry cobbler (needed to use those blackberries we picked in summer 2004) for dessert. It was delicious! It was hard to not have seconds or thirds - that spoonful stuck on the spoon doesn't count, right?

While I was at the store, I ran into a friend (one of M's friend's mom) and we were discussing schools and what the kids are learning currently in 4th grade. She showed me a different method of multiplying called lattice multiplication . It looks very interesting. I may show it to M and see if he likes it any better than normal multiplication - of course if he does, I'll need to alert his teacher about the method so she realizes what he's doing.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Working on 2 Wheels

A worked on his 2-wheeler skills this afternoon. He's not quite there yet, but he had a couple of good runs down the front yard. He's definitely grown since last fall when we last worked on biking - the seat could stand being raised some and he's outgrown his helmet. So, for today, he borrowed M's helmet. D and I took turns steadying him as he came down the gentle grassy slope of the front yard. He had 2 really good runs. He was discouraged at first, but after a good run, he thought he had it. Well.... he needs a bit more practice still, but if good weather holds, hopefully he'll have it down soon.
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Ravens at the Tower of London

I guess M and my mom didn't see the ravens at the Tower of London. I heard a news report that the keeper has taken the ravens inside because of threats of bird flu. There's a legend that the British monarchy will fall if the ravens ever leave the tower.


Since it was so nice outside, I thought I would finally prune the butterfly bush. It started leafing out last month, but each time I've thought about it since then has been dark or rainy. But today it finally got pruned.

And D took down a tree that was half-dead. It wasn't too big, but it was quite close to another tree, so it was interesting getting it down. It kept getting stuck in the other tree. D cut it, we pulled it down the slope some - until it got stuck, then he cut it again and we pulled again. Then a third time was the charm - well, that and some manuvering up and over (a fork of tree1 was caught in a fork in tree2). The cats were quite interested in the whole process. Here is S inspecting the stump. Moments before he was posing like a statue on a pedestal.

The yard is blooming

I took a walk around the yard this afternoon and was surprised by how much is blooming. I knew a few daffodils were blooming, but I hadn't realized how many are.

And the dwarf iris are looking lovely - though they hide well, so I don't always realize when they are blooming.

Here's a new plant we got last spring (actually 2 of them, but this one is bigger and has more blooms). It really looks pretty, especially as it gets bigger.

And, lastly, here's the rosemary blooming. We have 2 in the front yard near the mailbox - this one blooms are purple and the other one is more blue. So, I suppose they are slightly different species.

Plant Identification?

We have this lovely plant in the backyard - it blooms early every year (one year it was in bloom when we had a rare snowfall). But we have NO IDEA what kind of plant it is. If anyone knows or has a reasonable guess, I'd love to know.

And here is a close-up of a flower.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A's cats

Yesterday, I was working on my sewing project, which reminded A that he still had work to do on his. So, he finished sewing around the edge (he still needs to handstitch the opening where he turned it right side out), and he did one bit of machine quilting (between the inner and outer borders). He's not so entranced with the idea of any hand sewing - though he did sew the button eyes and noses on by hand.
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Spending Birthday Money

A got some money and a Target gift card for his birthday and today we finally headed off to Target to shop. With money from my aunt, he got some new Magnetix and here he has built a triangle tower.

Then with his gift card from a friend, he got a Pinpression. He has had lots of fun making impressions of his face or hand, like this:

Good eating

While M's been gone, I told him we were going to eat lots of stuff he doesn't like - and we have. Monday night we had crusty rolls with beef marinated in chili beer. Tuesday we had Afgani lamb stew with spinach (yummmmm) and naan. And last night we had vegetable soup (with the rest of it planned for lunches). A has liked all of it, though he thought the lamb was too spicy - I guess I need to tone it down for him when we have it again Friday night.

I love it when D cooks as he doesn't get in the same ruts I do. Since he doesn't cook often, he's more likely to come up with interesting new things. Plus, I enjoy not having to plan and execute the meal.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Safely Arrived

M and my mom arrived safely in London. I hear that they had a good afternoon in the British museum, looking at Asserian, Egyptian, and Greek exhibits. M got a photo of the Rosetta Stone as well. And M was quite happy that they found a nice British pizza place for dinner.

Monday, February 20, 2006

On Their Way!

M and my mom on their way to London! This is the entrance to the security line, thus where the rest of us had to say good-bye.
It took M a while to get excited, but he's pretty excited here. They're going to be staying with my mom's cousin. I can't wait to hear all about the trip. Posted by Picasa

M's last evening at home

Here's M getting plenty of cuddles with P, his favorite sleeping companion. He has to make up for 7 nights of no warm cat in bed.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

A goes Scouting for Food

Here's A in his Tiger Cub uniform, just come back from Scouting for Food yesterday. We didn't end up going door-to-door because it was raining and very cold out.
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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Oops - Scouting for Food is TODAY

Got a phone call this morning, 10:18 am, saying where are you. It took me a minute to realize that today is Scouting for Food. The kids were supposed to be at the grocery store at 10:00 am to ask people to buy extra food for the food bank. So, we dashed them into Scout uniforms and D hustled them off to the store. They both grumbled a bit because their program wasn't quite over, but off they went - fortified with a banana in hand. A says he wants to go door to door collecting for the food bank too, so we may do that this afternoon - we'll see.
This gave me a quiet time without having to push anyone off the computer, and thus a time to catch up my blog - blame the Olympics, I've been watching them every night this week and not blogging much.

A's new Lego creation

Here's A with his new Lego creation - the Exoforce Sonic Phantom- that he's almost done with. It was a birthday present from some friends and he's been happily putting it together. I was impressed that he has done it almost all by himself (the box says 7-14 and he just turned 7). I had to remove one piece where he had put it in the wrong place (the picture wasn't clear to him on where it went) and I helped him look for maybe 2 pieces, but otherwise he did it himself.

A wanted me to take a closeup of the Legos as well, so here it is:

Pretty impressive, huh.

A bit of Spring?

What do you call Spring weather in Feb?? Indian Spring? Maybe the groundhog was right (in predicting an early Spring), though his prognostication was followed by the coldest week all winter. But Thursday was definitely springlike - see the door open - it was 72 outside (according to my thermometer). Whatever the actual temp was, it was warmer outside than in, so we let the outdoors in.

These are my amazing dwarf snapdragons. I planted them in October 2003! Now, I planted many more of them then, but they were only supposed to bloom in fall 03 and spring 04, but most of them made it to fall 04 (and all those made it to spring 05) and then these few made it to fall 05 and now spring 06. The hot weather here is supposed to be too much for them, but in the island in the front yard is evidently shady enough in summer. So, here they are about to bloom again. Amazing!

And these are my beautiful primrose that D gave me last spring (birthday, mothers day, ? - can't remember exactly which occasion). They were beautiful then and 2 (out of 4) are blooming again now. I think one more is still living in a big pot at the end of the driveway.

Evidently I do well with plants outdoors - but not so well indoors. I like plants that thrive on neglect. Inside I currently have one aloe that I forget to water for weeks (months?) on end and yet still lives. I'm also nursing along 2 little basil plants on the windowsill in the kitchen - they're living, but not very happily. I will put them outside as soon as the weather reliably permits.

Paper Piecing

Wednesday, I had a workshop on paper piecing (a way of putting together a quilt square). I'd never done it before and wanted to learn the technique. Well, it's not very intuitive, as you sew on a piece of paper with your fabric behind the paper - the paper is below on the left. On the right is how it looks with 4 of the 8 pieces attached.

Now, this is how it looks when I have done 2 triangles and then sewn them together (ie 1/4 of a block). It looks pretty nice, if I do say so myself.

It was hard to figure out at first, but once I got the idea, its not so hard, just a bit finicky. But, it does give me much nicer points than I usually get...

Book Report time

M had to do a book report on a biography and he chose Roberto Clemente. He was also supposed to dress up like his character. As M says, "I'm never going to look like Roberto Clemente". Ummm, yes that's true - wrong color and all. So, we did the best we could. We had some baseball pants (a friend was trying to sell them at our yard sale), long white socks, a mock turtleneck under a baseball jersey (ok, so it was a Braves jersey, but at least it was a real looking baseball jersey). I decided I didn't care if the teacher took off points for not trying to make it into a Pirates jersey, but M came home with an 100, so I guess that was good enough. I hate these dress up like a character type things, though, as it makes it MY job to work on a book report - where I want it to be the kids job to do as much as possible. Anywho...here's the poster he did - looks pretty nice. That's a timeline of his life at the bottom.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

A made several very nice valentines for us - 2 in class and 1 in art (plus 1 at church for my mom). Seemingly by 4th grade, they don't make valentine's at school anymore, though, so none from M. Though M made his valentines bag at school. A did manage to make a new valentines box yesterday and it came home full of valentines today, as did M's bag.

D got me some quite interesting chocolates from Graffiti Zoo. So far, I've only tried the Chilean Fire Ants - they're quite interesting - cinnamon white chocolate with a hot chili bite. They do have a bit of a chili bite, but it really does work nicely with the white chocolate. D says he got to try several others when he bought them - I'm looking forward to trying various of them over the next few days. Yummmm!

S's Birthday

Yes, Mr. S had a birthday today. This sort of sums up how he feels about it, though...

When we adopted him, they had named him Valentino after his Valentine's Day Birthday. He's no Valentino! Well, he is cute and cuddly and likes to snuggle with us though. He is a very satisfactory cat - thoroughly enjoyable. He was quite happy to get a new crinkly ball for a present tonight.

For a view of how much he's grown - here's a picture shortly after we got him (he was probably 3 months old here). Awww - he was so little

Monday, February 13, 2006


Yesterday, we got some few snow flurries - you could see them in the air, but they weren't going to stick. M said the thermometer must be broken as it said 42 degrees, so how could it be snowing. A discussion ensued about upper atmosphere temperatures, etc.

The kids got all excited about news that it might flurry again overnight. Well, it did - see...


But obviously, not much. There is a little bit of snow on elevated surfaces, esp like these chairs. There's even some on the deck, but none on the ground. Unfortunately, there's no more chances in the forecast, it seems either. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 12, 2006

cat destruction

Must remember that they are still kittens.... though for S, not for long - he will be one on Valentine's day and officially no longer a kitten (then I can buy them cat chow, not kitten chow, thus more choices in food). Anyway, tonight, they decided to de-construct A's Valentine box. It may have been a bit spare in the decorations, but it was DONE and ready to go to school tomorrow (when the teacher had requested it). Instead, tonight I got to cover a different Kleenex box with red construction paper, so that A can decorate it tomorrow (and write his teacher a note, so she won't think I forgot to send it in when due). Arrrgh. The cats had not paid a bit of attention to it in the past few days, so it didn't occur to me that it might not be safe. The new one is safely closed up in a cabinet for the night!

French dinner

The youth group at church put on a French dinner Sat night as a fundraiser. We all went and had a nice time. They had kid fare and a movie (Scooby Doo - M was very happy it wasn't a religious movie) for the kids downstairs. D and I had a fun evening with 2 other couples. We gave our teen waiter (one couples' son) a hard time (but all in good fun) - reminding him to serve the ladies first, give all options before asking us to choose, etc. He had an interesting time trying to describe Bananas Foster to the group. This dinner was a big improvement on the fund-raiser Valentine's dinner they did 2 years ago, where we ended up eating mac-n-cheese with toothpicks or a knife (long story).

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Derby Day!

Derby day dawned bright and early (too early for the adults here!). We had to be at the church at 8 am to check in A's car. D had some final weight adjustments to do. A's car was just slightly light (0.1 oz), so he wanted to glue a penny on top. M's car was 0.25 oz light (you want the car as close to the legal 5.00 oz as possible for fastest racing), so D had to borrow a weight off another dad. We think the scale had been reading light Friday night, as the car read heavier then. Here's A with his car after the race. He came in 2nd in the Tigers - his buddy who won, also beat every other car in the whole pack, so A feels pretty good. Plus, he's happy he's going to district (top 3 cars in each den go on to district - not too tough for A this year, as only 3 Tigers showed up with cars). Yeah for him (another early morning for us).

M's car also did quite well - he took 1st place in Webelos I's, and then 4th place in the whole pack (only the top 3 places get their names on the plaque of honor on the track, though). So, he, too gets to go to district. Here's M and his car - I realize it isn't a very good photo of him, but he wasn't being very cooperative. He's also covering up the sun he painted on the side of the car.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Final finishing touches for Pinewood Derby

Today was the final day to finish up pinewood derby cars. This is the first year that both kids get to race officially (though D helped A build a car to race unofficially last year). So, after dinner, D put weights, wheels and axles on the cars. He made an unfortunate discovery, though - it seems that Super Glue doesn't glue well to Rustoleum paint (which M had used to paint his car) - so he had to tack the weights on. Here are the 2 cars on the track. A's is orange, M's is blue.

It was evidently a very busy, exciting day for A, as you can see here:

He was fine at the race, but curled up in the chair after we got home. I thought he was curled up playing his gameboy, but I guess sleep overtook him. zzzzz

Field Trip Pictures

Here we are getting ready to go on the field trip. These are all the moms (and grandmas) who volunteered to chaperone our group of 1st and 2nd graders, along with their respective kid. For some reason A wanted to hang on me.

A had a great time when he got to meet Arthur. We saw a little play about Arthur and DW, then the kids had a great time running around exploring the museum while I got to try to keep an eye on 3 7 yo boys. Not so easy. Sorry that the photo is on its side, but another mom sent it to me (and so its on a different computer where I don't know how to edit the photo - and I'm too lazy to email it to another account and fiddle with it there).

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Make-it, Take-it

The kids school had a make-it, take-it workshop Tuesday night. I'm thinking it will be 'make a craft with your kid' - sounds nice enough and A really wanted to do it (his teacher was talking it up, I'm guessing). So, I told my Scout co-leader that we wouldn't be there and we went. Well...turns out it was really just for parents (though luckily they had a movie in the library for the kids), and it was to make/learn about ways to help your child with math and reading. Not exactly what I had in mind, nor what the kids really need, but we were there, supporting the kids. There were maybe 20 parents in the 1st grade classroom (out of almost 100 1st graders) and from which parents I knew, I would guess that many of them were parents of kids who didn't need much help.

We got instructions on how to help A tell his coins apart and to learn what you can change 5 pennies for. Ummm.... he's a bit beyond that - yesterday I gave him a handful of money and asked him to make various amounts for me, sometimes restricting certain coins (ie make 37 cents, then do it without quarters, then how few coins can you make it in and how many). He does great. He could be a bit faster when we're at the store... but maybe that's just my parental anxiety over not wanting to annoy customers behind us (they don't usually look like they mind and some even comment on how nice it is to see him handling his own money).

Meanwhile D was in the 4th grade group - where they didn't make anything, just talked about AR tests and how the Social Studies book is seemingly written on an 8th grade level (D says one teacher said she taught middle school SS out of this same book).

Monday, February 06, 2006

DaVinci's Challenge

We got A a new game for his birthday - DaVinci's Challenge. It said 2-4 players, ages 8 and up. Fine, we thought. And it got an award from a toy rating that I tend to agree with. Well, we went to play it and discovered that it really isn't a good 4 person game, as then it is in 2 teams. And you can't really discuss strategy with your partner because then the other person will know what design you are trying to make.


Click on the picture and you can see it bigger.

You'll see some flowers (6 oblongs radiating out from a point) and circles (6 oblongs making a circle) and triangles, empty and filled (there are 9 different shapes that score - I didn't even realize one of them until most of the way through the game). Each specific shape earns a certain number of points. The idea is to make as many shapes of high value as you can, while blocking your opponent. You have to claim the shapes in the turn you make them - and it is VERY easy to miss noticing that you have made some shapes (I saw several times, that while I was concentrating on one shape, I had also made 1 or 2 others (which I had forgotten to score)). We all got better as we played, but the kids just weren't seeing the shapes as well - what they made or what I was going for. I think we need to play a bit more cooperatively at first - everyone helping each other with scoring of shapes, or scoring shapes at the end. It is an interesting game and it makes lovely designs, but the scoring is a bit tedious (and frustrating when you realize you forgot to score a medium amount of points). A mostly watched as M and I played. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Quiet day

We had a rather quiet day today, which was good. M was sick earlier in the week - and is still on an antibiotic much to his disgust - "but I feel better, I'm not coughing anymore. A is coughing - he should have to take medicines." So, we had to have the discussion on why it is important for public health for him to finish the prescription. Maybe next time I need to see if I can get a Rx for less than 10 days... As noted, A is now coughing, and has a runny nose - but seems otherwise fine. D came home yesterday with a sore throat from drainage and has been drinking lots of hot tea today. So, a quiet day with nothing planned was a very good thing.

D did help M with his pinewood derby car, though. They put the first coat of paint on (each coat will take a while as M chose a Rustoleum paint that takes forever to dry). They also worked on polishing the axles for the car - this is the first year we've tried this (I shouldn't say we, as I view this as a father/son event. I occasionally help with painting or buying supplies, but otherwise, I try to keep out). Tomorrow should bring another coat for M's car and a first coat for A's. The derby is next Sat.

A and I also worked on his cat wall hanging. We started this back in December, but it took a hiatus over Christmas. Today seemed like the perfect time to work on it while M and D were out buying paint for the pinewood derby car. He got the rest of the border put on and then we sandwiched the quilt and got maybe 1/3 of the perimeter sewn before his friend came over to play. Hopefully we'll get a chance to sew the rest and turn it right side out tomorrow - then I can get a photo. It's cute - stylized versions of our 2 cats.

Sudoku again

I took 2 Sudoku puzzles in to M's small group yesterday (Friday) to work on after I finished reviewing area and perimeter with them. This time I made sure that I did them first, so I could check and correct the kids as they were working on them. Good thing! The 9x9 was supposed to be easy, but after working it, I knew it would be way too much for them, so I fiddled with it and added about 6 more numbers. Well, while I was working on this one, A came in and wanted to see what I was doing. So, I gave him the 6x6 I had for the 4th graders. I had to give him a couple of hints, but he did great on it. I was rather surprised, therefore, on Fri when several of M's classmates had a lot of trouble with the 6x6. I had to have them erase it several times, but in the end, I think they all finished that one. M and one girl finished their 9x9 and a few others were going well. I promised them I would bring in more for them next week - though I told them it would be for on their own - I'll bring something else for class time.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

M's new glasses

M has been anxiously awaiting his new glasses, asking me "when are they going to be done?" So, finally they called and we went Wed afternoon to pick them up. I told M he could have 2 peppermints if he'd let me take a nice picture of him in his glasses, so this is the photo I got...

Not so great, so then it became a game as I tried to get a photo and he tried to evade me. Posted by Picasa

But I finally got one where you can at least see the glasses on his face. The case looks blurry here because he was trying (and not succeeding) to cover his face.

comparison of old and new glasses

Here's a side by side comparison of the the old and new glasses - the new ones are the lower pair (I'm pretty sure). The new ones have a more prominent nose bridge, but they are very similar, as you can see.

I can't figure out how to rotate pictures when I post from blogger, hence I have to post separate entries to get all these glasses pictures. Hopefully I can figure it out soon (or just remind myself to take all pictures in landscape mode). Posted by Picasa

M at pack meeting

Here's M and 3 of his fellow Webelos I's (that just looks strange). M received his Engineer and Fitness pins here. I really need to get M a khaki shirt like his friend is wearing. Either blue or khaki is regulation, but since they are allowed to wear khaki for the first time this year, they tend to want to. I was going to buy M a new shirt over the summer, when we got A his shirt (A needed a smaller size than M's current shirt), but M was not interested right then - and we just haven't gotten around to it since.