Friday, March 08, 2013


Team photo for the 2008-2009 robotics season.

FIRST 2102 Team Paradox spirit and engineering hooked me from the start.

Right now, live! the San Diego FRC: FIRST Regional Competition is happening in the sports arena (Valley View Center: 3500 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego) Go! If you have time today, or tomorrow, GO! It's free, it's wild, it's a shout out to the future, today. High school students are designing and building competitive robots, and if you want to dance and cheer for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Music, and Math, then GO! You will not be disappointed.

FIRST: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

This is an international event, but I am partial to our San Diego teams, especially those Paradox kids... they're Red on the bottom, Yellow on top and full STEAMM ahead Paradox all over!

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Thank You, Grant!

7:00 am. We prepare paper frosty to be "amazing."

Dear Grant,
We are writing to thank you for the amazing snowman gift you gave us for Christmas. This morning we gathered around, broke into his blister pack home, and following the Toysmith directions we got frosty ready to grow before our eyes!

Why did we wait so long!?
We just don't know.
But. Well. Sometimes it's actually cool to spread out your fun, so that on a Wednesday morning in March, you can rediscover some holiday magic.

7:15 am. Geoff pours in the secret sauce, a.k.a: monobasic potassium phosphate.

This part was suspenseful, because the package warns: "In the event of eye contact rinse with water," which sounds kind of sciency and b'ass. We were super careful not to get any monobasic potassium phosphate on our pancakes.

8:30 am. Frosty's broom is icing up!

Normally, for the sake of science, we will keep the children out of school, but we're saving those special days for Maker Faire! So, while the children were at school, Geoff and I kept track of Frosty's progress. The package says "Grows in 24 hours," so we were stoked to already see the capillary effect... monobasic potassium phosphate ascending the straw in the broomstick and up Frosty's spine.

3:00 pm and Frosty is fluffed!

This is what Frosty looked like when we brought Maria home from school! Holy snowdrifts, Frosty!

Grant, this is so cool! His dapper hat reminds us of you in your top hat.

Maria and I touched the snow, even though monobasic potassium phosphate might be nasty business. Dude, what if we wake up with frosty growth on our extremities? Okay, so I'm glad we decided to wash our hands. It felt slightly damp, cool, and soft.

We can see why it would spread to the paper parts, but check out how it's spread around his head, which is hard plastic. He's got a snow collar. That stuff has such cool looking properties, almost like real snow crystals.

5:00 pm and everyone is home to witness the amazingness that is Frosty!

Well, Grant, we love our gift. It did not disappoint.

We hope you are having a great year at Santa Cruz. If you aren't out by May 18th, shall we swing by, and break you out, for the sake of science, making, tinkering, playing, and family fun? Just say the word!


your Love & Rockets ~ Art & Engineering family

Monopotassium phosphate
Monopotassium phosphate -- KH2PO4 -- is a soluble salt which is used as a fertilizer, a food additive and a fungicide. It is a source of phosphorus and potassium. It is also a buffering agent. Wikipedia
Formula: KH2PO4
Molar mass: 136.086 g/mol
Density: 2.34 g/cm³
Boiling point: 752°F (400°C)
Melting point: 486.7°F (252.6°C)
Soluble in: Water

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Farm Fresh

I sort of pride myself on not buying every art chicken, farm sign, and enamelware piece I find. Even when I like them extra much. People know I love chickens. And goats. And bunnies. Do they know about galvanized steel? Yeah, I have a thing for that, too. I thought this Farm Fresh sign was lovely, but I left it in my favorite Julian shop, American Gardener... oh! swoon! They have a website! We stopped in to inhale the lovely potpourris, and French milled soaps, after our frolic in the snowy woods.

Our own chicas are springing into the warmer, longer days. And we have begun clearing, measuring, and preparing for our chicken and goat run. Geoff and I read the latest HenCam post together, and now we feel doubly confident about our design choices. Thank you, Terry! By summer our own little farm will have a safe place for running, scratching, dusting, laying, leaping, and playing. Added bonus: No more hens on the porch, making it a poop deck with their *ahem* "chicken blogs." With all of this complete, maybe we can see about adding a few wee chicks to the flock! Big fat hens, that's what Geoff is looking for. I can buy that!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013


Maria, Alex, Max, Natalie, William

William was born in winter, then Alex arrived late in spring. Max is our summer baby, and Maria takes autumn. Four children, one for each season. I have always loved the poetry in that... if it is poetry, or coincidence, or happenstance, or cosmic grooviness... it makes me happy. They make me happy.

And I have something so cliche to say, that it is a cliche in itself just to reflect on it: It all goes really fast! Seriously. I was warned, and I respectfully listened to aunts, and supermarket strangers who wistfully pronounced, "The time will go by, and they'll grow up before you know it." I did understand, and it did give me pause. Of course there are those long nights, up with a sick child, or early mornings scrambling to get everything packed and everyone in place... and those moments feel everlasting. But mostly, I have lived gratefully and happily in the moment, and feeling a gladness that has been the greatest joy of my life. And with the joy, astonishment, a bit of worry, too, because it is going too fast.

Monday, March 04, 2013

To The Snow!

I am calling this our After School Special, the day we dashed up to our local mountains in hopes of finding snow. More snow than we played in on our Groundhog Day adventure. In less than two hours we can easily find ourselves in pine and oak tree mountains, where apple orchards and manzanita are in abundance. And, this time, snow, too!

Naturally, we were extremely well prepared for snow when we packed for our Groundhog Day snow quest. We had good gloves, and heavier coats, even a picnic lunch, so of course it was almost too warm. This time we set out with slightly less optimism, and far fewer warm layers. I cannot say what are excuse was, since we could see the snow on the mountains from our backyard! But, it takes surprisingly little to convince us we'll be "fine," even as we are grossly underestimating cold!

The drive alone was worthwhile. We saw deer, and wild turkeys, and quaint snowy fields, snowcapped trees, and cozy mountain cabins. We oohed and sighed at every turn in the road. Since so many scenic spots were off-limits, fenced, and signed against trespass, we continued down the road till we came to a county park.

With grocery bag insulation on her feet, Maria hit the snow with unsuppressed abandon. "I know I've been in the snow before, but really, this feels like my first time. It's wonderful!" Maria is right...after five years, it does feel like the first time, when you're only eight years old. And for the coat and snow pants I bought for her four winters ago, this may be the last time.

This recalls a snowy day, long ago, when Geoff and I were in Wisconsin and we rolled up Grandma Nancy's back yard! The snowball was so big we scooped a tunnel through it, and I stood inside of it. Gabe was there, too. I never forgot how amazing it was that snow could roll up like a pie dough. I am so glad our children could finally play in snow like that.

They had to take care not to stand in front of it, or to let it get away. Even light and fluffy snow gets heavy, when packed this big.

And of course it was cold. Really, really chilling cold.

I don't know what we'd do, how we would react, to an entire winter of snow, but for two hours we were loving it.

The manzanitas were blooming. Even the plants are unsure of how to face winter, and sometimes jump into spring early.

I loved the snow-topped tree stumps. They looked like forest cupcakes. And the oak trees, like this, covered in all the moss and lichen green, then frosted in white and sparking snow... it was all so lovely.

With found implements, and ingenuity, Alex carved up the giant snowball. Max and Maria continued trekking up and down the slope with the boogie-board-sled. And we were all thoroughly delighted with our good luck... finding actual snow, and enjoying the activities, when something completely unexpected started...

New snow falling!
What a treat! Nothing about this in the weather forecast.

So, we sled, and threw snowballs, and made angels, started the walls of a fort, made a giant snowball...

We were in the midst of global-snow joy!

Even playing toss and catch with well packed snow balls. Only a cabin to spend the night in could have made the day any better. Next time.

Acrylic knit gloves, tennis shoes, too small snow clothes... yeah, we were ill-prepared, and our fun was not going to last once the cold took hold.

Poor Maria. Muddy, wet, worn out, and coming face to face with the burning sensation of being much too cold. She was stunned, and then extremely sad. Luckily we did think to pack comfy blankets, and by the time we got to town, and the promise of a hot dinner, everyone was warm and cheerful, again.

Turkeys in the snow. And no boots or mittens in sight!

They don't seem to mind the snow and cold one bit. They just gobble it up!