Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Let's All Get Wet and Cold!

There was a time when I enjoyed playing outside in snow. That time is no more. I'm more than happy, though, to let the kids live out their childhood snow fantasies, as long as my involvement is limited to preparation, and post-play hot chocolate.

Here they are, almost ready to go out. Mim lacks her coat. Don't worry, Grandma, she did wear one. They are planning to build a snowfort. Mim's job is to gather snowballs, and she has developed a technique which involves using slush from the creek as a hard center. Have I mentioned that I'm glad I'm not outside?

I forgot to have either child make a pit stop before they suited up, so I'm not sure how long they'll be able to make it. What a rookie mistake! You'd think I would know better after almost nine years of parenting. With any luck, they'll be too excited to think about it for a while.

Yesterday they made a tiny little lump of a snowman, then saw that he had magically grown when they woke up this morning. Daddy was the magician. He made this big fella on the remains of its predecessor very early this morning as he left for work. He's the best daddy in the world.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Plagues are People Too?

We studied the Bubonic Plague this week in history. The kids were fascinated, of course, being the blood-thirsty little pirates that they are.

We discussed the symptoms, the devastation in Europe, the fact that entire families and villages were wiped out, you know, all the gory details. I pulled no punches.

So what would you expect to be the reaction to this horrible part of history? Should they perhaps imagine that they were living in that time? Should they pretend to be doctors? Should they think about the consequences of unhygienic practices - or should they, perhaps, start anthropomorphizing the actual bacterium, and develop a relationship with it? If you've read any part of this blog previously, you should know the answer to that.

Here is Black Death watching Zaya write a letter to Grandma Lilibeth, in which he details the things we learned this week. He (the bacterium) occasionally made cute little squeaking noises as he listened to Zaya describe his past behavior.

And here we have Black Death watching Mim color in her map of the progress of the contagion. The bacterium, in his squeaky little voice, said things like, "Ooh! I remember Paris! It was lovely!" and "I remember Rome, I got to go to the Colosseum!"

So...I suppose I bear part of the blame for the fact that they own a plush Black Death bacterium in the first place, but I don't think I can be blamed for all of it, because they wouldn't own it if Zaya hadn't been born with an obsession for microbiology.

 Before having children, I would never have imagined that I would be thinking "That's so cute!" while talking about the world-wide horror that was the Bubonic Plague. Either I'm losing my mind, or I've already lost it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

When I Was...

 This is The Book About Mim- according to Mim, that is. She wanted to write a story for writing class today instead of doing her regular curriculum. I didn't give her any ideas, so this autobiography is her decision entirely.

That is true. No argument from Mama.
 In this drawing she has smeared cake on herself. If we're being historically accurate, it should be Desitin and/or Sharpie markers.
 Quite true, although I would say this applied even more so in previous years.
So several of these things happened over more than a one year period, but I thought it was a fascinating insight into her view of her life, anyway.

How would you sum up years of your life in one short sentence? This might be a fun exercise at any age.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Using Useless Space

Last Saturday we turned Mim's top bunk into a Lego play center. I don't think I should have to tell any parent why we thought this would be a good idea, but I will enumerate the reasons below for those of you who may not be experienced with the blessing and the curse that is Lego.

1. I am tired of stepping on Legos. They cause pain like no other toy...with the possible exception of jacks.

2. Mim's room still has carpet. There are some very, very, very small pieces in those sets. The carpet eats them.

3. My kitchen table should not be a place where I have to push around Lego sets to get anything done.

4. The schoolroom floor should not be a place where I have to push around Lego sets to get anything done.

5. My bedroom should not be a place where I have to push around Lego sets to get anything done.

...ad infinitum...

Her bottom bunk now has two mattresses. Art put a sheet of plywood, to which he affixed a sheet of vinyl flooring, onto the struts of the top bunk.

As long as she doesn't sit up suddenly in the middle of the night, we should be fine.

She currently has a Lego doll house, (garage sale find!) a lego cafe, horse trailer and laboratory (Christmas gifts) and a huge tub of all Daddy's Legos from childhood. Zaya's Star Wars Legos have also been included. It only makes sense, really, since she's the builder, and is easily just as much a Star Wars nerd as he is.

 It's quite a collection, and I'm just picky enough to want to keep them all separate from each other, hence the multitude of tubs.

Will this help her room to look a little less like a FEMA event? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

But Why Would Anyone Do That?

"The potential for misuse is great."

I find myself saying this a lot when Zaya is telling me about his inventions.

For example, his Time Machine: I had to point out the chaos that could be created by people who would go back and re-write history for their own nefarious schemes. He hasn't seen Doctor Who or Back to the Future, so I forgave him for not thinking of these possibilities.

These conversations happen frequently, and I can't even begin to tell you how many different items that he's discussed with me over the years.

He informed me tonight that I will not need to worry about his inventions becoming the next TNT someday, because he has it all figured out.

In his words:

"I will keep all of my inventions in my lab, and they will only be available for me and my helpers to use. That way no one will able to take them and do evil things with them. How will I make my money, I hear you ask? I will sell the inventions that no one could use to hurt other people."

An example of an invention that he might sell is his candy-bar making machine. This machine takes all the ingredients of your favorite candy bar and makes one for you as you wait. He thinks the candy factories themselves might be interested in purchasing this little gem. I didn't have the heart to tell him that the candy bar factories basically consist of gigantic machines in which one puts the ingredients for a candy bar and receives a finished product at the end.

We are having some debate about another invention that he has decided he will release to the open market. It is an "other-dimensionalizer", which is basically a portal that will teleport you to alternate dimensions. He decided that the ability to travel between dimensions will be available to all, and so cannot be used for evil. He has also put on a filter that will stop "bad people" from getting through. I didn't have to heart to explain how "bad people" can look and, even sometimes act, just the same as "good people".

I have been given very specific instructions for how to build this device, but I will not share them with the internet for obvious trademark reasons.

One of the inventions that he will keep hidden in his own lab, and which he has been developing in theory only for several weeks now, is a liquid that, when dropped on any solid substance, will instantly turn it into a liquid. He could not see at first how this could possibly be used as a weapon, so I helped him to understand by one simple question.

"What would happen if you dropped it onto a human?"

"Oh. Right."

He now claims that it would recognize the chemical make-up of flesh and not liquify it. I have my doubts.

You can see, then, why I am very afraid for the future of the world. Nobel and Einstein both could teach him a few things now about releasing your ideas to the world at large. Unfortunately, they're both gone.

Maybe I should just let him watch Doctor Who after all.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Focus on the Goal...or Not

 Zaya likes to look for ways to make his seatwork take longer. Alright, maybe that's not his primary motivation, but that is certainly the result. One of his favorite "let's-drag-this-assignment-out-for-eternity" techniques is to give feudal titles to the separate areas of his sentence diagrams. This can get very complicated when we have prepositional phrases that act as adjective phrases and etc. It is less complicated, but still confusing when there are compound parts. Here is the way he finally resolved the issue. It makes sense...as much as it can anyway, considering the basic premise is to name grammatical structures after societal positions in a specific historical period.

It also leads to funny questions like, "Mom, does the Pope lick?" What he meant to say was, "Mom can the Pope marry?" but he got distracted because he was writing the word lick at the time.
Meanwhile, Mim found a disturbing new pencil holder. I think it takes up more room than it's worth. Oh, and it's very distracting.