Friday, October 29, 2010

Spooky Science experiments

Hey kids, at the boys' school they do Spooky Science experiments for an activity at their Halloween parties.  I thought I would share them with you because they are easy and fun!!!  Plus they involve dry ice.  Always a good time.

You will need dry ice (of course) and liquid dish soap.  All can be obtained at the grocery store.  Also, from home, two bowls (about cereal or ice cream sized and with no lip), dish rag, a plastic solo cup and water.  Before beginning you will need to break up the dry ice.  A hammer works great.  Remember not to touch the dry ice because it will burn you. Tongs or gloves work nicely for handling the ice.  (I have to confess, at first I wrote "thongs."  Bwahaha!  Thongs would not do so well...)   Don't drink it either.  Blech!  You may want to lay down a plastic table cloth too...

Experiment 1: soap snake

Fill a plastic cup 1/2 full of warm water
Add a chunk or two of dry ice (ice cube size)

Aaaahh!  Watch it smoke!  That's always cool.  Now add a little bit of liquid soap.  There will be bubbles galore and they will snake out of the cup onto the table.  Weee!  Pop it.  It's ok to touch the bubbles!

Experiment 2: I don't know what it's called but I would call it the Crystal Ball

Fill one bowl 1/2 full of warm water. 
Fill the other bowl with warm water but add liquid soap.
In bowl with NO soap add some dry ice.
Dip your dish rag (we used strips of dish rag) into the soap water.  (We also got better effects when we added some soap to the rag strip.)  Wring it out and get it sudsy.
Stretch the rag strip taut and drag it very slowly across the top of the bowl with the dry ice in it.  Your goal is to create a lid of soap across it, sort of like when you dip the bubble wand into a bottle of bubbles.  It may take a few attempts to get that right.  Once you have watch the gas from the dry ice blow a HUGE bubble!  It looks like a crystal ball!  (I see Auntie Em.  She's...she's clutching her heart!)

See how big it gets and then POP it!

Those were very fun to do and we did them several times.  The kids had a blast and I loved playing in the dry ice.  Since I was room mom I got to take the extra ice home.  Weeeee!
Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Home, salt and light lesson and home again.

A few weeks ago my friend Tiffany back in Texas, called with an idea to surprise her youngest son, Greyson, for his birthday.  He really wanted his buddies, Gabe and Drew at his birthday party.  So Tiff and I worked out a way to fly the boys down for a little birthday magic.  It worked out well since I was hoping to go down that weekend to do some wedding business with my friend, Lauren, who is getting married in March. 

Thursday, Aaron and I picked the boys up from school and dropped the big plan on them.  Gabriel was jumping up and down and so excited and Drew....just sort of stood there picking his lip, trying to process the whole thing.  He had just won an award in the Oral Interpretation Fair at his school.  He was presented with a big blue ribbon and he sat in the car petting it.

"I want to take this with me to always remember my school by.  I wish I could've said goodbye to my friends and my teacher."

"Um...Drew, we are not moving back to Texas.  We are going for a visit.  You will be back at school on Monday!"

The boys are seasoned travellers and always do really well.  As always when we travel, the boys impressed other travellers with their poise and manners.  As we got off the plane Drew calls into the cockpit to the pilot, "Thank you for the ride, my good man!"  This caused bursts of laughter from many.

"Oh!  I'm so glad to be in Texas!  Home at last!"  Gabriel exclaimed.

"Yeah.  Texas is the best country ever!"  Drew bellowed.

A cowboy, 10 gallon hat and all, pat Drew's head and said "You are so right young man."

Ahhh, Texans!  Ha!

The next morning I put the boys in a huge wrapped box that Tiffany had left at my moms.  She told her little guy that the boys had sent a birthday present for him and that it was at their Nana's house.  When he tried to lift the box Drew said, "Hey Buddy!  What are you trying to do?"

This caused Greyson to take a few steps back.  The boys lifted the box and yelled surprise.  Greyson sort of reacted like Drew had...lot's of blank staring.  Finally he said, "I have Super Mario Brothers."  And so we packed the boys up and went to Greyson's house to play Super Mario Brothers. 

We took Gabriel up to his old school for lunch and to surprise his buddy Preston.  Preston is Greyson's big brother and was also having a big weekend.  A few weeks back Preston prayed for Christ to be Lord of his heart.  When Gabriel heard, his first reaction was for hopes of being there when his pal was baptised and so Tiffany arranged for his baptism to be during the weekend we were there!  When Preston saw Gabe he was so thrilled and he gave him a huge hug. 

"Your timing is great!" he said, "There are a lot of really good things happening this weekend!"

Gabriel had lots of old friends come to say hi and ask him if he had moved back and how he liked Colorado.  He said it felt like being a famous person when they are being interviewed.  We stayed for recess.  Gabriel and his Nerd Herd played along the back fence of the recess yard and then we took him and Preston home.

It was so fun to be there.  Surreal for sure.  There were a couple of times where I thought I could just run home to get something that we needed.  I loved those moments of forgetting that I was just a visitor. 

That night my girl, Lesley, picked me up to take me to Austin where my bride-friend lives.  I started to lose my voice a bit from all of the talking.  I had so much to tell her about.  I'm sure Caren's ears were burning because she was in so much of the conversation!  I filled Les in on everyone and everything and she did the same.  It was such a comfort to be in her car again.  We have had so many long talks and trips in that car.  The talking did not stop upon arriving at our destination either.  We were shocked to find it was 4:30 a.m!  Lights had to go out to be rested for the next round of adventure in the morning.

In the morning we went to lunch with Lauren and out for pedicures.  Oh!  I forgot to mention!  Friday, I had an appointment at my old salon to get my eyebrows waxed.  If you are a blog follower, you know that it has been my plight in Colorado, to find a good place to get this much needed maintenance done.  Rachel did my brows.  Everyone at this salon has done them before but Rachel is always my favorite because she trims them.

"I'm so glad I got you today!  You are always the most thorough."

"Well," she says, "you are pretty scraggly this time."  Oh how I laughed!  I love that girl!  After about 10 minutes (I kid you not) of eyebrow maintenance, I snapped a shot and sent it out to Caren. 

So back to the feet.  First off Lauren slightly gasped when she saw them.  It was a good call to get it done.  The pedicurist asked me if I would like the deluxe pedicure.  She said that my heels and toes were pretty dry and calloused.  Really?  I would think hiking in 0% humidity would work wonders on my feet.  I have to say, it was the best pedi I ever had!  My feet looks so pretty and supple.  It felt good to return home as a proper southern woman.

Lauren took us to the venue for the wedding.  I don't want to spoil anything and so I won't be giving details but....GORGEOUS!  This will be a very lovely wedding for a very lovely lady.  I hear the groom is alright too. ;)

Back to Magnolia for Preston's baptism.  The baptism was very nice and I got to see even more old friends there!  It was so good to worship next to my dear friend and to celebrate her sons new life!  It was also very good to be back in a pair of high heels.  Yes folks, it was!  And my toes looked so pretty in them...

After the service we picked up our kids and learned that there had been a "technical" problem during their lesson.  Apparently the lesson was on being Salt and Light.  In Gabriel's words, this guy had a big stick with cloth at the end of it.  He dipped it in a chemical and lit it on fire.  He would then put the fire out by putting it in his mouth.  When doing so, a spark flew off and landed in the chemical, catching it on fire.  The fire eater, tried to blow it out but that caused the fire to "splash" on to him.  So then his Sunday shirt was on fire!  He took it off and so part of the classroom was on fire!  The kids were evacuated and it seems that no one got hurt.

"Wow son!  It sounds like that guy was really on fire for Jesus!"  It was scary but it's one of those things that you have to laugh at.  I asked our hosts if next week they planned on some snake handling.

Before leaving we were able to meet up with our old Pizza Night crew.  It was the fastest hour ever but it was so good to see them and their Littles!  After that we changed into our "winter" clothes and headed to the airport. 

The trip was a whirlwind.  I had too short of visits with everyone.  I got to see my sister and meet her man briefly while in Austin.  It was like that all over.  Brief.  Blll.  It was still so good though!  The boys had a great time.  It was so hard to keep it a secret.  We didn't tell anyone for fear that the news would some how slip out to the boys.  Even the night before we were leaving Aaron asked me about our flight. 

"Are you flying somewhere?" Drew had asked.  We covered it to say it was about Lauren's wedding.  Whew.

The flight home was another uneventful one.  As we were taking off Drew said "On to the next adventure!"  And so we are.  We hit the ground running with all that we have to do this week.  Mumford and Sons concert Wed, school Halloween parties Friday, Gorilla 5k Sat, and Halloween party and trick or treating on Sunday.  Good to be home!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Place Like Home

So last week started off pretty rough, with me losing my mind over cheese in the grocery deli.  But pretty much from there on out life became right again!  (Props to Jesus)

Wednesday were parent/teacher conferences and the reports on the boys were glowing.  They are doing well academically and making friends.  Drew has developed a reputation at the school as being such a happy child.  This just cracks me up!  I'm so glad he is Mr. Personality at school.  I wish he would save more of it for home.  Ha!  In truth this week was the first week that I did not hear how much he disliked school, no running back for home at the bus stop and no tears.  SUPERB!

Friday was designated for cleaning the house in preparation for the housewarming party on Saturday.  School was out for teacher inservice and so I enlisted the boys help.  They had great attitudes about cleaning and were very helpful.  A neighbor, who's son is in Drew's class, called and invited the boys over to play for the day.  So wonderful!  The boys were excited to be invited to a friends house and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to really tackle the cleaning with out interruption. 

That evening we took the boys over to Caren's.  She had wrangled in a baby-sitter for us to share so we could go Night Golfing.  Night Golfing is AMAZING!!!  It's a genius fundraiser for the PTA.  You buy into a scramble and are given glow in the dark golf balls.  The flags all have glow sticks on them as well as glow necklaces in the hole.  Players all wear glow necklaces as well so you can see where one another are. 

Caren and I were on a team with our friend Melissa.  We were short a player but lets be serious....we weren't actually players anyway.  Melissa could wail on the ball and better then she thought.  She constantly kept hitting her ball into the team ahead of us.  This had Caren and I in stitches!  That and Melissa's crazy golf cart maneuvers.  Aaron reported being able to hear my cackle across the coarse.  (I really did not want that to bust out yet.  I had hoped to ease my new friends into it...poop.)  The only bummer was that we had a hard time ever catching up with the Beer Cart girl.  When we would, she never had what we were wanting to order or she was out of credit card slips.  I think we encountered her all of two times.  When we caught up with our husbands we learned that they were on their 4th round.  Mm hm.  Now we know where the Beer Cart girl was all night.  Doh! 

Regardless it was an awesome night!  I found that the Happy Gilmore approach to golf worked much better for me then the traditional method.  Also bowling.  Bowling a golf ball into the hole is scads more effective then putting.  Best night ever.

Our housewarming Saturday went wonderfully!  We had at least 20 people over....maybe more.  One of Gabriel's buddies from school came and so he was on cloud nine.  I nearly burst into tears when my old high school chum, Sarah, showed up.  It was so good to see her and her Littles.  Most everyone there were people that Caren and Kevin had introduced us too.  I found myself thanking God again for such an awesome neighbor and friend. 

I had my painting out on the easel, pushed into a corner of the "formal" dining area.  I have been peeking in on it for a week trying to feel comfortable with it.  I had not quite been ready to hang it up but it was a good filler for the sort of empty dining area (no chairs) and so I left it out there.  I got a lot of feed back on it.  Caren relayed to me what others had said about it.  People really like it.  Hm.  Maybe it's not so bad after all. 

This morning I sat in front of it with a cup of coffee, still trying to feel "right" about it.  Something was just not quite right...  Finally it hit me and I grabbed my paints again.  With a few quick strokes here and then there....  Yes.  That's about right.  I carried her down stairs and hung her on the wall above the couch. 

She is finally comfortable and has a home.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Velvet Dreams

The gown was plumb colored, tea length, boat neck with cap sleeves. The neckline scooped lower then a regular boatneck but there was plumb colored lace that brought it up to just under the clavicle. 

It was night and I stood barefoot at the edge of a swimming pool.  I remember looking down into the water and seeing my toes curled over the edge of the pool. 

I guess I jumped in.  I don't remember that part.  Now I am "out of my body" watching myself, submerged and swirling my limbs around.  The skirt of the dress swirled about me.  My hair was loose and moving about as if of it's own accord.

The style of the dress changed...I remember that it did but I can't remember the details of the other.  I know it stayed purple. 

I woke up with a soft feeling.  The dream was so soothing and kind of beautiful.  It was a velvety dream.

The morning was not so smooth.  It was cold and rainy.  Perfect fall weather, really.  I got the boys off to school with out a hitch and then went to buy groceries before heading out to Baking Day at my friend Caren's.  As I headed up our hill to the highway, I noticed that  the rain drops were splatting the window and looking grainy.  Ice.  I was both excited and nervous about it.  I have driven in snow before but not on a mountain.  The grocery store is about 10 min. away which takes you about 1000 ft. higher then our home.  (Aaron says 1000 but I think one of my friends said 300...who knows.)

As I headed up the road I was seeing a few cars go by that had several inches of snow accumulated on them.  I guessed they came from waaaay up there.  Then the slushy raindrops turned into bonafied snow!  Lot's of it!  It was so beautiful! 

And scary.

I was not going to let it keep me from the store.  I made it safely and I even drove the speed limit. 

I had a long list this week because we are having a housewarming party this weekend.  I wanted to try to get everything now so we are not making a bunch of trips back and forth.  The snowfall spurred me on.  If it snows this weekend, I really  won't want to be shuttling back and forth.  I really wanted to get done in a timely fashion so as to have plenty of time to spend with the girls that I bake with but I still do not "know" the layout of the store very well and it made for slow shopping.

At the pharmacy I noticed that they were providing flu shots.  I dont' know why I thought this was the time to do it but I did.  So I signed up.  They said when I finished shopping to come back and they would be ready for me.

As I shopped I kept feeling anxiety mounting in my chest.  I hated feeling "lost" in a grocery store.  The anxiety peaked as I was trying to pick out cheese from the deli.  I had hoped I could come in and pick up a cheese tray for the party but there were none.  So I looked at all the many variety's of cheese.  Should I get a brie? A...what is that?  I don't know....something in a wheel.  Mozzarella for sure...  For whatever reason choosing the cheese became very important and choosing the wrong cheese would be a disaster.  I knew this was nuts.  It was more of the Crazy Head crap that I have been experiencing as of late. (See blog where I cry over #2 pencils.) 

"Forget it.  I'm not buying cheese.  Not today when I have Crazy Head."

I left the deli and finished my shopping. After I finished I headed over to the pharmacy.  I hate needles.  I'm sure it played a part with my Crazy Head episode. 

"Are you ready?" asked the pharmacist.

No, I thought.  I am about to cry because I have to drive down a mountain in the snow, I can't find anything in this store, and I can't make up my mind about CHEESE!

"Ready." I said.

Stick.  Tears.

"I'm so sorry!"

"It's OK.  I'm homesick."  I choked out.

"What?  You're sick?  Ma'am you should not have this shot when you are sick!"

"No, I'm homesick."

"Aw...I'm sorry.  I  moved here 10 years ago and it was so hard.  It's very different here.  Different people.  But we fell in love with it and have not gone back."

They were kind words.  She gave me a tissue, a Hershey Kiss and I headed to the register to check out.

The drive home was no big deal.  The ground is too warm for any ice to form.  I prayed. 

"Lord, what the hell?  Could You just calm my spirit?  Let me feel secure?  I don't like having anxiety attacks over silly things.  You do not give us a spirit of fear but of power and might and of SOUND mind.  I know this and You know this and I have been asking for this for a couple of weeks now up.  K?"

I felt angry on top of the anxiety and I was an hour later then I wanted to be to Baking Day.  My car was groaning up the gravel road to the house so I floored it.  I tore into our driveway.  The gravel grinding under my tires felt good.  I put away the cold groceries and packed a bag of the things I would need for baking.  On the way out I grabbed a Shiner.  It was only 11:30 but I figured it was 12:30 in Texas so it would be OK.  I just wanted a taste of home!

My friends at Baking Day are super!  I fell in the door with my bag of things and my emotions written all over my face.  No one is alarmed as I pop the cap off my bottle of Texas brew.  They let me replay my shopping experience and cry a little more.  They offer comfort and encouragement and hot off the stove donuts. 

"I promise I won't always be like this," I told them.  "I usually have it more together."

They don't seem to care either way.  We baked and we ate and we fellowshipped.  For about 4 hours I felt normal again.  I followed a recipe and there were no surprises.  It was warm and soft again like my velvety dream.  There was peace.

I feel like some things we just have to go through.  Somethings have to run their course.  The process can't be stopped but there can be moments of peace and rest. 

Thank You Father.  You did not have to show up.  You were there.  From the very beginning You directed our steps to the door of the house down a dirt road and across the hill from a fabulous woman named Caren.  She and her family and friends have been your vessel of peace, encouragement, and warmth.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.

It's been a helluva week!  The kids and I were heavily pressed with homesickness.  Aaron was in Houston for business which, I think, intensified our longings for "home."  One night, I went to check in on the boys while they slept and I found Drew sleeping with a baseball bat.  Heart breaking!  The next night he slept with me.  Gabriel asked me one day if Dad was really going to come home.  Uh...yeah!  Where in the world did that idea come from?! 

On another day, Drew cried and begged me to pick him up from school early because he had art and the last time he had art he spilled paint and got in trouble.  (According to his teacher he did not get in trouble and he did not seem bothered by the incident at all.)  That same day he came home from school insisting that he write his e's, m's, and g's over and over because his teacher said he was the slowest writer in the class.  (Also a gross exaggeration of what happened.)

I cried because it was cloudy.  I cried because I did not check in right at the school.  I cried because we weren't sure if Gabriel should test for GT here.  I cried because my neighbor was so kind and had me over for soup.  I boo hooed like crazy because I found out that, even though I was room mom, I was not going to be planning the class parties.  I was so depressed I got physically ill.  I ate tirimisu, drank hot tea and prayed.  I prayed a lot for this time to pass, for us to feel at home here, and for our hearts to ache less.

I also painted. 

Before we moved here I had a plan to paint the Aspens in the fall.  They have so much interest with their white trunks, black scars, and then the leaves....oh the leaves!  They truly are golden and they look like little gold coins shimmering when a breeze passes through them.  I thought now would be a good time to paint them.  For one because they are brilliant right now and also for therapy. 

I decided to paint a green background.  Aspens grow in clusters and in low places where water puddles so they are often at the foot of a hill/mountain.  The hills are covered in evergreens.  So I decided to start with a pale blue sky and then began my green mountains.  The paint was a little darker then I wanted and I was hoping for a sort of muted, impressionist look, so I added a touch of water to my paint.  This caused the paint to drip some.  I loved the affect!  Now my painting was taking on a mind of it's own.  This was not how I intended for it to go at all but it was really lovely and so I let the paint lead the way.  After the back ground was filled in I began making the Aspen trunks all along the bottom of the canvas.  When I would step back to look I was not sure what to make of it.  The top of the canvas looks very intentional, then it sort of breaks down into this very pretty....mess, and then the Aspen trunks root the painting into purpose again.  I splattered yellow all along the top of the trunks with a bright gold-yellow.

Drew was so sweet.  He wanted to help the whole time.  I would not let him paint but he would get the colors I would need, clean brushes, and then he got a little hand held fan to dry the paint.  We had fun! 

Caren came by to borrow something and to see how the painting was coming along.  She took in the green drips that were sandwiched by mountain peaks and tree trunks and said, "It's kind of symbolic of what you are going through right now, don't you think?"   My wise neighbor.  I immediately liked the piece better; understanding that it was not really a painting of a scenery.

The painting was a fun distraction.  The boys and I finished the week exhausted. 

And then Aaron came home. 

All was right with the world again!  Oh Friday!  What a fabulous day.  The skies were blue, the family was together, I hung out with Caren and some friends for a little Ladies was just great!

Yesterday I took Gabriel to take the GT test.  He needed two #2 pencils.  Of course I couldn't find any.  I fought back tears again.  I had been sent an e-mail to be there at 2 p.m.  When I got there they informed me that he was actually supposed to have been there at 10 a.m.  They said they had sent an e-mail Thursday.  I had not received one.  They still let him test.  I left to run errands; frazzled and annoyed with the lack of communication here.  I came back a little early to pick him up.  One of the ladies doing the testing came out and sat with me on a bench.

"How long ago did you guys move here?" she asked.

"9 weeks."

"Half way through the test Gabe refused to continue.  He was pretty stern with me about it and said that he already took tests in Texas and that Texas was better.  We took a break and eventually reconnected and were able to continue."

I nodded my head, totally understanding how Gabe was feeling and frustrated for him that he has to keep taking tests and proving himself.

"We are all having a hard time with this move," I told her.  "We are trying to adjust to the culture and things.  We are making friends and it's beautiful but we just....want to go home."  Sad to say I started to cry.  Again.

"That's exactly what Gabriel said.  He said he just wants to go home," she said.

The tears would not stop then. 

"I'm sorry.  I'm so frustrated with the lack of communication and I couldn't find #2 pencils and I would just really like for little things like #2 pencils to not rattle my cage."

The lady was so sweet understanding.  I fear that Gabe probably did not do well on his test.  I should have waited for him to take it in the Spring.  *sigh*

Today was another good day.  As a family, we went on an Errand Crawl.  We stopped for lunch at Red Robin and ended up ice skating at a local arena.  Drew was so excited!  He was also really bad.  He fell.  Often.  On his butt.  He did not cry about the fall or being wet.  He kept getting up and pressing on with a great attitude the whole time.  Gabriel did pretty good!  I don't think he fell but maybe 3 times.  He kept one hand on the wall the whole time but he pretty much went off on his own.  Aaron even laced up some skates and got out on the ice for the first time in his life.  I was so proud of my guys.  Drew would shuffle, slip, shuffle, slip, fall, get up, the whole way around the rink.  It was very slow going.  We signed both boys up for lessons.

Drew said, "Mom, I love this!  I am really terrible but I am not going to give up."  He has his mamma's spirit.  I won't give up either, buddy.

Shuffle, slip, shuffle, slip, fall, get up, shuffle, slip, shuffle, slip....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Love on the Rocks

There are so many things that I don't understand or know about God.  What I do know is His love and grace and that it's for everyone.   Sometimes prayer feels very vacant and pointless.  Very, very rarely have I prayed and then had revelation from Him.  Usually it is in life's mundane things that God speaks to me.  But He does.  He does not answer all of our questions.  Life is full of mysteries and surprises.  I see Him all the time, in everything. 

"The earth sings of His glories,"  says a song.  When I hike in Red Rocks I very much understand that lyric.  The rocks were pushed up out of the earth 6 million years ago when God was creating the Rocky Mountains.  (Something like that...maybe it was billion...and yes, I think the earth was created billions of years ago.  What's 7 days when you are an Eternal God?  Is the fact that it took a long time less miraculous?  I could go on and on.) The Rockies are basically a big fold in the earth, like a crease in your pants.  The Foothills, where I live, and Red Rocks are the sort of residue of that.  That's not the right description but if you have ever worked with clay or play dough you know what I mean. 

Red Rocks were pushed up out of the earth.  They have such a sense of motion to them!  Their color and texture add to their beauty.  I think they are a testimony of God's might and artistry.  Mostly, though, I feel they are an expression of love.  As any lover would leave surprises and treasures to woo another or maybe even as one would display their talents, I feel God has created things like Red Rocks, the Grand Canyon, the oceans, a sunset, the moon and the stars....all of these things are for us!  They are not for Him.  He's in Heaven, where I'm sure the scenery here pales!  They are for us to enjoy and to marvel.  I love presents!  Thank you Father!

The other day I was driving home and saw an amazing sunset! 

"Looks like someone was dabbling in the Cray Paas..." I said to Him.

He loves us so much!  All of us.  Please remember to love as He does, people.  My heart hurts for people who feel unloved by God's people, but worse, by God Himself.  Christ died for people of every color, sexual orientation, and political party.  He died for people of every religion, for addicts, for recreational drug users....for everyone. 

 Sorry, the news of late, overwhelms me.