Category: Photos

Unschooling Life: A trip to the museum

On Sunday we celebrated Purim though not in the traditional way. There are no Messianic Jewish groups nearby and we don’t actually know anyone local who is Messianic in their thinking. So, when I heard about the free day at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum and remembered how the kids had been begging to go, I thought it was the perfect way to celebrate God’s quiet intervention in our lives. It worked out beautifully because I actually had gas in the van, we had visited my grandmother the previous evening (we usually visit on Sundays), and everything just fell into place.

We do have a membership for the Science Center and Art and Natural History Museum but it doesn’t include the Children’s Museum (despite including all the other big museums in Pittsburgh.) This is really funny because this museum is tiny and more expensive to join than any of the others– it only gives about 3 hours of entertainment versus the others where we can spend the whole day. It is, however, included if you come into Pittsburgh and have a science center membership so make sure to hit it if you do.

I was surprised at the lack of crowd (though it was a beautiful day and the zoo had a free for under 13 day as well– I suspect the zoo was a lot more crowded.) I found it interesting that the vast majority of children there were under 6. There were a few older kids but they mostly hung back and were there with littles. It was also interesting to watch the little s immediately become interested in whatever my bigger kids were doing and that my kids immediately began exploring everything, applying the knowledge they accumulated from my dad, general discussion, books (they love the Dangerous Book for Boys as well as pretty much any experiment book), and tv (mostly Myth Busters, Dirty Jobs, and Rough Science).
Heading to the entrance

I love this shot of the kids. Esther has been waiting a whole year to go back and has been excitedly asking when the next free day was so she ran ahead. Meanwhile Rach (wearing a Hello Kitty Barbarian hoodie) decided to hang back and spend some time with her little brother.

Falling Letters
And this is what Essie had been waiting for, above all the other things there. She spent a good half hour catching letters, which made for some very fun photos (yes, that is me with the camera).

Magnets
Rachel and Issac exploring magnets in the Creativity Lab.

Magnetic sculpture

Rachel’s magnet sculpture ended up being posted at the museum’s Creativity Lab Blog here. (It is the second photo down.)

Electromagnets
Issac, who adores his Snap Circuit sets and spends quite a bit of time playing with electricity loved attempting to make this electro magnet work.
Wind

While Issac and Rachel explored magnets in the garage Esther played with sound and wind.

slide
After half an hour or so exploring magnets Issac and Rach climbed the net, tossed some parachutes and then played on the giant slide a bit.

building
The building area was what Rachel had waited a whole year to use. She loves to invent and build and couldn’t wait to start on the house sshe had designed in her head based on her experience last year. When she started this area was empty.
building
Within minutes she had help.
building
Lots of help.
wind
When they were finally tired of that room we went next door to experiment with wind.
ant hill
We then had to head to the next favorite– the human ant hill, where Rachel was immediately overrun with littles again.
Issac found fish
In Mister Roger’s Neighborhood we found the fish tank.
Trolley
The trolley
castle
And the Neighborhood of Makebelieve.
play
Tree
castlenoisy stairs
We then headed up the very noisy stairs (they sigh, and ow, and make other noises as you walk up them.)
Young Children Only
In the nursery area (where we had to explore because there were BABIES!) we found this little teeter totter with the massage “Young Children Only” to which Rach replied, “That means we can use it forever,” and then insisted on a photo with it.

water
We headed upstairs to the water area, where the kids quickly went from this to this:
getting soaked and making friends
Where they made friends with the only other older kids willing to play and got thoroughly soaked.
getting soaked and making friends
The making friends was the best part– I loved watching them quickly find like minded kids to play with without being shy (unlike myself and their dad at their ages.)
drying off
Sure it meant plenty of this and this:
drying off
But it also meant they had someone to hang out with the rest of our visit which made my extroverted oldest very, very happy.
clock pendullum
For those who went to the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum as a child, the pendulum clock is still there and Issac quickly found it and had to explore it.
clock

paper making

Meanwhile his sisters were having fun in the art room with their new friend, making paper

painting
painting, and print making.
attic
Issac wanted nothing to do with the art room (which he feels he can do readily enough at home while he really wanted to go to the Attic or “the sideways room” as he calls it.
build
And Rach went back to build in the Garage with her friend.
Esther, on the other hand, went into full performance mode which meant I got tons of incredible photos of her playing with the slow motion camera.
Many Esthers
light
Where she and her new friend spent a lot of time twisting, twirling
light
and doing the robot dance.
sound
In the attic are all sorts of cool illusions, from optical to sound, to shadow, and gravity. Here the kids play with sound.

slide

Mr. Roger's front porch
Finally they posed for some photos on Mr. Roger’s front porch swing.
swing
Then on the actual front porch swing (which is HUGE).
silly
silly
gategate
Then because it was a beautiful day they posed for some more rather silly photos on the way to the car.

 

 

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Click here to see the rest of the photos.

Our Novica Package

Top: Issac opening the package, the girls wearing "hats" made from the packaging, all the items once opened. Row 2: the packaging inside the boxes, the contents of the mailed package including the beautifully wrapped gift boxes. Bottom: The "Storytime Mice" candle holders with their info card, the cute box decoration, and the "Swimming Turtles" salt and pepper cups with the Bali card below.

Our package from Novica.com came today.  (See the original story here.) The kids were so excited that they crowded around and tried to hurry me as I attempted to slowly unwrap each package so I could get photos of it all. Finally I let them do the unwrapping, making them stop between each stage so I could get a photo.

First off I want to say that I have been repeatedly amazed at the shipping speed of Novica items. We ordered in the evening on the January 24th and both packages got here on January 31st. So far the shortest time to get here was 3 days, the longest was 8 days.

Both packages came from Bali and were beautifully wrapped. The wrapping and packaging have also been consistent in quality (for that matter so have the items we have ordered). For protection the items are carefully wrapped in many layers of paper (done in such a way that it makes perfect drawing paper for kids later– my kids stashed all the paper and kept the wrapping paper and raffia ribbon for projects.  In fact, they turned a lot of the packaging into crowns and paper masks yesterday.  Even the box it all came in turned into a robot head.)  If you choose to order you can watch for certain items that specifically say free gift wrap– they come automatically wrapped and are stunning. However even those that are not gift wrapped just need a bow to make them perfect for presentation (my only concern is that because there is no label on the outside, if you order more than one item you will probably have to unwrap just to find out which is which).

When I finally let the kids unwrap the packages completely (before the exploded) the items themselves were stunning. The Storytime Mice are absolutely adorable, heavy and well made. The color is so much deeper and truer than you can see from photos (which is to be expected with dark metal). They are simply wonderful. I probably should buy some candles to put in them but for now they look lovely on the mantelpiece without. Unlike most candlesticks these are well weighted at the bottom so I wouldn’t worry about the kids messing with them and knocking them over. Every time I see them they make me smile. 🙂

The Swimming Turtles are just precious. The color is more green than in the photo (which was fine and we actually prefer the green to the brown but might be a problem if you wanted them to match something). The texture is amazing– everyone keeps coming in the kitchen and picking them up to hold them. The kids literally coo over them, they really are that sweet. I got them because the little tea cups we use to hold our supplements in the morning are all beginning to break but I haven’t been able to bring myself to use these yet though knowing they aren’t particularly expensive to replace is a comfort. Ideally, if we ever have the money to spare I would probably want to order 2 more sets and use those for our daily supplements. In fact I just checked the artist’s work and he has so many different little cups with lids that I think I would have a hard time choosing and I am now a big fan of this gentleman’s work which you can see here.

God has blessed us so much through Novica.com and I am so grateful to see this company with good connections (they are associated with National Geographic) encouraging artisans around the world to create and sell their items.

And because Novica.com sent us the gift certificate to buy these items I want to again share some for the links they requested that I share with you:

fair trade corporate gifts: These really are lovely and I love that they are fair trade and would make lovely gifts for anyone.
green gifts: I am not big on the use of “green” but I do love that they are environmentally savvy because God does want us to be wise and take care of the home He has given us.
unique gifts: Absolutely unique. I have found so many things here that would make great gifts for the hardest people in my family to buy for.
microfinance: LOVE this link. I so want to be able to donate to help other artisans around the world do what they love.

The Surprise Revealed

On Rachel’s birthday I got an email from a friend who said that they had sent money to my paypal account as a special birthday present for Rachel, being that 13 is such a special birthday. I thought, “Oh, how nice, she will have enough to finish saving for a replacement screen for her Eee PC.” Then I looked in my paypal account and realized that no, she now had enough to buy both the full size midi keyboard she wanted (the “big” thing she was saving for) and the foot pedal for the midi keyboard. After thanking our friends profusely, Shamus and I decided to surprise Rachel by ordering the keyboard instead of giving her the money.

As you can see, it was the right thing to do. The keyboard came this morning (which is funny itself because the pedal shipped first and isn’t here yet, and the keyboard itself shipped yesterday. She is in seventh heaven, even though we could only afford a full size that has to be plugged into a computer with the proper program running (full size keyboards with built in speakers and software are EXPENSIVE.) After we got everything working on a spare computer we moved it to the kitchen where her 66 key keyboard was. Now we have a full size midi keyboard plus computer in the kitchen and all three kids are thrilled (especially Rachel, who spent much of the day practicing.)  So thank you again to Jethro and Roberta– you made for a very happy girl!


Rachel sees the box. She knew a surprise was coming for her birthday but not what or when.
Rachel finds out what is inside the box.

There is a Teenager in the House

Yes, my oldest, my first child, turned 13 yesterday. Shamus managed to get a post up here but I didn’t since I was busy with the birthday party she planned and organized herself. It is amazing to see this tall young lady (5′ 5″–she towers over me) where my little girl was so recently.

The cake that Rachel designed and made herself. (I made the icing and homemade blue dye for the pond.)

It doesn’t really feel like having a teenager since not only is she not really interested in “teenager” things but she, in general, doesn’t do the attitude. In fact we have been blessed to find her getting more kind, thoughtful, and loving as she has gotten older. We have seen her really blossom since she started babysitting (which she adores) and playing piano (which she loves so much that she babysits in exchange for lessons and goes with my mother-in-law to practice at her church while my mother-in-law works.)

13!!! And she managed to blow out all the candles in 1 go.

She is creative, a natural inventor/designer type who loves nothing more than taking impossible things and situations and making them work together. She has an invention in her head that she is working on figuring out how to make it really happen.

She had a sled riding party with friends of the family (worked out great- there was a friend for each of the kids.)

She is excited to be able to have an Etsy shop where she will be selling some of her creations and re-purposing things we have around the house to be sold as craft supplies (she has already photographed and figured out pricing on Altoid tins and plans to sell the beautiful cobalt blue jars the GNC enzymes come in, as well as other things). We haven’t had a chance to set it up yet because she needs a name for it and we have been busy. She dreams of owning a shop someday and wants to run cash register as her first “real” job after babysitting. This is a good thing because she is very good at convincing people to buy things.

Not eating snow, melting it with their breath.

And of course with recent events this post wouldn’t be complete without yet another total God thing. First off, that coconut milk came in handy yet again when I realized that it is pretty hard to make hot cocoa for a sled riding party without milk so coconut milk hot cocoa it was, which, I should add, is pretty good. Later I realized that I was almost completely out of coconut oil because I had used so much in making Rachel’s cake. Of course we have no money to buy more and I wondered what I should do because we are totally out of olive oil and have a tiny bit of butter in the house. Wouldn’t you know my mother-in-law brought a container of it over when she brought Rachel’s birthday present. Apparently the mention of God providing coconut and coconut milk reminder that I had left a container there for her to use in baking some time ago and she had no idea that we were almost completely out!

Finally I have another really awesome God thing to share, but that has to wait because Rach might read this and I want it to be a surprise.

Appreciate a Dragon Day 2011

It is Appreciate a Dragon Day!

Around here dragon appreciation is a daily thing. We love our dragons. Last year I posted pictures of the dragons around the house. This year the kids got excited and made dragons and I have several new dragon paintings to share.

Rachel started making a dragon with plastic forks and coffee filters but realized that idea wouldn’t work and started making a sculptural one with a marble track Issac has. That worked– it has a rotund body, a round head, a ribbon smile, and wings from the netting of Issac’s pirate ship. Only thing is she used tape to hold it all together and it fell apart before I could get a photo. So that was a sad dragon.

Issac was going to make a dragon but got distracted trying to build the Empire State Building with his railroad track pieces.

Esther attempted to make a standing dragon from Issac’s old dragon costume (which is very too small on him). She used wire clothes hangers and old blankets to fill it. After several attempts she gave up on the clothes hangers and stuck with a plain stuffed dragon.

Finally I did a few dragon paintings (mostly asleep, I should note:) I like sleeping dragons) over the last year that I thought I would share:


Let sleeping dragons lie.


Long Winter’s Nap

Dragon’s Day Off
Dragon’s Day Off

Now go forth and appreciate the dragons in your life. 🙂  (And if you did a post about it leave a copy of the link in the comments so we can come check it out.)

Where we are: November

So it has been a month and I have had nothing to say.  Too much going on, too much social stuff irl so not enough energy to share elsewhere.

Rachel, waiting and reading, at Esther's practice where she would later help paint the set.
Waiting for practice to start.
Ready to go in.

*Esther’s show went wonderfully.  She loved it.  She is not passionate about the stage but enjoys the social aspect of it.  When asked if she wants to do it again she says absolutely.  When I am asked whether I would do it again, I say I will consider it.  It was exhausting.  I did not enjoy dealing with the sort of grownup who wants to be involved in such things– the nastiness, backbiting, shoving, and shouting were all way too much for me (not me, I avoided it like the plague but it was a constant undertone in the whole thin despite it being a “Christian” organization though it didn’t phase Esther in the least.  So, we will see what the next show is and if it falls during a time when there is not much else going on.  Oh, and no photos from the show because we weren’t allowed to take ANY photos of the kids in costume on the campus at all– so we would buy the not so great cd of photos for $10.

*Esther turned 11.  She wanted a birthday party, which we had 2 days after Thanksgiving (her birthday was the day after the last day of Oliver! and I needed to recuperate after having to have her at the college EVERY, single, day for 3-6 hours for a week so we waited for the party.)  The party went well (family party overlapped with a friend party–we had family there and invited a few friends and their families), she is thrilled that she finally had a real party and everyone is happy.  And I forgot to take photos because the kids had my camera batteries in use in the Wiimotes.

*My muse left me completely and I have a few illustrations to finish for the project so I can call it done so I am very frustrated.  Instead my brain went completely left brained and I spent the last month suddenly finishing all the websites that have been waiting for me to work on them (other than my own).  So those are mostly done, which is good, and now I am at a place where I am almost ready to pick up my paint brush again.

Rachel as Susan from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

*Rachel is adoring piano.  We are praying that we will continue to have the money to pay for her lessons (we pay about half what the other classes in the area cost but are dwindling down to the dregs financially and unless we get the check owed us soon are going to be worrying about where the next meal comes from let alone piano lesson.)

She and Issac also spent about a week making stop animation Lego videos– or at least taking photos for them (I have to find a better movie maker that will let me throw all those photos in for them–haven’t found a simple one for Ubuntu that works with stills.  They took over 300 photos.  They made a house building movie, a roller coaster ride, a sword fight, and a few others.

Building a House
Building a House

Preparing to record.

The Sword Fight

*Issac wrote a post on his blog, finally (it only took him a year).  Actually he was nervous of actually typing it himself but he answered the questions and told me what to write.  http://www.elasah.com/Issac/ He has also been getting really into Esther’s new Scribblenauts game (as have all three in fact) which is awesome because in Scribblenauts you have to write in anything you want or need to solve the puzzle and you have to spell it correctly (the other day Rachel wrote Duke instead of duck, and got a duke, and wrote plan and plane instead of plain and got both of those– which of course did not help her solve that particular problem.)  He is going around with a huge list of words on a sheet of paper so he can spell them corerctly and reading, reading, reading.

He also has thoroughly enjoyed the huge piles of leaves this year.

Happy leaf pile
Adding leaves
Raking
Very tall leaf pile

*We finally managed to figure out all the stuff the mortgage company wanted  (lots of no you don’t need that, oh wait yes you do, oh you forgot to send us that thing that you sent us twice sort of business since April) and are now plugged into the next step in project maybe they won’t foreclose on our home after all.  We keep praying about this and trying to decide how best to manage it.  If God wants us out of this house then the bank will probably have to take it because it needs to much work done for us to sell it at what we would have to in an area where houses aren’t really selling.  If He wants us to keep it then He needs to help us make more money (down to just the Escapist’s random checks and my random bits of income which only pay for extras) or provide some other way.  Either way we are trusting him but it is a relief that something is happening, finally and knowing that if we DO have to move it won’t be until June-ish. That said the roof is leaking again. Praising the Lord that it does or we never would have been able to afford the house in the first place.

Some pumpkins.

*We are thoroughly enjoying having more time with Shamus now that he is down to working a normal work week (he worked 60-80 hours before).  We actually got to watch a movie together last night (How to Train Your Dragon–hilarious).  Esther has used her birthday money to get a WoW account to play with him (as he works on his new Let’s Play series– his best work yet.  He is working on a game, and a book, and another video series and much calmer and happier, or would be if the whole where will the money come from thing would get settled.  I think that if the Escapist paid regularly– either on the quarter instead of some unknown time after or maybe even monthly, he would be much calmer and able to just enjoy writing for a living.

Esther Cat picking a pumpikin

*A dear friend gave us a copy of Restoration: Returning the Torah of God to the Disciples of Jesus which has changed our view of The Bible in amazing ways.  It has really been eye opening.  I read it myself, sharing some choice passages with Shamus and now we are reading through as a family (having finished our yearly through the Bible reading as a family early.)  It is so exciting to discuss and share and see the Bible from this new point of view.  I do not yet feel like I am up for discussion about it but we are now celebrating Sabbath and the Biblical holy days and it is so much more “real” and true than all the made up celebration days that have felt empty.  Not only that but God is really blessing us through it– the kids even get excited when it is near Sabbath each week.  In fact just a few weeks ago Esther realized it was Friday and shouted with joy, “Mom, tomorrow is Sabbath! That is my FAVORITE holiday!  And we get to celebrate it EVERY week!”  Not only has it changed our viewpoint but it has made us eager to start the new year and dig into the Old Testament scriptures and find the things we have been missing.  It also made reading the New Testament (we read straight through this year) make so much more sense!

My crew (Issac is Batman, again) with Kayla (Snow Princess).

*Shamus and I got each other Walk It Out for Christmas thanks to Janel’s review of it.  We love Wii Fit and the kids and Shamus love Dance Dance Revolution but we needed something that would be  low impact for me and let us walk with lots of goals and variety (walking outside here doesn’t happen much except in the summer since we live in Western PA where the weather and roads are not designed for walking– unless you like being forced into the mud/snow by cars whizzing by at speeds well in excess of the speed limit on blind curves while trying to trudge up a hill.) So, Walk it out is good and fun and as Janel pointed out here you have to use will power to STOP working out.

Where we are:

* We are getting used to our much busier schedule:

Essie and friend
Essie waiting for Rachel to finish her piano lesson.

* We are 1 day from my baby turning 9!
almost 9
almost 9
* We are nearly done with the painting project (okay, that was a royal we there).  I have photos for the rest of the characters, and the only reason I am not painting them today is that I ate half a piece of pizza last night at the birthday party my dad’s wife’s parents held for her and Issac’s birthdays.  Tomato sauce always sets off the rheumatoid in my hands.  Ow.
Posing
* We are apparently being attacked by Batman.
Batman and Issac
Lightsabers
Lightsaber and Nerf Gun battles
Lightsaber and Nerf Gun battles
and Nerf Guns
Lightsaber and Nerf Gun battles
* We are kind of odd and rather tired.
Essie
* We are enjoying the fall weather and colors.
Western PA fall colors
Especially while driving to Essie’s practice (the reason she is so tired: 2.5 hours each Sunday practicing singing and marching about with no break is a bit much for her) and to get milk here:
Broadrun Farms
* And finally, we are in a state of flux.

First, I suggest you go read my husband’s explanation— it is one of the reasons I haven’t been writing much as we were in a place where we weren’t sharing what was going on until we had peace about it.  This is something we have been praying about for a while– we knew things could not go on as they have been (no man with a family can stay healthy and keep a healthy family life while working 60 to 80 hours a week.)  We do have a little money put away though the mortgage is another whole story that I am not discussing right now, though prayers are appreciated.

We have peace about the situation and know that God has a plan for this time (and are just praying that hubby have wisdom regarding which of the many projects he has going to work on and how to go about monetizing them.) If you didn’t go read my husband’s explanation then let me just say we no longer have a regular income.  We have income of the random, who knows when and how much, sort.  All I can say is that God is providing.  And we are looking forward to seeing around the next bend in the road because there are so many possibilities that it is a bit nerve-wracking.  In the meantime we are finally getting lots of time with hubby (much spent playing Minecraft-– which we heartily recommend.)

On the Road Again: part 3

Finally, the rest of the post so I can move on to all the stuff that has been happening since August.

After spending several hours at the Maryland Science Center (and $15 poorer due to the cost of parking), we were off again, this time to spend the night a bloggy friend’s house for the night before heading to another bloggy friend’s house on the way home the next day. I have known Deb for several years now (initially through the web and later through a previous stop on the way home from our semiannual trip to visit another friend.) Her kids are in a similar age range to my own and they all thoroughly enjoy each other.  Also Deb is full of awesome ideas and I love to absorb as much as I can while visiting. 🙂

There was a lot of mommy talk (poor Deb barely got any quiet I am afraid), dress-up and costumes (mostly the girls though they have plenty of awesome boy costumes and the boys got in on it),

Costume
quite a few practical jokes, light-saber and Nerf gun battles galore with some Lego’s thrown in the mix, and of course lots of swimming.
Pool

We had a lovely time and the kids had a hard time leaving.

Visiting friends

Though I suspect poor Deb, who keeps a gorgeous, amazingly decorated, (and CLEAN) house despite having 4 kids and has an awful lot on her plate, was ready for a break.  And isn’t this a beautiful picture  of her and her youngest (okay, not a great picture but I love the mommy love going on in it.)  So thank you again, Deb, for opening your home to us and your wonderful hospitality.  You were such a blessing to us (and my house loves you– you are such an inspiration and it is much better organized and all those little things that I put off have happened since our last visit.  I swear, one of these days I am going to kidnap you so you can help me make my house look nice.)

Visiting friends

We then hopped in the car (it melting out and the one downside of our lovely, wonderful, blessing of a Toyota Sienna is that the air conditioning is meh if anything so 100 degrees was a bit much.)  We headed north, back to PA, were we spent several wonderful hours visiting this wonderful family (I have known Beth online for as long as I have known Deb but as they only just moved to PA from Tennessee and I have never been to Tennessee  this was our first time meeting. )

We spent so much time busy and talking and talking and talking, well, we forgot to take pictures.  Where Deb is an inspiration (I always come home full of awesome ideas and my house spends the next month getting much more organized :)), Beth is a kindred spirit.  So mostly we talked books, books, art, books, books, kids, books, books, Christianity, books, cooking, books, unschooling, books, and possibly, books.  Her oldest gave his Lego collection over to Issac for the day (who relished some much needed alone time playing), the girls hit it off like that (and are bugging and bugging for another visit), and all the kids headed down to the creek for a long wade and some crayfish catching.  I came home with several amazing books to read (Nourishing Traditions I bought myself having seen it at Beth’s and discussed it with her), Restoration: Returning the Torah of God to the Disciples of Jesus she gave me (it has changed our lives and our relationship with God– heartily recommend it), plus a creation dinosaur book (Dinosaurs by Design) that we didn’t have for Essie to read due to her sudden fascination with all things dinosaur (we had this one and this one.  Oh, and she sent me home with some raw milk, which we tried, love, (can DRINK!!!), and which immediately spawned a search for a raw milk producer in the area (52 minutes away is the closest but what a blessing!)  I can’t wait to go back and pick her brain about a multitude of things (and as I mentioned my oldest especially reminds me daily that we need to go back for a visit..  Of course now that both families have weekly activities it has been tricky to find the time but God’s timing is perfect and I am looking forward to the next visit (and can’t wait till they can get here to visit us!)

On the road again: part 2

So it is October and I am only just now, finally, finishing this series, except that this isn’t the finish because I am just doing part of a post because I have to leave in a few minutes to take Esther to her 2 and half hour Oliver! practice (during which I will sit and paint– the project is progressing and Sunday afternoon practices have been a huge help since I get to sit there for 2 and half hours without kids hanging over me– “Whatcha doin’ Mom?  I’m hungry!  Can I …..”)

So, the second stage of our trip to Alexandria we  used our wonderful gift of the museum membership to go to the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore (which just happened to be on the way to another friend’s house.) On the way there, which entailed driving the bypass for DC, Rachel recorded my running commentary regarding the crazy drivers off DC. Mostly she just took pictures which are not nearly as funny as she thought they should be. And at this point all I remember was how silly it all was, and how silly the roads are down there with their constant attempts to remove you from the road you are trying to stay on and the GPS constantly jabbering on about staying left, stay right, take the right lane to turn left.
Me.
And this is me. No, I am not angry, just sweltering hot (100 degrees), and concentrating on the craziness around me.
Maryland Science Center
We mad eit with no trouble, except that the GPS thought the Sceince Center was a mile down the road on a bike path, which was nice. Oh, and there is no actual parking so you have to do road side (just so you know– Pittsburgh has cheap parking for the Ar tMuseum and Sceince Center– which I never appreciated until this where I had to pay $15 for 6 hour parking and had to run outside every 2 hours to pay (remember that I had to park AWAY from the Science Center entrance and it was 100 degrees outside? Yeah. Oh, and I was alone with 3 kids? Which meant at the very least dragging the youngest outside with me each time and being very nervous about leaving the older two with very strict instructions to STAY TOGETHER and call if they need me.)
Maryland Science Center
At least it was pretty.
Maryland Science Center
As usual we headed to the top first (beat the crowds going the other direction. In this case the upstairs was kind of dull though the Chesapeake Bay area and blue crab bit was cool if short.)
Maryland Science Center
The next floor was much, much cooler. We actually got to go into the chemistry lab and experiment (ours showed us how enzymes worked, which is awesome because we have to take food enzymes daily for most foods.)
Maryland Science Center
Really awesome.
Maryland Science Center
Then there was the physics section– which the kids adored. This particular contraption was after my marble loving boy’s heart.
Maryland Science CEnter
All three loved this experiment with pullys.
Maryland Science CEnter
Maryland Science CEnter
Maryland Science CEnter
Also awesome was this section– here the kids had to build an arch from these foam blocks as quickly as possible.
Maryland Science CEnter
Maryland Science CEnter
Building flying machines to put in the wind tunnel= awesome.
Maryland Science CEnter
Black lights right outside the bathroom.
Maryland Science CEnter
Obligatory “dress up as astronauts” photo for my brother, who has worked at NASA from the last 9 years and has wanted to be an astronaut since he was 4.
And about here my camera batteries died or something because I don’t have photos of the other areas– like the dinosaur dig– which Essie adored or the astronomy section. And none of the human body/cell area– which freaked out my two preteen girls to no end. (We have hit that” too much information about the human body being learned out of necessity and therefore want nothing to do with blood cells and all that” stage.)

The kids enjoyed this science center but there has been quite a bit of debate about which is their favorite so far– I think Carnegie Science Center still wins– the Maryland Science Center had some really impressive exhibits but felt too wide open and empty compared to all the awesome stuff at the Carnegie. Also, I think the exhibits at the Carnegie have more replay value than those at Maryland.

A few minutes after leaving the Science Center we were well on our way to another friend’s house but you will probably hear more about that sometime in November if current trends continue. And now I have to leave as it is work time for me and practice time for Essie.

Busy busy-ness

I am still here and still planning on writing the second part of the previous post, not to mention other posts in my head and several book reviews I really want to write because I have read some AWESOME books this summer.  I also want to tell you about the awesome birthday gifts we got last week (Shamus b-day is the 24th and mine is the 20th.)  And several other wonderful blessings we have had, lots of God stuff, and lots of surprise learning opportunities.

Esther
Esther. Outside for some unknown reason.

However, we are finally finishing up the crazy-ness that is summer here in our household with a final doctors appointment for my grandmother then eye doctor appointments for all (we believe that Shamus and I need new glasses and that Rach is going to need glasses.  And then, with the rest of the world back to school and doing their busy stuff in the evenings we can settle down and do the stuff we like to do while others are in school and just be involved in what we actually want to be involved in (which at this point I think means Essie is going to be in Oliver! and Rach is taking piano lessons.)

Rachel
Have I mentioned that my oldest suddenly grew up this summer? Yes, she is 12 and a half. My goodness.

This summer has meant several new friends as well as seeing old friends for each of our children as well as myself, which is an answer to prayer.  It also has been full.   Very full.  And I though I am grateful for it I also want it to slow down for a while so we can settle down and rest.  And now I have to run because I have work to do and then take Grandma to the doctor.