Saturday, December 29, 2018

C finishes Enterprise

C got a 3,000+ piece Star Trek Enterprise Mega Bloks set for Christmas and it got finished and put on display yesterday. She worked on it for days.

It's HUGE--about 30+ inches long. She's got it on display on top of a cabinet.

Thursday, December 27, 2018


Peanuts in the shell are also very entertaining (and time-consuming!), and new to T.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018


We're having a good Christmas at home in TX. We got a bunch of board games. T played Dixit (probably her first big kid board game) tonight and did quite well and C is working on a massive Mega Block Star Trek Enterprise (3,000+ blocks). We all enjoyed chocolate cinnamon bread pudding last night.

I bought a pomegranate at the store today and T (who got to try one earlier this week) is very excited to work on this one. Pomegranates are an amazing little kid entertainment device, because it takes forever to pull out all the seeds.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Black Friday

We had a quiet nuclear family Thanksgiving at home and then some family fun on Black Friday. Here's what we did:

  • We all five went to see Ralph Breaks the Internet.  
  • Husband and I took T to the skating place with a super fun multilevel playground. Husband skated a bunch and T played a lot and skated a little.
  • Husband and C and D went to game night at some friends, but C felt she might be getting sick, so she came home early. Husband and D had fun.

Homestead Heritage Craft Fair

My husband and I took T (age 6) to the Homestead Heritage Thanksgiving craft fair. The big kids have, sadly, gotten too big for it for the moment. But, with any luck, they'll eventually grow back into it. 

This is the schedule of events. It's SO much. They have a large tent devoted to make-your-own projects and there are pony and horse rides and hay rides and so forth. Baby Girl is at exactly the age to enjoy the craft fair with every fiber of her being, as she is very crafty and is big enough to start doing some of the projects, and if we come back, she'll be able to do more and more.

Here's what we did today:

--Looked at petting zoo critters. T loved watching other little girls petting lambs, but stayed cautiously outside the pen.
--Looked at poultry (chickens, a peacock and some turkeys) and sheep and goats.
--T did a hay maze 3 different times.
--Watched a sheep-shearing demonstration.
--Enjoyed cocoa and amazing spiced cake donuts.
--Watched a sheep-herding demonstration involving a workaholic border collie.
--T hammered out a metal spoon.
--T helped with a kids' mini-barn raising.
--T made two wool felt dryer balls for me. (I had been planning to buy some.)
--Husband sampled some of their raw milk smoked gouda (after checking the health risks--it sounds like hard cheese is pretty safe) and said it was very good.

I went into the "Craft Pavilion" (where they have the fancy stuff made by the community for sale) and the stuff was really, really nice. Alas, at this point in our lives, we can't afford simple living...But when I can, I'll buy some of their stuff.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Busy busy

I came back from parent teacher conference to find that all three of the kids were in T's room assembling her new bed!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Goodbye to grandpa

This is just a quick note for archival purposes (as I'll probably eventually print out a book version of this for the kids):

Grandpa (the kids great-grandpa) died early yesterday morning at the age of 96, a week before he would have celebrated his 97th birthday with T (they share a birthday, 91 years apart). Despite suffering two heart attacks the previous day and being in the hospital, I'm told that grandpa was cheerful and able to talk on the last day. My sister says that what he was telling everybody was how proud he was of the kids and grandkids.

Grandpa was one of the best people I have ever known. You often hear people say that they put their family first, but that's what my grandparents really did--put their family first.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Baby Girl loves cats

Baby Girl was in the tub and she said (apropos of nothing), "Clicker training is easier for cats."

She also really wants to replicate the video with two cats dinging bells to get treats.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

T's budget

T has saved $6 or $7 now.

Yesterday, she was saying, "Mama, I can have budgets. What should I do with my money?"

Thursday, July 5, 2018

4th of July

We had a fantastic fireworks show that we watched from some college green space.

My husband did a dry ice ice cream project with the kids. The last time we did this was before we lived in our current house, so 6+ years ago. We were a bit put off by the fizzy flavor at the time. Also, it overflowed like a science fair volcano.

This time, my husband used a Ben and Jerry's recipe book and did two different flavors: a creamy orange ice cream and a chocolate Reese's pieces ice cream. He also only did the dry ice step with half of each flavor, which prevented the overflow.

Some conclusions:

As expected, the creamy orange ice cream was fine with a little fizz (it's like orange soda pop). We let it rest a bit in the freezer before eating, as we did not want to accidentally ingest frozen CO2. As the dry ice fizzes out, it gets less carbonated tasting and more creamy tasting.

We let the chocolate Reese's pieces ice cream sit until after lunch the next day. Everybody loved it. It had very good flavor and texture. It was ever so slightly fizzy tasting, but the chocolate was the dominant note.

We are thinking about doing this as birthday party entertainment for an upcoming birthday, and our thinking is that fruit or soda flavors will work well if the idea is to eat same night (because people are used to a little fizz with those flavors), but that it's best to wait longer for a lot of other flavors. I'd like to try strawberry.

We also had dry ice shenanigans/experiments (READ ONLINE SAFETY WARNINGS--there can be some unexpected issues with the expansion of CO2 gas).

The supplies cost a lot, but as I noted, Ben and Jerry's is $4 per pint, and there was a lot of entertainment. We are thinking of inviting a family of little girls to join us for CO2 hijinks for T's birthday in the fall.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Rocks and shells

I just brokered a deal between C and T and D and T whereby the big kids got $2.25 each from T and T got a nice little stash of geodes, amethyst, quartz crystal, amber, pyrite, shells, shark teeth, etc.

I got the idea from visiting the children's museum and seeing T's interest in the gift shop rock table.

Husband's thought is that we can repair the rock tumbler, order some tumbling rocks and grit, and do a rock tumbling project with T. T is at exactly the right age for enjoying this.

I also, come to think of it, have a rocks and minerals book that she would enjoy.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


I've been thinking of getting T a nice xylophone (i.e. not Fisher Price). I was at the music store for C's lesson earlier in the week and impulsed a nice 25-key child's xylophone, after having a store employee check it out for me. I've got it set up in T's room now.

I've asked C to work a little with T on the xylophone (for the usual financial consideration--$2 per 15 minutes). C has never had a xylophone lesson (!) but it's a fun little instrument, and I can hear her picking out a Star Trek theme right now.

I'll probably also have C teach T a little ukulele later in the summer when C has less going on.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Here's some of what's happning:

  • The girls and I went to WA and saw the family, especially their 3-year-old cousin.
  • Since we've come back, everybody but me and T has been doing camp. T and I have been shuttling siblings back and forth. (We have had a reasonably humane schedule, though--I kept things pretty simple.)
  • T achieved a longed for goal. She acquired three large bouncy balls from a bouncy ball vending machine at Old Navy.
  • Some friends are expecting a third child. T (herself a third child) told me that this means that thy will have a "perfect" family.
  • T did 22 pages of the Kumon kindergarten logic workbook of her own accord, and got only two items wrong.
  • I showed T a couple videos on how vending machines work. 
  • We went to the gym yesterday and the kids did racquetball and bouldering.
  • C's teacher is teaching a little bit (he has had dire health issues the last half year and is on a transplant list), so C is back doing ukulele lessons--she had taken the spring off from lessons but went to a bunch of local ukulele meetings.
  • C is working through a book of Star Wars theme music. She has just started working on the Imperial March (Darth Vader's theme).
  • Although there is no LOTR sheet music for ukulele, I have just discovered that there is a lot of piano sheet music. We may need C to work on adapting that with her teacher, but it does exist. (C and her teacher have already done a lot of adaptations for Star Trek.)

Friday, May 25, 2018


As per a promise of several months ago, I brought a 12 pack of Hatchimals to school on the last day (today) and handed them out to T's class. I made the kids promise not to open them until they got parental permission (cause messy) and then scooted off with T.

Both upper school and lower school got out at exactly the same time today (12 noon) and the carpool lines were epic.


Last night, we took T out for her second no-training-wheels outing with her Frozen bike (not a huge Frozen person, but it's literally the prettiest girl's bike I've ever seen). My husband was doing the teaching. In the last week, the training wheels came off (she was complaining about the noise) and she had her first lesson. Last night, she made incredible progress. She can pedal, can start herself, can turn, and did loop after loop on a little circle on campus. She still needs to work on braking by pedaling backward, not just braking with her feet. And she's 5.5! I think this is the earliest that any of our kids has learned to ride a bike, but she had a balance bike starting at 3ish or 4ish.

T was so determined when she was working on her biking.

Thursday, May 24, 2018


D is a diligent container gardener and operates about 5 pots. The mint bush is (unsurprisingly) extremely vibrant. We had some disappointments with the cilantro, which something kept digging up. I think there was also supposed to be dill, but nothing. The radishes were also sparse. However, D got a tomato plant (the first ever purchased by our household) and successfully grew three medium sized tomatoes to yummy red ripeness. We were thrilled.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Almost the end

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Yesterday was theoretically a school day, but T never set foot in her classroom. She had a class play, a character award ceremony (T got the award for "industrious") and then we went home, got her daddy, and then we all went out to an Eden-like suburban community, with lots of trees, fancy schmancy houses, and (most important for our purposes), a community pool with an outdoor kitchen and dining area and a moon bounce set up. The kids had a blast.
  • T and I worked on the papers in her room this morning/early afternoon. We're done. SO TIRED.
  • C also did a full-length ukulele lesson (15 minutes) with T. C has tried this off and on, but has had trouble with T's short attention span. We'll probably do more this summer.

Saturday, May 12, 2018


Here's some of what is happening:

  • We are so close to the end of school!
  • T loves her Hatchimals. I ordered up a bunch and we are planning on handing them out to her classmates on the last day of school.
  • Both C and D are going to have three half days of exams at the end of the term.
  • T is also loving Wii Sports Resort.
  • It occurred to me that I need a real sewing basket (my mending stuff is bursting out of a plastic box). I've just ordered a black sewing basket with white polka dots.
  • Husband is done teaching and done with graduation.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Candy communism

D asked today (and C and I immediately understood), "When do we go communist?"

What this refers to is the family custom that candy hauls belong to the individual forager for a limited period of time, after which it all gets turned into shared family candy.

We go communist on Easter candy on Tuesday. 

Happy Easter!

Here's some of what happened today:

  • We went to morning Mass at the Catholic student chaplaincy.
  • We had our traditional egg sandwiches for lunch. 
  • The kids loaded up dozens of plastic eggs with tiny chocolate bars and foil chocolate eggs.
  • Each child got a turn to hide three eggs outside.
  • Husband hid the remaining eggs (including two mega eggs)--and not just low to the ground and visible, but in trees, in the grill, on door handles, under toys, you name it.
  • The kids hunted, with T getting a head start of the count of 15. (The consensus of the rest of the family is that she doesn't need that much time anymore.)
  • I got a nap. YAY!
  • Some kind friends invited us to their Easter party around dinner time. T had a glorious time digging in the dirt with the youngest of the hosting family. D played gaga ball, and the rest of us socialized.

Trail ride

Here's some of what happened yesterday:

  • Husband and C and D went for a 2-hour trail ride about 40 minutes away. It was very rugged. Husband says C loves the Texas countryside. It is a very green time of year right now.
  • D went to a young family friend's birthday party in the afternoon.

Thursday, March 22, 2018


This past weekend, we had D's friend party for his birthday. We were planning to do an outside NERF fight (a favorite with boys this age), but the weather report (which later turned out to be unreliable) said multiple thunderstorms. We decided to show the first Toby Maguire Spiderman.

Some thoughts:

  • There were 15 of us: the 5 of us, two smaller boys who are family friends and 8 male classmates from 7th grade.
  • We gave kids popcorn and soda during the movie.
  • They were pretty loud, but also funny, geeky, good at spotting plot issues and have encyclopedic knowledge of DC and Marvel.
  • They really didn't like Peter's final mushy scene with MJ at the cemetery--in fact, nearly all of them melted away at that point. "They're still talking???!!!" said one boy.
  • They liked our foam swords. In fact, they liked them so much that a couple got broken. (I had to point out that while the exterior is foam, they have wooden dowels on the inside.)
  • It was an odd time for pizza, but we had pizza anyway. It turns out that after a hard afternoon of watching a super hero movie, that's exactly what 13-year-old boys want.
  • We had German chocolate cake--D's favorite.
  • Then the kids got to play outside before pickup--there was some foam sword fighting, some zipline, some stilt walking, etc.  

Sunday, March 11, 2018


Here's some of what's happening:

  • D is turning 13!
  • D has been working on his bouldering and my husband thinks that he should be in the advanced category soon in climbing competition.
  • T has been very frisky over spring break. SO much doorway climbing.
  • C is all confirmed and her grandma gave her a gold St. Jadwiga medal.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Best day ever!!!

A couple of T notes:

  • T has decided that Hatchimals are too expensive.
  • Earlier today, T announced, "This is the best day of my life!" The two things that earned that distinction for today were a) I found a shiny penny on the ground and gave it to T and b) we scored a race car grocery cart at the store.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Budget again

T (age 5) said, "I'm doing my budget!"

She also is really into Hatchimals these days and likes to pretend to be a Hatchimal. She likes me to rub her back and pretend that she is hatching out of a shell.