"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."

Monday, January 31, 2011

Poor Parenting

I had a horrible dream last night. Buckle up, because I'm going to share:

I had all four kids with me and we had been grocery shopping. My arms were full of groceries. Heavy ones. Mason was carrying Rylan and the girls were hanging onto me. We didn't have a car for some reason in the dream. We were walking. So we happened to walk by a convenience store and we went inside. I let the kids buy some candy and each get a GIANT 64 ounce soda from the fountain. Each. I was still carrying the groceries and dragging around the children. I somehow found the money in my pocket to pay for the drinks and then we continued walking home. The groceries were getting really heavy and the girls were whining and crying loudly. We were only about a block from home, so I told the kids that they could run ahead and cross the road to our house because I couldn't go very fast carrying all the groceries. Mason was still carrying Rylan for some reason. The kids ran home and I eventually arrived. When I got home the kids were all happy and fine, but there were two old neighbor ladies standing on my front lawn. (It was green in the dream. Strange.) They were REALLY mad that I had let my children cross a busy road alone and that I left them all alone. They proceeded to chew me out for a long time. They were getting ready to call child services on me when Rylan woke up and I had to get up in real life to get him a bottle.

It was one of those dreams where you wake up and you aren't quite sure if it really happened or not. I must have been feeling a load of mommy guilt for one reason or another.

Also, I sort of think it's hilarious that my subconscious manifests poor parenting by allowing children to drink soda and cross the street unattended.

And now a bit of real life poor parenting:

This is what happens when the mom thinks that the dad is doing a job that the dad thinks the mom is doing. In this case, turning off the tub water.

You may not be able to tell in the picture, but the water is to THE TOP of the tub, and about to spill over the edge. The bubbles didn't allow the overflow to work properly. Averie was swimming around having the time of her life. The door to the bathroom was open and we were all listening to her playing and chattering, not realizing that the water was still running. Duh! I panicked a little when I saw how deep the water was. I have a terrible fear of kids drowning in the tub. Averie is almost 4, and fine in the water, of course, but STILL! We immediately drained the tub to the normal three-ish inches and I helped her finish her bath. I'm so grateful that all was well. Also, that the house wasn't flooded.

This is certainly where the guilt from my dream came from. Little things like this remind me how fragile life is and how cautious and diligent we must be as parents.

And Averie is henceforth grounded from bubble baths until further notice.

Crazy Hair Day

Mason's class earned the reward "crazy hair day" for reading 1100 A.R. points as a class. He was quite excited to participate. It's a good thing he needs a haircut.



And in other news, Mason won first place for the third grade in the science fair! It was actually a three-way tie for first. (They judged on a point system with a rubric, and all three kids got the same score.) They all get to go to the district science fair later this month.

He was really excited. There were a lot of very cool projects, so the competition was stiff.
Way to go Mason!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mason the Scientist



Mason wanted to enter the school science fair this year. I always loved science and science fairs. In truth, I think I was more excited than he was. Nothing like living vicariously through your children.

I vaguely recall winning first place for a model of the solar system one year. (Doesn't every kid make a model of the solar system at some point?) And I was always envious of the "really cool" projects that some of the kids came up with. I mean, REAL volcanoes that erupt red lava all over the gym floor... who wouldn't love THAT? Well, apparently whomever had to clean it up year after year, because the #1 rule for the science fair this year was NO VOLCANOES. Noted.

Mason went back and forth and thought and thought about what he wanted to do for his project. He really wanted to make a battery or an engine, or possibly make something with magnets or robotics. All of the project ideas we found were too complicated, expensive, involved, or technical for a third grader. They also involved specialized parts from stores that we do not have here. And also, I know nothing about batteries, engines, or robotics. Not that I'm not willing to learn. But I encouraged him to choose something else. After an entire day of sitting home with the flu and thinking about his project, Mason decided he wanted to learn more about pH. He has experimented with my pH testing strips before and always had a lot of questions about why they turned different colors. Perfect!

He made a list of questions he had about pH, acid, and base, and then we researched the topic. He knows a lot about it now! Just ask him about how the potential of hydrogen relates to acid or base. His project question was, "How do acid and base effect living and non-living things?" His hypothesis table was hilarious. He figured that acid would burn up and melt everything because that's how it always goes down in movies. His project results completely surprised him.

First he tested all kinds of things around the house until he had found something from almost every pH. (Excluding 0 and 14, which hopefully nobody has sitting around the house.) I was really surprised by some of them as well. He made a pH scale and then picked the strongest acid and the strongest base for his project. They were both strong chemicals (toilet bowl cleaner and drain opener), so I handled the chemicals when it was time to use them.
Safely first!


He chose four objects to be his test subjects: Ellorie's hair, a steel nail, a penny, and a piece of wood. Each object was tested in the pH 1 acid, the pH 13 base, and the pH 7 water (neutral). He took careful observations after 1 minute, one hour, one day, and five days. Here are some pictures:

The water (control) after five days:


The acid :


and the base:



I was totally amazed that the toilet bowl cleaner completely gutted the penny leaving only the copper foil. No wonder plumbers use copper pipes. The nail was almost completely dissolved, and the wood looked like charcoal. The hair was a little bleached, but not really changed.

The base totally dissolved the hair. Not a strand left. The penny and nail were unchanged, and even still dirty. The wood looked like it was tanned. It was smaller, curved and orange in color.

Mason drew the conclusions that base strongly effects organic materials and can be dangerous to people. This is because a base strips molecules of hydrogen ions. Organic things don't like that very much. Metal isn't really effected by it. He decided that acids aren't as strong as he thought, but that they corrode metal because they "give" hydrogen ions which causes the metal to break down really fast. The nail looks like it was left outside for about 100 years because the acid caused extreme oxidation. The nail in the water has a tiny bit of rust due to normal oxidation in the water. So cool!

After he gathered all his "data" we followed the instructions in the science project guidelines. He made a really cool display.

Did you notice that he is somewhat obsessed with my Cricut? I had to help him with that part. He REALLY likes to use the Cricut.


It was excited to watch him really use his brain to learn something new. He had a whole week home with the flu to work on things, so it was pretty detailed. That binder in front of the project is chock full of his hypothesis, observations, results, conclusions, etc. It sort of made me want to homeschool. For about five minutes. I'm over it now. Maybe someday.

The science fair is tonight, but it's a "closed" science fair, for judges only. LAME! I totally wanted to see all the cool projects. We have to go pick them up at the end, so maybe I'll sneak over a bit early to peek at all of the displays.

Hooray for science!

Monday, January 24, 2011

More Hoar Frost

It was a balmy 3 degrees (yes, THREE) outside this morning. Clear and beautiful. Perfect weather for my favorite scenery.
















Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fingerpaintin'




Ellorie has been asking me to buy her some finger paints for years now. Years. She finally got some for her birthday. She is in painting bliss. Her first finger painting masterpiece was a dragon, of course. She's a bit obsessed at the moment. (I have no idea where she gets it...)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Time and Space

(Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion by Salvador Dali)

Have you ever thought about what super power you would choose (if such things existed)? Invisibility? Super strength? Flying? X-ray vision, Mind reading? Light speed? Telekinesis? Talk to machines or animals? Power over weather? Shape shifting? There are a lot of good ones to choose from.

Mason and I had a conversation about this the other day. I told him I would choose the ability of slowing down time. He looked at me like I was crazy. But then again, time doesn't really exist to a kid.

January always catches me off guard. I expect things to be slow and easy after the mad holiday and Christmas season of traveling, planning, cooking, entertaining, etc. It never quite happens that way.

Every year I suddenly find it to be mid-January (a.k.a. tax season) and I feel uneasy. I want to stop time. Slow it down at least. I start setting goals, making lists, planning projects, cleaning out closets, crafting, baking... in short, I over-do it. Then, I'm disappointed that none of the things on my lists were accomplished, or in some cases even attempted. It's a vicious cycle.

But today I stumbled across this quote on this blog, and it sang to me:

"When the veil which now encloses us is no more, time will also be no more. Even now, time is clearly not our natural dimension. Thus it is that we are never really at home in time. ... Whereas the bird is at home in the air, we are clearly not at home in time—because we belong to eternity! Time, as much as any one thing, whispers to us that we are strangers here. If time were natural to us, why is it that we have so many clocks and wear wristwatches?"

-Neil A. Maxwell



I love it! I'm making a commitment today to live in the present. It's so easy to be taken over by the things that are screaming for our time. The trick is to remember why we are really here and what is really important. I needed that little reminder today.





Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Major Neglect (A Confession)


There are many things in my life that suffer from major neglect. (Hopefully my children and family are not on that list.) I'm talking about cleaning and organization here.

Some people are neat and tidy to a fault. For instance THIS amazing/poor soul that refers to herself as Penelope. Her blog is full of great ideas for cleaning and organizing, as well as rants and complaints about people like me that don't seem to mind the dust and sticky fingerprints on my computer screen. I have to admit that I'm fascinated by people that keep things perfectly neat, tidy, organized, disinfected, and inspected. I WANT to be a clean freak, I really do. I'm just not wired that way.

I used to hate, loathe, and despise cleaning of any kind. Not when I was 8, I'm talking about as an adult. My poor, poor college roommates. They all must have secretly hated me. I never knew how messy I was. Even after I was married, I really struggled with cleaning things. I just had other priorities.

Yeah, the toilet is gross, I'll clean it I guess. If no one else will.
We're out of dishes, guess these ones need to be washed. Eventually.
I'm out of clean clothes, time for laundry.
Dusting? Ironing? What's that??

I rationalized that it was fine because I'm an artist and I thrive in "creative messes". I think it was just an excuse for being lazy. Maybe it has something to do with having a husband and four children, or maybe I'm just a "grown-up" now. (yikes!), but I really do prefer things clean these days. I'm still learning how to do a lot of it, and I'm still terrible at it. On any given day MY bedroom is the messiest in the house. But I am putting forth a valiant effort. Most of the time.

Anyway, here is a recent organization project that I chose to undertake. It was small, but in desperate need.

Let me introduce you to my *ahem* jewelry drawer:

Isn't it pretty?
You're seeing where the term "major neglect" might apply?
Stop laughing, okay. This is serious.

It was absolutely driving me crazy that every time I reached for a necklace or bracelet, I first had to untangle it from a massive knot of beads and chains. Some necklaces I haven't worn for years because I couldn't free them from the enormous mass. Also, I think there is an ipod tangled up in there somewhere... Ridiculous, I'm telling you. How did this go on for so long? My mother really did teach me better.

So I found a board in the garage and mod podged, sanded, papered, and painted. Then screwed in a million little hooks for hanging. And then Mr. Allen helped me make more holes in the wall. (Guess I can't be blamed for these ones...)
and ta da!!




Now I can actually SEE my jewelry. I have been wearing it a lot more too, for obvious reasons. Now there is actually room in my jewelry drawer for bracelets and rings. And I found my ipod. Along with a few other things. It turns out I actually have some pretty cute jewelry...

And, I have to show you this. My mama made me this gorgeous necklace for Christmas. I just love it. I can't believe she made it.



And now it has a safe home far, far away from the tangled mess that was my jewelry drawer.

My next project: the spice cabinet (DUN-DUN-DUN!!)

So now I want to hear it. Are you a "Penelope"? Or are you a mess like me? Maybe somewhere in between? Tell me I'm not the only one...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Rylan!

One year ago today, this sweet little boy entered our lives:


And this is Rylan today:



We had his pictures taken this morning.
You know, since he's now one and has NEVER been to a photographer before.
(Hello fourth child!) At least I have taken pictures and attempted to record his life via blog. When Mason was a baby I took him in to have his pictures taken every month, religiously. Funny how that happens, even though I swore to myself that I would not let it be that way.


Rylan just started walking this week. It's so cute. He takes tiny little cautious steps. He also busted out his first tooth a couple of days ago. It's been a big week for him!

Here's a little video of his walking:

video

We had a little cake and a couple of presents for him to open. Rylan is officially our happiest child having a first birthday. Mason, Ellorie, and Averie were all ridiculously grumpy. Mason was scared of his presents, Ellorie was scared of the balloons, Averie was scared of the cake. There was lots and lots of crying and grumpy faces. Not Rylan. He was in a great mood today. He's such a good-natured boy. Also, he loves cake.

He's also sort of figured out the whole present-unwrapping thing. He had a lot of helpers though.
He's such a happy, fun boy. We love you Rylan! Happy Birthday!!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Ellorie!

Guess who turned 7 yesterday...


Ellorie wanted a "dragon party" for her birthday celebration, and so we had one. I felt so bad last year about her downplayed birthday, as I was 36 hours from giving birth to Rylan, and didn't have a lot of energy. This year was MUCH better.

She invited a bunch of friends, some of which were out of town and/or unable to come, but we still had a small crowd..

We played some dragon games like "Pin the Tail on the Night Fury"

"Viking, Viking, Dragon" (duck, duck, goose),

we also made "Exquisite Dragon" drawings.

Her cake was actually cupcakes with dinosaurs and chocolate rocks. I couldn't find dragons, and Ellorie loves dinosaurs equally well. Same thing, right?
We also had mint chocolate chip ice cream cones. Ellorie loves mint. (I think because Mason does not.)


On birthdays the kids get to choose all the meals for the day. Ellorie chose crepes for breakfast, school lunch for lunch (corn dogs. Gross.), and mashed potatoes and dumplings for dinner. Ellorie loves her some carbs.

Even though she didn't need a single thing, she got a whole bunch of fun presents. She has been playing with all her new acquisitions since she got home from school today. I think she had a very fun and exciting birthday.

We love you Ellorie!