Saturday, September 18, 2010

Play Play Play Day

This morning I woke up totally in the mood to sew. Maria and I both have WIPs, and then I stumbled on new sewing inspiration at Angry Chicken, where Amy Karol has a terrific tutorial for making snack bags. I have a love-hate relationship with ziplock bags.

Sew... Maria and I have a couple of projects already started, like our Get Well Quilt, and some embroidery. Maria's flower, and my girl sewing were temporarily lost in the mid-week shuffle, and a whole week passed without any stitching. This morning she and I picked up where we left off, adding more to our little drawings. I love that she still enjoys it, and still knows when to set it down and take a break.

This entire fat quarter stash came from my mom, last Christmas. Thank you Mommy! I kept them intact, happy to look at the colors and patterns, and contemplate the possibilities. I knew they would be great for Amy's snack bags. And Maria was happy to sit with me pulling off stickers, and preparing the fat quarters for a spin in the washer. I wanted to be sure to shrink the fabric before turning them in to handy little ziplock savers.

Washed the fabric, added them to the dryer, cut the rectangles, and made these easy-peasy bags. They close with a fold over flap, and were so easy to make, I already have six.

I can make three bags from one fat quarter. You saw my stash... I can make a lot of bags. I'll need a lot to get me through a week's worth of lunches for four, but I think I will be able to make a few gifts too. Fun.

And while I was stitching, I had the pleasure of listening to William and Maria in the kitchen, doing Science! There were a lot of calls from the kitchen:

"Do we have bottles?"
"Where do we keep the vinegar?"
"Is there any food color?"
"Can we melt these candles?"


William and Maria made several experiments with baking soda and vinegar, one that blasted all the way to the ceiling... outside! And by the time Geoff came home, they were preparing a baking soda and vinegar rocket!

They isolated the baking soda, under a wax seal, and created a trigger with the string... lifting off the wax seal would introduce the vinegar, and the resulting pressure would send the mix through the small hole in the cap.

Who's going to hold rocket, and who is going to pull the cord?

The real aim was to satisfy Maria's appetite for being a scientist, and of course we all enjoyed the fun. A lot of pressure built up in the bottle, and the noise and spray were quite satisfying indeed.

Hey, the day isn't over. What else can we do? What more play?

Friday, September 17, 2010

His Chair Ooh Argghh, Li'l Matey

All right you lily livered land lubbers, check yer main sails, 'cause September 19th be Talk Like A Pirate Day, and we don't want you caught in a stiff wind with no sail!

I have no idea what that means. I am so out of practice. This is embarrassing. Well, if you are like me, and have not practiced proper pirate grammar all year, then it's a good thing I am reminding you to brush up! Sunday is the day, and you don't want to sound ridiculous, like me. I must get a hold of a copy of Pirates of Penzance and apprentice myself to a Pirate King!

Not Ferris, his paws. They are covered in tree sap. Or is it pitch, from climbing the mast of his ship? I wonder what his pirate name is?

I wonder what Your pirate name is... do share.

Curled up in his favorite chair, dreaming of feathered creatures, and tree tops, Ferris rests up for the big day, when we will call All hands on deck!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I Have Nothing Better To Do

When he bolts out the kitchen door, and the children are already at school, I refuse to chase him all over our yard. He is single-minded and slippery, and he hunkers down in the big shrubs, so I know my efforts would be futile.

But, when I hear him crying... crying from somewhere out there, of course I drop everything and search for him.


This sounds familiar...

Refusing my offer to grab him down, Ferris begins to chew the limbs supporting him. He will bite his way down.

Ferris calmly rethinks his first plan.

He gives kitty kisses. Have I mentioned this? He grabs cheeks and nuzzles affectionately. He purrs vigorously. And. He gets stuck in trees. Lucky for him I have nothing better to do than rescue him. I do it for the kisses.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

All The Colors of Kindergarten

Kindergarten has been about Color Days. This week we have black days, then gray days, then it's on to Letters which I don't think is going to be nearly as fascinating for Maria as Color Days.

"This is PINK day.
I love pink.
And purple, red, orange, and brown, and green, and blue, and I love all the colors."

She really has been loving all of the colors.

I wonder if loving school has anything to do with the focus on what to wear?

She is making friends, and taking initiative. She is learning new games, and yoga.

The other day, I may have been a weensy bit stressy, she came up to me and said: "Now close your eyes, and breath in. Hold it. And let go."

It transformed me.

Initiative? She has been asking about hot lunch since August. She wants in on the hot lunch. It must seem very glamorous, very exotic. Every other day she has some alluring tid-bit about the merits of hot lunch. And basically my job has been to evade her pointed inquiries, and heartfelt pleas. My brain has been too saturated to figure out the hot lunch system, and I am far, far less enchanted by the fast-food catering lunch program anyway.

Monday when I met her at the pick-up gate, she took my hand reassuringly and said: "I asked teacher about hot lunch, and I know how to do it. Let's go to the office."

She's paid up for ten hot lunches. I asked her: "You're going to make healthy choices, right?"

She said, sincerely: "Yes." And with five year old glee she declared: "I am getting the chocolate milk!!"

Also: She is opening a restaurant. She wants to be a dancer, a firefighter, a doctor, a teacher, and a chef. She already designs robots. And she tells everyone that she is a farmer... she is so happy to finally have her very own boots. "Farmers need boots, and you and me are farmers, right momma?"

Yes, we are. We are colorful farmers, in boots.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Poor-poor kitty.
Can you find Ferris?
He's the sad kitty meowing in the high branches of the tall, tall pine tree.
Poor-poor kitty. Popoki.

Ferris is not supposed to get outside, which is probably what makes it such a huge temptation for him. It's just that he's such a little guy, and the coyotes, and big dogs, are plentiful in these parts. Well, yesterday he learned for himself that his ambitions do not match his abilities.

And the meowing? The crying... it was so sad and pitiful.
He really was up a tree, out on a limb, stuck.

Naturally, being good, typical helicopter parents, we could not leave him there to grow, and get hungry, and somehow stumble on a way to get himself down. This called for all of us to stand under the tree, and call to him sympathetically. Max held his arms up, willing to catch Ferris if he should fall.

The tree is roughly sixty feet tall, and Ferris was at least twenty feet up. Max wanted to climb up to him, but it is a very sappy tree, without low branches.


He was breaking our hearts.
So, out came the ladder, and up went Max...

Max scooped up his "very scared kitty" and brought him down to safety.
Don't you love happy endings?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Good morning!
Geoff: "There might be a few things on the dining table, but don't worry about it. I'll have it all cleared off."

Natalie, going downstairs to greet the brand new day: "Uh. Yeah. Okay."
Because by now, I am actually used to this sort of thing.

Contest #1: Identify the big one.

So, I vaguely alluded to a new mania take over the Bird House and its Geekier residents. And today I am prepared to share a few more clues, or details. I am not trying to be obtuse, it's just that I am not the best one to explain these matters.

What I can do is show you the sort of obstacles treasures I discover as I go about my day...

When I saw the kitchen, I had a bit of fit about the mess. Not the tools and parts on the table, but the food messes left out from the night before, so I told the boys to get busy, and I went to my car, thinking I would run away from home.

I need a new plan.
the way...
what the...?

So, I may not be the Geekiest resident, but I have been around enough metal shops and robotics builds to know I am looking at extruded aluminum. Just the stuff to build a strong, and light(er) weight robot chassis. Tell me you're impressed. Please.

Okay. Who's ready?
Contest #2: What is that hunking thing on the left?

Natalie, pointing to photo: "Geoff, what is this?"
Geoff: "That is a fiber optic cable spooler."
Natalie: "And why do we have one?"
Geoff, breathlessly: "'Cause it's cool.

So, I cannot run away from home, which really is okay with me, because it means I have an excuse to not shop for fancy clothes. (Malls, boutiques, three-way mirrors, fashion... these are the enemies of my peace of mind, dignity, and self-worth.)

So, Geoff, William, and Alex are building a workshop. They are gathering parts, bits, tools, and cool stuff. They have been highly successful at finding used things... cleaning them up, making repairs, and getting the cool stuff working again. They did this to a table top CNC mill. The objective is to get all the supplies and equipment necessary for building stuff. Like, making stuff. Like, robots, parts, fittings, art, sculpture, SteamPunk, woodworking... cool stuff.

Contest #3: Do you know what this is, and what it could be used for?

We are keeping a lot of these great finds for our workshop, for Maker Faire, for fun, and we are donating a lot to the high school metal shop. I may not know what some of this stuff is, or be able to explain how all of this is going to come to together, but I know one thing for sure: Geoff has good ideas, and an incredible drive... he makes things happen, and I never doubt that it will be cool. Really, totally cool.