Friday, March 29, 2013

5th grade - edible cell project

As part of the 5th grade science curriculum in our school, the students are asked to create an edible model of a cell.  The school uses the Wayne's World illustration copyrighted to W.P. Armstrong.  Dragon chose an animal cell...

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It was interesting to watch this project develop for a few reasons.  One Dragon's personality is to just slap something together and call it a day.  Two he doesn't have a wide knowledge of candy...

So his initial list looked something like:
chocolate chips
hershey's kiss

it just so happens that we have a friend who was at the house who saw the assignment and his list of materials.  She used to be a biology teacher.  She asked him if she could talk about this assignment with him.

Science Project; "cell" cake photo 2013-03-26194059_zps762c75eb.jpg

Her enthusiasm got him to really think it through.
so the shopping list became:
ribbon candy
gummy worms
fruit rollups
gummy egg

he added some white chocolate chips, you can see in the first picture, labeled 'golgi vesicles"

I substituted gummy octopus for gummy egg, and that was his nucleus and he used 1/2 of one for his pinocytotic vesicle.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dragon's Birthday

Dragon turned 11 on Monday - but we've bowed our heads to the work week and started squeezing birthday celebrations into our weekends... Saturday Dragon went to my mother's for an overnight and to go birthday shopping with her.  Sunday they came over for the traditional waffle breakfast, Tim makes a banana based vegan waffle which with the new waffle iron comes out fabulous.  I think anything would be fabulous with that new waffle iron he bought, it is spiffy!

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birthday breakfast!

I love Little Hawk's face back in the left corner of the table.  What is he hollering about? 

After breakfast we had a little bit of time and Dragon took his new Legos and books and tucked himself away upstairs.  He went to watch "Jack the Giant Slayer" at the movies with two of his friends, Cameron and Matt, and his dad, and Tiger and MLyons.  And then it was off to dinner at Second St. Bistro with Tim's parents.

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Taken on the way to dinner - snow! It rarely snows in Williamsburg and this is late March! Wow!

Outside Second St Bistro, March 24, 2013 photo 2013-03-24181101_zps9ff8c664.jpg
Snow outside Second St. 
Outside Second Street Bistro.  We don't visit restaurants too often with Tim's strict Vegan diet - but there is a special surprise here...

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Family gathered 'round

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Rusi trying to eat a very large Hamburger! Hah!

Chris Long is the Executive Chef at Second St.  He is also an active dad with Co-Op preschool.  We wanted to give Dragon some lessons in the kitchen and the closest we could find were up in Richmond on Tuesday nights.  There is no way... but Chef Long agreed to give Dragon 3 lessons, one a month, and that was Dragon's big present for his birthday this year.  We have yet to work out the details... but we will.  Dragon is *so* excited!

While we were inside eating it kept snowing... MLyons got too hot and we went outside for a minute.

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M in Narnia!

Williamsburg Snow, March 24, 2013 photo 2013-03-24201013_zps62de7116.jpg
my home in snow

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Walk in Colonial Williamsburg

Saturday was a whirl wind day, but somehow Tiger and I squeezed in a walk in Kahn Sol and Thalia in Colonial Williamsburg.  We parked off behind the Dewitt Wallace Museum by the pasture.  If you walk away from the museum along the edge of the parking lot and the pasture fence you find a little footpath.

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Daffy photo IMG_3813_zps9ddd3027.jpg
blurry Daffy

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pasture across from the DeWitt Wallace

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playing at the country gentleman portrait pose
I love that last photo.  Perhaps some day I'll have time to do a lovely oil (I haven't worked in oils since my first pregnancy) and blend that pasture setting with Tiger and the two dogs...

The sun kept going in and out and we crossed the road towards Duke of Gloucestor.  We wanted to walk through the small maze over by what the kids call "the climbing tree."   I stopped to take a photo of the beehive (something about that setting that I love) and a dog snarled at us.  Thalia answered and then Kahn Sol actually dragged Tiger across the road at the offending dog.  Tiger's arm was all scrapped up.  I called Kahn Sol off and he turned around but only after pulling Tiger over- so we put the dogs into a 5 minute "down stay" to remind them which end of the leash they are on.  

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beehive garden, faces the green by Governor's Palace
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sheep pen behind the maze
I love all the pastoral settings in and around Williamsburg.  It is such a lovely place to go for a walk.  I need to update my Good Neighbor Pass so I can go inside the buildings and take some photos to share. (The Grounds are free for walking about, a purchased pass gets you inside buildings.  As it is a non profit museum they would really like us to purchase passes.)

playing in the dirt

It is time to start thinking about the garden.  Last year when Tim overhauled the back yard, he created a space for garden beds.  Well, they are full of dirt, and he's got a drip line going through them, and even though it snowed yesterday (what!) it is time to start thinking about planting.  Most people wait until April 15th for planting, but greens can go in a bit earlier.  So today I put in a green bed: lettuce, spinach, kale, onions & radishes.  I looked up companion gardening and they said that lettuce like onion and radishes.  Spinach and Kale are supposed to like radishes too.  And then because I just couldn't stand all the nice, neat orderliness, I stuck a sunflower in each corner with a nasturtium and sweet peas, and also a row of nasturtium down the middle of the greens bed. Whew, a little color!

Tim has bought all sorts of seeds and started some in the kitchen.  I used to start seeds some 20 years ago, but I've never had any luck moving them into the garden.  So I think it is pointless.  But he's got the kitchen counter covered in seedlings... we can't put them any where else or the German Shepherd Puppy will get a hold of them.  As it is she destroyed a house plant today. Dirt and roots everyplace...

I put in white onion seeds but we had red onion starters so I put some of those in too... but I hate it when you open it up and there are 6 useless moldy ones. Grrr... Since we get gift cards to Home Depot through our AmEx we shop at their garden center - But it seems that you can't be sure of the quality.  Like fruit plants, the kids want blueberries and grapes and apple trees - I'd rather buy from a grower than from a big box place.  Sure, the grower's trees are $10 more, but they are usually guaranteed as well.

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new raised beds

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Home Depot Starter Onions

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not so good starter onions

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ready to grow!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

seriously? oh, and kudos to apple and splash

Today I sent the follow email to my husband and I titled it "Why your life should be a reality t.v. show"

episode 1,882:

"I think my phone just flew off my car"

your wife was driving home from fetching ballerina, after picking up the softball player at the game that didn't happen, and while on 199 something flipped up off the dash and hit the windshield and flew over your wife's head.

she looked at the softball player and said "I think my phone just flipped over the car?!?"
as she doesn't remember placing the phone on the top of the car, this surprised her.

She pulled over, got out of the car and walked back to the on ramp but cannot find her phone.

She's going out now to look again.

Seriously, the softball game got canceled and I picked up my player, and then fetch M from ballet and was on my way home and at 55 miles per hour my phone flipped off of my car.  I do not remember putting it on my car...

and then I did go back out (muttering to St. Anthony)
and I did find it
and it works
and there is a scuff mark on one corner of the case.

This is so my life!  I mean, if you know me you are just nodding your head and saying "of course that would happen to you..."

That is a well made iphone case.  If you need an iphone case I would suggest looking at a splash case.  That phone left my car at 55 mph (cause of course I don't speed, ever [yes I'm pulling your leg]) and must have bounced at least once, and I found it, face up, on the shoulder by the left lane... and it looks fine.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring is Coming

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photo is from May 2012, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Outdoor Wednesday - Nellysford Virginia

When we leave Wintergreen Resort we drive to 151 via Beech Grove Rd.  We always pass this little shack on the side of the road.  I don't know if it is a fishing shack, you can just barely see the creek on the other side, or if it was a produce stand, or what it is.

I've passed it several times and wanted to stop and take a picture.  So this Saturday I did. The light was on the wrong side of the things - so I'll have to try again - but for now:

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Nellysford, Virginia photo 2013-03-09112014_zpsd5b0d92b.jpg

I'm linking this post to A Southern Daydreamer's Outdoor Wednesday

March Snow

Well that was some snow storm!  In Williamsburg we had rain- but Tim (my husband) took K (my oldest) to Wintergreen Wednesday night - there they tuned skis and crossed their fingers for clear roads in the morning.  Thursday morning K met her ski coaches at the Charlottesville train station and boarded the train for Boston.  From Boston they took a bus to Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire, for the East Coast High School Champs (alpine ski racing.)
Virginians pretty much just go and try to make it through the course and have a good "showing."  It is pretty hard for our kids to compete at the level those northern kids do - we just don't get enough time on the snow.
But K had a great time -

Ironically, her home mountain had a ton of snow.

I arrived on Friday.  I have never seen this much snow in Wintergreen.

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Ski house- looking like a ski house

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View from the house

Thalia, in snow, March 2013 photo 2013-03-09083717_zpscc9810ac.jpg
such a puppy

Skier - mad cause she got 3rd! photo 2013-03-10114040_zps99edaf81.jpg
mad cause she took 3rd
Saturday was the last day of practice for the Wintergreen Development Ski Team, and Sunday they had a race. MLyons got moved to the 10 and under group a few weekends ago so she could compete at in a race hosted at Wintergreen. To her dismay, they left her in that category this weekend. She placed 3rd. If she'd been in the 8 and unders she would have placed 1st. She's just a *little* competitive.

Snow Baby photo 2013-03-10115517_zpsc15ac65c.jpg

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Living with Conviction is a PAIN!

So - I gave up chocolate last fall when I somehow stumbled across a post about child slavery in the chocolate industry - and dear god - this has been researched and documented by the BBC.  Okay, the BBC.  They are usually pretty good about getting their facts straight.  So I, lover of peanut M&M's, have not had chocolate outside of the occasional (and not always easy to find) Fair Trade bar, since.  Not one M&M, not one Reeses Peanut butter cup.

Thank goodness Costco carried Fair Trade coffee or I'd need medication.

And now I am faced with the challenge of keeping 6 growing kids in clothes that are ethically sourced. Thankfully the youngest lives out of hand-me-downs from friends.  I feel completely guilt free in accepted already purchased clothing.  However that leaves 5.  As the 10 year old boy is taller than the 12 year old boy and *destroys* everything (I am sure there is an actually psychology study there but...) there is no handing down between children 2 and 3.  The oldest daughter is closing in on 15 and doesn't weigh 100 punds yet and fits in size 0 - the 8 year daughter is a more muscular build and there is no point in saving the size 0 - and the 6 year old's birth mother was 5 feet tall.  She will never fit properly into either of the other girl's clothes.  So I save fancy dresses, and school jumpers but that is about it.  So yes - 5 kids - 5 different clothing needs.  I used to cash in American Express Points (when your husband travels every week, and buys his plane ticket with his AmEx, and his rental car, and his hotel rooms, and his meals for 4 days, and... it adds up) for gift cards at GAP and Lands Ends.  Perfect for school uniforms.  And now that Gap owns Piperlime and Banana Republic, the high schooler was covered too.  But now I have to consider wether or not what I'm putting on my children is ruining water in another part of the world, or adding to smog in China (which creeps across the ocean to Alaska and California) or... [previous posts in regards to reading "Overdressed" by Elizabeth Cline, Helen Hunt, The After Life of Cheap Clothes, Over-dressed )

No cheap t-shirts made by dumping dye into rivers...

So here we are:

For Easter I bought Chocolate Bunnies from Mama Ganache.  Fair Trade. Organic. And the website says call them, they'll help you with shipping options if they can.  So I did call them.  I explained that I needed the box of 6 because that is a better price than buying 6 individual bunnies but that I was trying to reduce shipping, so they worked it out that they'll send me 6 bunnies (not in a boxed set) so they'll fit into the smallest shipping box and I'll get the lowest shipping rate... I think I like these people.

I patronize the newly renamed Artisan Handbags and Accessories.

But where to buy clothes?
Elizabeth Cline offers a few suggestions:
EPIC (Echo Park Independent Co-op)
Alta Gracia
Karen Kane produces some 80% of its garments in Los Angeles.
Single produces 90% of its garments in Los Angeles:
L.A.'s Single brand can turn around 800 silk print dresses for Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor in as little as two weeks, now that 90% of its production is done at home. "We recently brought more of our production back from China," said Galina Sobolev, designer-founder of the $15-million brand. "The price difference was only about a dollar per [dress], and the quality control and timing were much better. We're also providing jobs and keeping domestic factories working." from LA Times (Admittedly, in 2012 there are also articles to be found about sweatshop conditions in L.A.)

Elizabeth Cline visited Alta Gracia and spoke with people who did the sewing.  She noted this company for being a good place to work.  They pay well (3 times the minimum wage).  Employees can form a union. The Workers Rights Consortium monitors the factory.

A quick google search on Fair Trade clothes sends me to Maggie's organics. And Fair Indigo. Fair Trade USA

But I'm still struggling with the kids clothes part of this equation.  I know one answer is to sew them myself.  I can sew, I sew Halloween costumes, but I am not sure I'm up to the task of keeping 6 kids dressed.

And shoes.  Where are we supposed to buy shoes?
well, I googled "fair trade shoes" and what do you know?  For the price of a very popular brand at the moment, you can buy a fair trade, sustainable shoe at Sole Rebels other Fair Trade options include Safa, Blackspot shoes but so far nothing specifically for my children.
Cherry Tree photo IMG_1239_zps16be6833.jpg
Cherry Blossoms in my front yard, spring 2012

Spring storms get me. Actually, spring storms in Virginia get me. The storm yesterday left "between 2 and 3 feet of snow" at the ski house my husband said. But here it rained. It is just about freezing outside and rainy. That kind of cold gets into your bones as they say, and it is hard to shake. So... I made cheesecake. And filled up the bird feeder and scattered extra in the empty flower box on the deck for the squirrels. Made coffee. Sat by the window and watched birds, chickadees, cardinals, tufted tit mouse, a red headed wood pecker,and others. Then I went a dug out one of Grandma French's trashy novels. Some are better than others. I think I lost a few brain cells.  But today it is sunny again.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Grandma's Dishes at the Ski House

Last week I posted my blog to FB and from there Rusi showed the photos of Grandma French's furniture in my ski house - to her - and she was delighted.  So I'm adding some more;

Grandma's dishes were in the Williamsburg house - when I met her grandson he was living in the house (and it was top to bottom pink btw- pink rugs, floral patterned couches & love seat, pink vertical blinds) and these were the dishes in that house.  Well after we married we bought that house and lived in it until our 4th child was born and then we moved out in search of more bedrooms.

So these dishes are nostalgic not only for Tim but for me too.  These are Grandma's Japanese Stoneware pieces.  The back says "Hearthside, Garden Festival, Prairie Flowers"

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Grandma's Japanese stone ware

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He just needs HP sauce

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my own little Tap- Tap

The Sardine Can or Best Laid Plans

This week Tim said something about wanting to take Thalia to the mountain house on Thursday night.  Tim is working hard to become a dog person, but he is not a dog person.  He is the kind of dad that would starve a quiet child... he gets busy and focused and if you don't whine at him he doesn't remember that normal people eat 3 to 5 times a day.  So I said no.  And then completely out of character he asked if he could take Kahn Sol.  That is an automatic "no."  Kahn Sol is my dog.  He and I stick together and I get very upset whenever I can't take him with me on a trip.  Not happening.

Thursday night got dicey on the home front so instead Tim left early Friday morning - wanting to at least have time to tune skis before the middle two went to their championship races this weekend.

He took the Sprinter.  One person, almost no luggage, 12 passenger van.  If I'd known he was going to do that I might have let him take a dog. Or a kid.  He did very sweetly move car seats and make sure they were secure.  In doing so he blocked the car seat that moves to allow the back row into the back row seats.  Sometimes I think my life should be a reality show.  So - We put the back seats down flat, got the 105 lb lab into the back, pulled up the two seats that are one bench, got the dog to sit there, pulled up the other seat and then my oldest boys climbed in from the back over the seat.  Luggage in the well.  I won't put dogs in the well for the same reason I won't ride in the well.  You'll get car sick and it isn't comfortable, plus I had luggage. (and even so we forgot the sleeping bags - every week there is something my husband wants me to remember and every week I forget.  Maybe in that big ol' van there was room for sleeping bags?)

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middle row

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back row, that is a lab sitting on Tiger's lap, and the puppy's behind trying to find a spot... 
So - for the sake of posterity - I felt the need to record this.
When my kids are telling their kids that they had to stuff themselves into a car and fight the dogs for room after walking both ways in 2 feet of snow barefoot- they can at least prove the car & dog part of that story.

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Thalia still trying to get comfy

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riding shotgun to softball practice
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trying to share the front seat
Ever been to Haiti and ridden on one of those crazy public transportation vehicles?  They are called "Tap Taps" everybody crams in, with goats and chickens and stuff hanging out the window, and you hold on for dear life and fly along a muddy street filled with pot holes while the driver keeps his hand on the horn to warn pedestrians and bicyclists that you are coming.

Well - this isn't *that* intense.  I mean, we have seat belts, and there weren't any chickens, and I followed the speed limit and didn't threaten the lives of any pedestrians... but I think I ought to go ahead and paint the car... (Tim would die!)

And before you call CPS just remember what ya'll did to Romney for putting his dog on the roof...