Just capturing a delightful weekend before we start up another one…
With the amazing unseasonable weather going down in New England at the moment, we were finally forced to install the screens on the new windows in the addition. This meant– in addition to the lovely cross breeze and bug-free enjoyment of frog sounds at night– that there was a large amount of spare cardboard laying about.
So of course, we now have a Transmogrifier.
Pro tip: you can dramatically improve the yardwork participation rate among 8y.o. males if you creatively reframe the exercise as a gamified combat simulation.
"Sir! Our robot laser rakes have completely wiped out all nano-Migs in this sector!"
"Carry on, Soldier."
…and so that mountain of leaves that was keeping the new grass from sprouting in the backyard– where everything got dug up to put in the well and ground lines for the geothermal system– has been forcibly relocated to another quadrant.
It was 75 degrees yesterday. What. The. Hell. This time last year the snowdrifts were taller than I am.
A light dusting of snow last night led to spending the morning out doors with Calvin. After failing to make a snowman– not near enough snow and way too much mud, it was more of a mudman or a golem– and a sloshy snowball fight, I had to dissuade him from trying to build a treehouse from scrap iron and wood he found in the meadow. Industrious, this one. We will have a treehouse at some point, it's inevitable, but I would prefer not to try to drive nails into frozen Maple, kthxbuddy? He agreed!
Next we headed down to the beach. Picked up a bunch of glass, cans, and other tidal detritus, then hopped to the other side of the bridge for some winter bouldering. This is the route Calvin walks on the way home from the bus every day and he absolutely schooled me in a game of "don't touch the ground, only the rocks." Along the way he was pointing out rock stack sculptures that survived the whole winter, various ice-formations that looked like rockets or dragons, the sticks in the water that he is finally convinced are NOT Champ…it was awesome. "On the other side of those stairs is level THREE! The rocks are taller and pointier and slipperier."
Ever since he was born, this has been the greatest gift of all: seeing the world through his eyes. There is indeed treasure everywhere.
Home now for lunch, more tabla practice, and some science experiments.
Calvin has commandeered the stereo. He has borrowed his sister's little "disco ball" lightshow toy, you know, the base with plastic spinning globe that has a weak lamp inside and several colored windows on the ball. He has taken a standard flashlight, balanced it on one end, and placed another hollow ball-with-circular-cutouts on it, to make a static lighting backdrop for the swirling colors. He is cranking tunes loud, dancing, running over to play the djembe and, simultaneously, getting himself ready for bed.
He runs into the dining room shortly thereafter, grinning, and declares that he has invented "The dance of the Pajamazons."
For reference, here is his playlist this evening: Continue reading
6 inches overnight and coming down in big wet flakes still. Calvin and Rose were out making muddy snowmen and partial igloos all morning but have retreated for the comforts of the couch. This afternoon: the Muppet Movie. Hell yes.
Tonight was not promising early on, as light low clouds obscured everything. But a steady wind was blowing, so Calvin and I decided to wait it out. Rose stayed inside with mama playing Chutes and Ladders, her choice. While we were waiting Leroy Bear came bounding out from the trees and we let him inside; a good thing too, as we heard coyotes howling not long after and I do worry sometimes about leaving him outside too late.
Eventually the clouds blew past, or most of them at least, and we were able to take a gander. We switched from the 15mm to 12mm Plossel eyepiece tonight and even with some lingering high faint clouds the results were spectacular. We stared at the moon for a while again, then turned to Jupiter and this time, after quite a lot of fiddling with the focus, we were able to see the horizontal bands of the great cloud storms. Still no red spot; it didn't transit until 10pm or so this evening. Here's Calvin taking it in (click twice to embiggenate), during which, we had this conversation: "Calvin, can you see the bands?" "Ohhhhh yeah…yep…yep, I sure can." After five or six more turns, he was slightly less amazed…but only slightly!
Today after far too much delay we had a fella come by with his tractor and brush hog the meadow. We meant to get to it in the Spring, then over the Summer, but one thing led to another and it never seemed like a good time. Then, as you may have heard, it got crazy wet around here for a few weeks and there was no point. But it's been dry long enough we figured we'd better get to it or the job would be much worse.
…if you are young.
Over dinner last night we got to talking about Sunspots, the solar cycle, aurorae, and the like. Calvin and Rose asked to go outside and look for some, even though I was pretty sure– you *were* aware of spaceweather.com, right?– that there were no recent flares headed our way. But in between dinner and bedtime, amidst much scrambling and bundling in gloves and hats and coats, we went out. Because I am so SMRT, I put the AstroScan out about 20 minutes ahead of time so it would be temperature adjusted. Continue reading
[The Scene:] Yesterday, Calvin had a play date that kept him out until almost 5:30, which around here is actually nighttime this time of the year. As he was coming home we were in the middle of the third snow flurry of the year.
He comes in the door yelling, "Papa, come outside with me and see! It's SO BEAUTIFUL!"
So how do you resist that? I throw on a coat, hat, gloves, and walk out the back porch door. I don't see him at first, then from my right he says "Come stand right here, this is the good spot."
He's backed up to the garage doors, looking up at an angle. The moon is about 80% full and is only slightly occluded behind thin clouds. With the lake so close we get a steady but unpredictable wind that flows (sometimes, it howls) around the house and creates all manner of swirling eddies. Tonight it is spilling around both sides of the garage and as the snow falls through the pale moonlight, it spirals to earth in tight rings, the ones to our left turning one way, to our right turning the other. Tiny snowflakes fall straight down but the bigger ones are all spinning around and colliding. Calvin is almost reverent. "See? It's beautiful."
I stick my tongue out. Calvin mimics me and starts laughing, running around chasing the bigger snowflakes and cracking himself up. I hear a small whine and look down, and Ellie is wagging furiously with her ears pulled back in that "OH PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEASE" way. It occurs to me that we haven't really been outside with her in a few days and she must have a severe case of doggie cabin fever. So I reach into the porch and grab her frisbee. As soon as she sees me holding it, she turns into crazy dog, running madly in circles, digging her nose into the snow to throw it into the air. She comes back and sits without my asking, a huge grin on her face. We don't play fetch. We play, Throw->Chase the dog->clever subterfuge to make her drop the preferred toy and chase a stick or something->repeat. This is slightly more exciting than usual in the icy dark but somehow we all keep our feet and run madly about for 15 minutes or so. Right about the time I am getting winded, the snow pauses for a second and A. calls for dinner. Just so.
Today was a busy and eventful day for Calvin:
1. After breakfast, he walked to the playground at the town beach, about a 50 yard stroll along the road through the single lane covered bridge. On the way, I saw him stop, step aside, and wave to the truck he let pass, before dashing off towards the monkey bars.
2. He saw a dead toad with its brains all kerflooey at the playground, so he had to run back and tell everyone about it. Rose insisted on seeing it, and we let Calvin and Rose go off on their toad-spotting adventure alone. They returned with a jogger/neighbor in tow, having made friends along the way back. I think the neighbor was worried about them, but we made introductions all proper like and let her know that the excursion was approved, nay, encouraged. Then Ellie came out to meet the neighbor and we spent the next 20 minutes corralling her.
3. He got a new bike, 6 speeds with no coaster brake, which he proceeded to ride quite a bit out of sight and back a few times.
and 4. most momentously, he jumped off the beach dock with a life-jacket and mask on, swam the 20 yards to the floating dock and back a few times, and THEN decided to shed his mask, life-jacket, and water shoes and strike out swimming for the dock for real. He ran out of juice about halfway there and I had to tow him there and back, but the gumption to start out in the first place is the bit that had been lacking throughout his recent swim lessons. A little more practice and I'll finally feel a little more at ease with him in the water.
There was also much fairy house building with Nina, and a canoe ride/fishing trip (Calvin rode, Nina and I fished but no luck). Now, he sleeps a deep, DEEP sleep
So it's a little too early in the day to break a new set of glowsticks for the kiddies, so I put on Joan Jett.
No, wait, work with me here a minute.
So I put on Joan Jett, or rather I put on Calvin's iPod playlist, to which I have just added Joan Jett, and because the iPod shuffle algorithm is shadowy and mysterious, it pulls out "I Love Rock and Roll" first up. It should here be noted that when A. is away, it gets kind of loud around here.
It takes all of 3 chords before both of the little ones are rocking out in their own way. Calvin is trying to keep his feet in the same place and see how far he can get his hips from his hands without falling over. Rose is hopping around like a frog on all fours and wiggling her butt in the air with no sense of rhythm whatsoever.
Alas, an elbow hits a nose moments later and the spell is broken. But just for a minute there, heart asplode.
We're at a dual birthday party yesterday, brother and sister aged 7 and 1, with a crowd spanning that entire age range as all siblings were invited. It is a Star Wars themed party and among other festivities there is a Death Star pinata. After much fruitless bashing– really, when was the last time you saw a pinata actually burst open as designed?– one of the Jedi masters "Used the Force" and tore the thing open.
Chaos ensues. And there, in the middle of the scrum, Rose is methodically, carefully, reaching in, under, and around the teeming throng to collect a small bag full of ONLY red candy.(*)
(*) Red is her favorite color by an infinite margin. (**)
(**)Cherry nerds, Strawberry Laffy Taffy, red lollipops, and KitKats, if you must know.
Tonight we added additional characters to the bedtime story routine. As you may recall, we already had:
- Simon, the brave man (Perhaps a spy. Has gadgets. Smells of old leather).
- Iceblock, the whale (Baleen. Gigantic migratory route. Occasionally, can fly (a la Dirigible Behemothaur).)
- George, the monkey (Curious. Always seems to be in some sort of trouble. Midget repellent.)
- Bobo, the Penguin (Comic relief. Jollier than a bucket of leprechauns. Does not want to return to Hoboken.)
Now we must add:
- Lucky, the cat (For those occasions requiring a character who can't be bothered to advance the plot).
- Grit, the cabbage (Somewhat Flumpy (from the heat (from being carried in the brave man's pocket)). Apparently, destined to die/wilt/be consumed in every episode, like Kenny/Poster Nutbag. Bit of a grouch, and his speech is quite muffled (the pocket, again).)
- Tommy, the youthful but vigilant defender of the garden.
- Sally, the unfortunately underwritten Mary Sue.
Those last two, whose names are variable but whose roles are fixed, joined the party and have been incorporated into the canon after last night, when Rose brought a tear of joy to my eye by requesting the Slug's tale. I asked, which Slug's tale? and she says "the one where they laugh their slimy laugh, huh-huHHH, huh-huHHH, huh-HUHHH, and keep on eating the juicy lettuces." Who's got two thumbs and a 4 year old who asks for a recitation of Orb samples at bedtime? ME!
A final tip: with 4-6 year olds, apparently, ANY story is hysterical if told in a Mortimer Snerd voice. If you can get three or more Mortimers in the same story, plus maybe a genial wino or something, that's comedy gold. Hence, I now must occasionally tell the tail of the Three Billy Goats Dumb and the Tramp in the Alley.
Last night, during the "funny stuff" part of bedtime tuck-in, in a fit of brainlock, I ALMOST told Calvin and Rosie the story of Charlie the Unicorn. I recovered in time to tell a story about a different unicorn and a different candy mountain, with no gruesome punchline. but I DID keep the magical leopluradon.
Then we went back to the tales of Bobo the Penguin, Iceblock the Whale, George the Monkey, and Simon the Brave Man. and so to bed.
Sometime around Halloween, Calvin piped up at dinner and said, "I want to learn how to read." When probed for the source of his sudden interest, he replied that "You need to know how to read to be able to use an iPod!"
The end justifies the means, right? pulled out the workbooks we used with Nina and they started working through them at bedtime. Calvin being Calvin, attention-span was an issue, but by the same token his glee at figuring out words and phonics and so forth lit up the room. There was a brief moment of iPod touch lust (over a lava lamp game, actually), but in a subsequent pillow conversation Calvin declared that it was all up to Santa which version he got and he mostly wanted to play his songs over and over again. Shortly thereafter, he read about half of _Go Dog, Go_ to me, including working out about 10 new words all on his own. Santa was satisfied, and Calvin received the same iPod Nano 4g that his father and sister own.
and what did he want to listen to?