Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fun Science Moments With Princess

Princess: "Are we in the kingdom Animalia?"
Me: "No, we're in the kingdom Artemisia."

(Only funny if you're both a science geek AND an SCAdian, though.)

We had to persuade Princess to put away her microscope and go to bed last night. She was up late looking at salt and sugar crystals and drawing sketches of them. Let's hope this continues until she's at least 16 years old. (After that, she can look at things under her microscope with boys.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Carnival of Recipes

The Carnival of the Recipes is up!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Things That Suck Worse

I know loads of money has been spent trying to convince people to go in to get colonoscopies to screen for colon cancer, with clever slogans that boil down to "Colonoscopy: Sucks Less Than Colon Cancer!" I wouldn't know, never having had colon cancer (and until tomorrow afternoon, never having had a colonoscopy either). But I can think of a few things that suck more than this nasty colonoscopy prep. Here's my non-comprehensive list of things that suck more than a colonoscopy:
  • Giving birth. Hurts like hell. And they don't allow you to eat, which makes it kind of like colonoscopy prep, except that after a while you don't want to eat anyway because you're focusing on what feels like taking the world's biggest crap while screaming at the top of your lungs.
  • Discovering you are being audited by the IRS and/or investigated by DCFS. Just like a colonoscopy, they're gonna stick you with an anal probe, only unlike a colonoscopy you're not going to be sedated when they do it.
  • Sorry, I had to run to the bathroom. Back now.
  • Prison rape. Hey, it could happen to you! (See "audited by the IRS" above.)
  • Accidentally taking a severe overdose of laxatives while on a juice fast. Oh wait, that's the same as colonoscopy prep...
  • Sorry, I had to run the the bathroom. Back now.
Seriously, they need to include some REAL instructions with that colonoscopy prep handout. Something like, "You're about to take a far larger than recommended mega-dose of laxatives. When we say you 'may feel some urgency' what we really mean is 'get yourself a crown because you're gonna be sitting on the throne all night long peeing out the wrong hole'." Also it would be helpful for them to have included something like "You'll be taking this dose of laxatives around dinner time. MAKE SURE DINNER HAS ALREADY BEEN COOKED AND SERVED TO YOUR FAMILY BEFORE YOU TAKE IT!!!!"

Feed Me, PLEASE...

I have to get a camera stuck up my butt tomorrow (colonoscopy) so today I'm on a clear liquids-only diet. The thing that's bothering me the most about it is the feeling of my stomach being empty. I have to stay out of the kitchen so I'm not tempted to pop something substantial into my mouth.

I want FOOD, dammit! No more apple juice! No more ginger ale! None of this broth crap! I want meat and cheese and vegetables and fruits and bread!

And it's only 2 in the afternoon. In 2 hours I get to add a laxative to my lovely liquid diet. It probably won't change much of anything, since the reason I'm getting the colonoscopy is to find the cause of chronic diarrhea. I'm actually kinda looking forward to having nothing in there to cause gas or bloating. It'll make a nice change. I might even be able to fit into my skinnier pants when I'm not a gigantic methane balloon from the waist to the hips.

Wardrobe Malfunction

Sonshine has a reputation for being, to put it mildly, rather hard on his clothes, particularly his pants knees. No sooner have we walked out of a store with a sackful of new pants, than he looks at them and the knees of the pants just split wide open of their own accord, in helpless surrender to his mighty knee-slicing power. He's less hard on them now, though, than he used to be when he was wearing size 4. He used to literally chew up his clothes, especially his shirts. He didn't have a single shirt that wasn't all chewed up around the sleeve cuff or the neckline or both. There was very little in that size that he could pass on to his little brothers, but I didn't think much of it because at the time Bagel was just a tiny baby and couldn't dream of fitting a size 4, so I figured I had plenty of time to replace the wardrobe. What really happened, though, was that I forgot all about it-- until this morning, when our weather took a cold and rainy turn.

I thought, "I've got bins and bins of clothes in the closet! I'll just pop in there and pick Bagel out a nice warm outfit!" WRONG. I do have bins and bins of clothes-- in sizes 5 through 7. The 4's that were Sonshine's were all completely destroyed, except for one pair of sweatpants (which Bagel is now wearing). The only reason we still have any 5's at all is that Sonshine was wearing them when we got the Asperger's diagnosis. When we were able to effectively deal with his sensory issues, the clothes-chewing got better. There are very few pairs of pants, though: most of them got cut off into shorts after they were split at the knees.

It looks like Bagel's going to have more extensive fall wardrobe needs than I thought. Time to go shopping!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Return of T.E.S.L.A.

Here are my Evil Scientist Plans for our kids' science club, T.E.S.L.A. (Totally Educational Science Learning Activities).

October doesn't really have a discernible theme; the experiments for this month are mostly scheduled according to how fast I can get supplies ordered in.

October 7: Wings
We will study the Bernoulli effect and learn how airplanes fly.

October 14: pHerfect!
We will learn about pH and litmus-test many different substances. We will also learn a bit about other substances besides litmus paper that change color in the presence of acid or base, and learn why the soil hydrangeas are planted in affects their color.

October 21: The Light Waved At Me
We will learn about how light is a wave, and how polarized sunglasses work. (Light is also a particle, but we won't be exploring that on the 21st.) We will experiment with flashlights and polarized film. Each child should bring a flashlight with him or her (no flashlights will be harmed in the making of this experiment).

Special Saturday session, October 25: Potato Lights! We will be learning about electric circuits by making potatoes light up an LED. Use a safe, cool potato light inside your jack-o-lantern instead of a hot waxy candle. My husband suggests you might be able to use the jack-o-lantern itself in lieu of the potato to power the LED... try an experiment!

October 28: no lesson (we have a doctor appointment)

November is Optics Month. Since we will be moving the class inside and getting toward the solstice, this is the perfect time to do some experiments with light.

November 4, Election Day: Two-Faced, Three-Faced, Four-Faced...
We will be experimenting with mirrors to see the multiple faces of our politicians (or our future politicians, anyway) and making a kaleidoscope to take home. Each child will need to bring a paper towel tube and a toilet paper tube. (Be prepared to find your kid sitting on the bathroom counter swinging the medicine cabinet door open and shut after this lesson.)

November 11: Up Periscope!
We will be exploring how mirrors change images, playing with concave and convex mirrors, and making a periscope to see around corners, under tables, and over fences. (Kids will be reminded NOT to use their periscopes for evil, such as looking under skirts, inside bathroom stalls, or into their siblings' business.) Each child will need to bring two clean, empty quart milk cartons or two paper towel tubes or a long mailing tube.

November 18: Meet Roy G. Biv
We will learn about the spectrum and use prisms to break light up into colors. We will learn how rainbows happen and why the sky is blue and why CD's make nifty suncatchers.

November 25: Scope It Out
We will take our spectrum knowledge even further by building a simple spectroscope to analyze the colors of light, particularly home light sources like incandescent bulbs, fluorescent bulbs, sunlight, and firelight. There will be a discussion of how scientists use spectroscopy to find out what the sun and other stars are made of. Each child will need to bring a toilet paper tube. NOTE: this will involve demonstrations (not experiments performed by children) of analyzing the light emitted by burning objects. Children will be discouraged from trying this at home, but we all know there's the occasional child who takes that disclaimer as a dare, so if your child is known to be one of those, you may want to keep a close eye on your matches after this one.

We will take another hiatus for the month of December so that your children can enjoy looking at their potato-based holiday lights through their periscopes, kaleidoscopes, and spectroscopes. (You may not see more than one of your child's eyes at a time for a while!)

I'm seriously considering adding a special session for December, on cleaning silver electrolytically, so that the kids can help get things ready for the big holiday dinner.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A good, if intellectual, read

Some very intriguing ideas on politics and culture here. Don't miss the discussion of this article here either.

If I Had A Million Dollars, Part 352,701

I would buy one of these. (Link via PJM.)

Heck, I'd buy 'em all. I'll need something to decorate my very, very large Math Room in my Gigantic Mansion.

This is what 352 pairs of baby booties look like

... in case you were wondering.

That's 96 pounds of booties, all crammed into three very large moving boxes. And if they'd ordered 353 pairs of booties, there would have to have been a fourth box. Those boxes are so crammed that booties will probably pop out of them as soon as the tape is slit.

Pardon the mess in the van, btw. I wanted to arrange for a pickup but apparently what FedEx means by "next business day" is the same as what the rest of us mean by "two business days", and the order had to ship today to make it on time to its destination.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll get back to being totally exhausted. I was up until 2:30 last night getting these packed. I wanted to take pictures of the booties before packing them up, but because of the late hour I had to scrap my plans to do the sorting and counting outside, and do it in my living room, which barely left enough room for me to stand in the midst of all the booties, let alone take a picture.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sonshine Ponders Entrepreneurship

Sonshine earns money by doing chores. His particular specialty, and real money-maker, is bathroom cleaning. We've priced the chores so that the "dirtier" chores pay more, and he discovered this, so he cleans bathrooms and takes out trash and does other "dirty" chores like that. He makes more money than Princess, pays his tithing, saves up the rest, and spends it all on Bionicles. He scours eBay and Amazon looking for good deals on Bionicles. (Did I mention he's eight years old?)

Last week he had me bid on some Bionicles on eBay for him. He bought two Bionicles for $8.50 (including shipping). One of his friends just offered him $20 for the pair, so he's seriously considering "flipping" them and using the money he made to buy a much larger and more expensive Bionicle.

I don't know what to think about all this Bionicle selling. This is not the first Bionicle that he and his friends have sold to each other, and some of their little financial arrangements in the past have resulted in some ruffled feathers that I've had to go smooth over. If Sonshine starts making ungodly amounts of money dealing in rare Bionicles, there's bound to be some jealousy. On the other hand, I really want to encourage Sonshine to learn about reselling and how to make money besides working for a wage. And I personally wouldn't mind him discovering how to make ungodly amounts of money; it's a skill he can certainly make good use of in the future.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Look Ma, I'm On That Newfangled Interthingy

I finally got "with it" and signed up for Facebook. Now I'm getting a bunch of emails that all the people I ever knew in High School want to be my Facebook friends. I tend to forget about people who used to be my friends, and kind of leave that part of my life behind, because in the past it's just been too painful to deal with the separation. It's really isolating to do that, though, and I'm now at the point where dealing with the isolation is worse than dealing with the pain.

I suppose it's a good thing that I finally got with the times though. This whole Interthingy that all the young'uns are on nowadays gets a bit confusing for old fogeys like me who can't figure out iTunes. :)

Any advice for me on etiquette on adding friends? I found that a very old and dear friend of mine is on Facebook, but somewhere around 10 years ago we had a fight and he broke off the friendship over a political issue. Because of the nature of the issue and the milieus in which we both have lived since then, I find it likely that his view on the issue has diverged from mine even more during the intervening time. Should I request to add him as a friend, or should I just let sleeping dogs lie?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kid Quote Of The Day

Princess, using a thesaurus: "I wonder if they have a synonym for 'synonym'..."

She was disappointed; it didn't.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Recipe: Squash Soup, or, What To Do With A Gigantic Squash, Part 1

Someone gave us a gigantic squash that was over 2 feet long. I decided I'd better do something about it so I turned it into squash puree. I cut the squash up into sections, boiled the crap out of it in my largest stockpot, and fed it through a Victorio strainer. What I'm going to do with the puree is another story. I figured I could always punt and freeze the stuff, and figure out what to do with it later. I thought I might make some of it into squash leather (which would be tastier than it sounds, and a great snack for the kids; scroll to bottom of link for recipe) but there was way more squash puree than I could use for a batch of that, even if I used the dehydrator along with the oven.

Since I spent all morning on the kids and the squash, though, it got to be lunchtime and I hadn't done anything toward making lunch. So I made an impromptu squash soup out of some of the puree that hadn't been drained yet. It turned out really well! So, for posterity, here's the recipe of what to make for lunch on the day you process the squash of fall.

Squash Soup
4 c. squash puree
2 c. water (more if puree has been drained)
1 Tbsp. chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. sage
Mix all ingredients and heat to desired temperature.

Better late than never

The Carnival of the Recipes!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

No, Really

My Favorite Husband came home tonight from the store with a pencil sharpener.

A USB pencil sharpener.

A USB pencil sharpener with flashing multicolor LEDs.

No, really. And he said they had a USB stapler too.

Princess says she wants one now.

It's Sooooo Shiny!

My dining room table has been washed down so many times that the finish has worn off and in spots it's down to the bare wood. It got to the point where it doesn't come clean anymore. Every little thing that falls on it sticks to it so badly it has to be scraped off, and even after it's been scraped and wiped down, it's still sticky.

Yesterday I got the chance to do something about it: I coated my table top in epoxy.

I got this stuff that's really shiny and clear, the kind of stuff they use on bar tops. You don't paint this stuff on, you spread it on with a trowel. I let it dry all night. This morning, my table is shiny as hell! It feels really smooth, too. It'll be so slick that the dishes will slide right off it.

Maybe now I can get the kids to actually clean the table off before setting it, instead of trying to pile the dinner dishes on top of the cornflakes.