Monday, March 31, 2008

Tiger Scout boat races

Ethan was supposed to put together and decorate a little wooden boat for Tiger Scouts. It turned out to be a last minute thing that Michael ended up doing since we didn't get the kit until the day before. He tested it in a bucket of water, but it wouldn't stay upright. He could have fixed the balance given more time to work on it.

Ethan won third place in the boat races (out of three) and got another award for ...actually I'm not sure what...probably decorating (which didn't actually happen). Ethan was very excited to get trophies, but I'm not sure I like the idea of rewarding someone just for showing up. Their frail little egos...everybody's a winner.... BLAH! How about actually being rewarded for merit and not develop that entitlement mentality that is so prevalent today.

Maybe I'm being a little harsh...after all he's only six, and it is assumed that he built it himself. I just think that if the trend continues he will realize that these kinds of trophies and awards are really quite meaningless since no effort on his part was actually required to get them. I suppose this is more of an indictment of my allowing Daddy to do it for him. I would just like him to still have motivation to achieve something truly worthwhile despite all the other superfluous rah-rah "you're a winner no matter what" garbage. Ayn Rand is rolling in her grave.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

First time to Explorit

I took the kids to Explorit for the first time. We haven't been before this because they usually don't open until 2 pm. Since it was a holiday they opened at 1pm, so we made the trip.

There was a lot of new stuff to try out and a few regular stuff from other places. Hunter's favorite was the race car track that you got to build along a wall. The trick was to keep the car on the track, but get it going as fast as possible. A lesson in physics to be sure...but it will be a while before they crunch any equations. The exposure to this sort of thing is excellent.

They had a craft room that was similar to the one in Stockton, but not as good. You were supposed to build something that would slow a marble down when dropped from shoulder height. Hunter worked on a wall mounted track that someone started and then left. Ethan wasn't interested in the project, so he built a boat out of recycled materials and lots of tape.

Another area had specific things you could build like a parachute or a helicopter with detailed instructions and pictures to follow along.

One of my favorites was a gear wall that had all sizes of different gears that were held to a metal wall with magnets. This design is so much better than the peg board because the arrangements are infinite. Elle liked to watch how they all turned at once when she cranked the one handle.

Something completely unique about this children's museum was their wet lab. Yes, they had a chemistry lab. I was in heaven! They had a couple of experiments with bromethyl blue which showed how it changed colors when you added vinegar or blew your breath into it. They had modified the straws to make sure the kids could blow but not suck any of the solution up and drink it. Hunter thought the straws were broken so he kept on opening one after another before I explained that they were supposed to be that way.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Suberbs go Pastoral

Our little city has a very green approach to land maintenance. They've hired a farmer and his herd of goats to eat down all the long grasses and brush.

I was headed up the hill when I was stopped by a very unofficial looking farmer man out in the middle of the street. I couldn't understand why he was stopping traffic and then all of a sudden HUNDREDS of goats came running down the street. I got my camera out as quickly as I could.

Having goats run down the street and around the neighborhood gives our town a very pastoral feel to it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Belated Easter

Since all the kids had been sick I didn't have time to prepare for Easter morning. So...we had a belated Easter. Early on Monday morning I ran down to the store and bought the last Easter baskets at both Raley's and half off!!! The kids didn't mind that they got their baskets a day late. I think that we might just continue that tradition so the Easter bunny gets a huge price break and Easter Sunday can focus on the real reason we're celebrating.

Although we do participate in Easter bunny, Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy traditions the kids understand that it's pretend, but still fun to play. I believe if you tell a child that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real and then teach them about God and Jesus, it creates a sense of confusion that is hard to overcome when they learn that their innocent childhood faith in make-believe was founded on a lie.

After Ethan lost his first tooth he came up to me and whispered, "I know who the tooth fairy is!.....YOU!" I whispered back to him, "Shhh...don't tell, OK?"

It's more fun to pretend when you have a firm understanding of reality and truth.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Nasty flu

We just got over the whole fever thing just in time to get a really nasty case of the flu. Ethan got it first with simultaneous throwing up and diarrhea. He had to wear diapers just to contain the mess. Unfortunately Elle and Hunter both wanted some of his Gatorade, so they drank from his sippie-cup and promptly got the same thing. While they were sick we kept the kids downstairs on puddle pads and in front of the garbage can so they'd be near us at night. Elle slept in our bed. Hunter slept on the couch and Michael slept out with him to assist with the midnight barfing. Elle fell asleep half on and half off the couch. Poor baby!

Ethan and Elle recovered fairly quickly, but Hunter couldn't stop throwing up. I could tell that he was really dehydrated and when I noticed that he hadn't gone potty in well over a day, the doctor had us come in. We were at the hospital for 4 hours while they pumped him full of IV fluids. He slept through most of it. After the first round he was feeling better and wanted something to eat. They brought him some juice and applesauce, but he promptly threw it up. After the second round of IV fluids they let us go home but gave us some medicine to help him stop throwing up. I think he just needed some fluid to get a foothold onto healthy again.
The day after his IV recovery was his friend Denver's birthday party. He was just barely feeling better so I kept him home. When he realized he was missing the party he cried that he wanted to go. We made up for it later.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Unbelievable Medicine

A guy's brother got his finger cut off. The guy sent his brother some extracellular matrix powder and his finger regenerated in 4 weeks.... fingernail and all.

Normally I would just pass a story like this off as a hoax, except the person reporting the story is Charles Osgood.

There will be more on this story on his TV show Sunday morning.

Charles Osgood
You can listen for the story on KCBS during The Osgood Files or click on the link and hear the archive.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

School and Children's Museum of Vegas

The second day of the Con-Ag Expo, I wasn't all that interested, but I did want to go to a local LDS private school that Karen told me about; American Heritage. The school was based on the model in American Fork.

I called one of Karen's friends who has a child enrolled to ask her about how she liked it and what she liked most. It was interesting to get her feedback, because a lot of the positives for her were basic things that are already in the model for Bridges Academy.

Karen and Mathew went with me to visit the school. I liked that they blended Biblical and secular history and made an understanding, appreciation and love of America's founding an important part of the curriculum. They were operating out of a temporary location in a strip mall, but given their sparse circumstances I think there was still magic in the classroom. I got a good overview of their approach as I stepped into each classroom. One classroom was quoting Shakespeare, one classroom was discussing Christ's admonition to be as "wise as serpents, but as harmless as doves" and the contrast between Satan and the Holy Spirit. One classroom was going over US History, anther working on math. In their main auditorium they had booths set up for their science fair. We spent about an hour looking around and I was taking pictures like mad (with permission from the Principle, of course). He showed us a short video from the American Fork school. It was impressive. After it was over I turned to Karen and she had tears in her eyes. She said that I should move there so I could send my kids.

After the school we went to the Lied Discovery Children's Museum. It was rated in the top 50 in the US, so I was excited to visit. I took about 200 pictures. You gotta love digital cameras! There were a lot of experiments that were exactly like ones at the Exploritorium. My favorites were the grocery store, the green screen, the under five area, and the ball movers.
Ethan especially liked the green screen. He kept going back to it and playing soccer, or volleyball or hockey. Karen was surprised that they're weren't more people there. She said that usually when they go the place is packed with children from field trips.

We stayed until about 2 o'clock until the guys called to go home. We left for home after that and didn't get home until about 12:30 am. I think it was better for Ethan, since he got to sleep most of the way.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A day at the Con-Ag Expo

A big reason that we took Ethan with us was so that Grandma wouldn't feel over -whelmed by all three children, plus we figured that Ethan would be the best behaved at the Expo. We picked up our name tags the day before, which turned out to be a smart move because the line to get them the first day was a several hour wait. We got to the door and were informed by the guard that, "The young man needs a tag."

"I called beforehand and was told 17 and under didn't need a ticket."

"I'm sorry. I can't let him in without a tag"

He's six. Are you serious!!?!? We went over to an official booth that didn't have a line and told the woman the problem. She saw that I was pregnant, and we were both obviously just tagging along with Daddy. She took us into the next room with another line and brought us to the front. She explained to the other lady what the problem was and then as she was leaving she whispered to me, "I just saved you two hours." I thanked her profusely, and Ethan got his official tag (no, we didn't have to buy a ticket).

I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was A LOT of construction stuff. I'm interested in it only because it's what Michael's interested in. As it was, I got my fill of construction in the first half of the day. Ethan wore out pretty quick with the walking and walking and walking.

We went and had lunch in the Hilton Buffet, which was...ok. We met up with Russ and Michael who gave me the keys to go home. Ethan asked if he could play one of the games. So, I explained to him about the age limits, laws of probability and how casinos make all their money.

Since the convention was going on parking wasn't free unless you were a guest at the Hilton or saw the Star Trek thing. I figured, "Hey, tickets can't be more than $30." I took Ethan over to where it was and asked for the ticket prices. $35 for a child and $45 for an adult...oh and pregnant women can't go on... and children can't go on unaccompanied. Right. Like I would have paid that much, even with $30 off. That's RIDICULOUS!

Michael had the car checked into the Vallet and I didn't have any cash to give him a tip. I felt a little awkward not giving him anything, so I gave him my certificate for a 1 lb box of See's candies that's been in my purse for the last year and a half. He seemed genuinely grateful. I was just relieved.

Unfortunately I left my GPS at Karen's house so I didn't know how to get back. I called Karen, who gave me directions like I actually knew how to follow them. I feel pretty competent in many areas but when it comes to directions I am a complete RETARD! I thanked Karen, but then called Michael who stayed on the phone with me until he got me all the way to her house. Mental note: do not leave home without GPS. That Garmin GPS and Google raise my IQ by several points. I guess it's OK to be reminded of my actual capacities every once in a while. Eeek!

My nephew Jared had a Chemistry project due Friday that he asked me to help him on. I started thinking of what we could do....baking soda volcanoes are so overdone. He wanted me to show him how to make Thermite. I looked at a recipe online. It was fairly simple, but decided that if he can't figure it's probably better off for everyone.

I bought a red cabbage for the pH experiment that I did with Ethan a few months ago. We took pictures for his report. He thought it was pretty cool as the purple liquid changed colors, but still wanted to blow something up.

  • Boil the snot (that's a technical term, of course) out of a red cabbage and drain off the purple liquid. The cabbage can be eaten.
  • Acids turn the solution pink (lemon juice, vinegar)
  • Bases turn the solution blue or green (milk of magnesia, baking soda)
  • Neutral solutions remain purple (milk, water)
  • For added interest, add base to pink solution or acid to blue/green solution.
    • If balanced neutral, solution will return to purple
    • If more of acid/base added than to bring solution to neutral, color will change to opposite color

Monday, March 10, 2008

The fanciest outdoor store EVER!

We headed out to Las Vegas for the Con-Ag Expo. It's only held every three years so Michael made a management decision to go. Ethan and I went with him along with Russ, another Heavy Equipment contractor friend of Michael's. We left at 5am and pulled into Vegas at about 2pm. We stopped at the Bass Pro Shop on our way to Karen's house. They had the most impressive outdoor store I have EVER seen, WOW! They had taxidermied animals in realistic poses including a pride of lions, a cougar attacking a deer, a leopard, a family of bears trying to get into a camper. The walls were covered with mounted heads of every kind of horned type animal imaginable.

I'm not opposed to hunting. But the scale of this display seemed over the top for me.

They also had an indoor waterfall with carp, ducks, turtles and a sturgeon. Ethan was impressed by the fish tank to be rivaled only by something from Monterey Bay Aquarium. I wondered how they could pay for such extravagance until I found that the other half of the store was a casino. Figures.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Maytag stinks!

We've been having an ongoing problem with our washing machine. Fortunately we've got the Sears protection plan, because by now for all the times these guys have been out to fix the dumb thing, we probably would have spent enough to buy a new one. We may be getting one anyway....

Every time a repair guy comes, it's always a different person and they tell me the same thing. "Ya, we've seen a LOT of problems with these Maytag washers." Great. I wish I would have known that before we bought it.

We've had just about everything replaced on this thing. They've been out AT LEAST 6 times in the last year and a half. The most reoccurring problem has been that the high speed spin doesn't work, so the clothes come out dripping wet with soap bubbles still visible. At one point it would cycle from 9 minutes down to 6 minutes and then pop back up to 9 minutes. It would do this for hours until I realized what was happening and stopped it.

So this latest "repair" does in fact go into the high speed spin, but I think the internal drum is off balance because when I came out to get the laundry out the washer had shimmied across the floor as far as the hoses would let it "walk".

Fortunately Sears has a rule that if your machine has four breakdowns within a 12 month period they'll replace it. This last repair put us over the top, but I was going to wait to see what would happen before making a claim.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Beautiful day

After Hunter's preschool on Wednesday we had Denver come over for a play date. I gave everyone Nutella and Strawberry jelly sandwiches on homemade bread and let them eat on the porch with the big glass doors open to the outside. What a wonderful picnic! After they were done I let them each have a Gatorade popsicle we froze in some old Tupperware molds. They chalked in the driveway, which turned into throwing smaller pieces into the street and watching cars smash them to powder. I had them trace the outline of the fence shadow so they could watch how the sun moved across the sky. (Yes, I know that's not technically accurate, but the point is that there is movement by heavenly bodies).
I took them down to the beach in front of the house and let them play in the water. They took socks, shoes and pants off and I warned them not to go so deep as to get anything else wet. They're kids, so of course they pushed the limits. The water was SO calm, it was perfect for letting them run through. We've never done anything like this before, so the kids were reveling in the novelty of it all. If you look close you can see Denver's six-pack. According to his mom, he watches Sporticus a lot which has developed his physical prowess.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Scary Fever

I'm not quite sure where they might have picked it up, but both Elle and Ethan started feeling sick on Saturday. Elle fell asleep on the couch and Michael took her in to our bedroom so she would be more comfortable. He checked on her a while later and was shocked to discover that she was burning up with a temperature of 104.7. I called the doctor who advised us to go to the Emergency Room right away. I asked if it would be OK to go into the minor injury clinic, because experience has proven that a trip to the ER is rarely ever treated like an emergency. You usually wind up sitting in the waiting room for several hours. They insisted that the ER was the place.


We had given Elle some Tylenol to bring her fever down. She was feeling much better by the time we got there, and I was prepared with plenty of snacks, books and other paraphernalia for a long haul in the waiting room.

Much to my surprise we hadn't been checked in for even five minutes before they called us back. They took her vitals and when they determined she was stable they sent us over to the pediatric department. Elle wasn't happy about the rectal thermometer, but that wasn't going to be the worst of it.

As we were sitting in the Pediatric waiting room Elle looked like there was positively nothing wrong with her. She was her enthusiastic, precocious little self. My mom and I were both concerned that the doctors would dismiss us as second party hypochondriacs.

The doctor suspected a urinary tract infection, so I took Elle to see if she would cooperate on the potty. Unfortunately she kept telling me that it hurt to pee and refused to do it, so the nurses took her into a procedure room and gave her a catheter. We waited outside because we knew she was going to be mad and we wanted her to have some uninvolved party who she would let comfort her after the fact.

Listening outside the door was torture. We stood there and wept as she cried out for Mommy and Gra-ma and told the nurses how much it hurt in her little baby way, crying "owie!" over and over.

What was worst of all was that the test came back negative. All for nothing, and we still don't know what's wrong. However, all the upset started her temperature up again. I could feel her getting hotter by the second as she laid on my chest. We asked the nurse to take her temperature again and it had spiked to 105.8. Well, at least they got in on record and know we're not over reacting.

The doctor came back in and ordered blood work. This time we had to hold her still, and she was mad at us. An hour later the doctor called and told us that everything looked normal, meaning her fever was caused by a virus. "You can't do anything but wait it out. There's a bad virus going around and the fever will probably last about five days, but come back if it goes longer than that."

Can't do anything? That's what you think. I'm not about to sit around and let my daughter get brain damage because her fever is too high and you can't fix it.

Her fever went up again before bed to 102.7, so I gave her some more Motrin and took her to my bed. After she was asleep, I used the F-scan to find and treat the virus, (background: this is the machine Grandma used) . The doctor suspected Ethan had the same virus since he had a fever too (not as high) and wasn't feeling well. The next day I used it on Ethan. That was the end of the fevers.