Thursday, January 31, 2008

What am I afraid of?

Husband has been doing quite a bit of traveling for work lately - far more than he has ever done in the past (almost) 5 years that he's had this job. (He's also finished traveling for now.) It started after Thanksgiving when some other employee quit, and instead of hiring someone new, the clients decided that Husband will take over parts of her duties. (Cause he doesn't have enough to do already! The man is seriously overworked, in my opinion, but that's a whole other post.)


This woman's duties included learning some new software and then traveling around training operators on how to use the software. First, Husband had to travel to the training center, and now is being sent all over the state to train new people. So, he lives the "high life" (lonely) on the road - hotels, food, mileage on a rental car instead his own, but the kids & I are at home attempting life as usual.


Aside from the obvious (I am doing EVERYthing for the house & the kids), I truly HATE it when he travels. Unfortunately, I have also been not-so-nice to him about it either. It's not his fault, but he's a horrible conversationalist over the phone, and I hate the fact that I'm not really talking to him or able to hug him either. Therefore, instead of logically discussing it with him, I just argue with him instead. Cause I'm mature like that.


I figured my funk had more to do with being spread too thin & overstressed.... but if I am being honest with myself it has nothing to do with that. Yes, life has royally stunk this past month, but it goes on. We've all adjusted, and in some ways I am interacting better with the kids than I was before. (and worse in others, but let's not get into that.)


No, instead my funk results from one of my greatest fears: that he will die suddenly, and the family of 3 will be permanent. I fear that this life with him traveling all the time is merely a training ground for me to realize that I would be okay with the kids, house, and job all by myself. Quite frankly, I would prefer to just learn the lesson and keep the husband, but that doesn't make the fear go away.


Nothing quite like laying yourself open on the Internet. :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Umbrella Cake (baby shower)

Judging by my sitemeter, folks like to look at cakes! Considering I do a fair share of looking around at them myself, why not post more?!

This is a cake I did for a baby shower:


The top of the umbrella is a chocolate (most likely Devil's Food!) cake cooked in a 9x13 pan. I drew the umbrella shape onto a piece of paper & then cut it out to trace over the cake. The frosting is homemade, and I did just use regular food coloring for the blue since I wanted it to be a nice pastel.

The umbrella handle and all the babies (It's raining babies! Ha! I'm so easily amused!) are yellow cupcakes - the handle being mini-cupcakes & the babies regular size. I used a different cake flavor here because the party was for a playgroup, so the moms got the chocolate & the kids got the cupcakes. I used Wilton dyes for the skintone, and that black gel icing you can get at the grocery store for their faces. If you click on the picture, you can tell that I tried to experiment with different facial expressions. It didn't go well, so we ended up with lots of smiling babies instead!

Monday, January 28, 2008

High & Elementary School

Last week my Honors class had the opportunity to share their chemistry knowlege with some 2nd grade classes. The goal was to show the younger children some official laboratory equipment, talk about what it was for, and to do a little experiment.

Since it involves pretty colors, I decided to have them do a little acid-base experiment using red cabbage juice as an indicator. Straight out of the (stinky!) pot, cabbage juice is purple. The students first needed to use beaker, flasks, and graduated cylinders to measure out 4 containers of cabbage juice.


Adding an acid to the cabbage juice will turn it pink. We tested 2 acids: vinegar, and lemon juice.


Next, they practiced weighing out solids on the balance, testing baking soda and salt. Here we see a student carefully adding the solid to the indicator in the beaker.


Bases (the baking soda) will turn greenish/blue as you can see in the picture below. Also note that we had the 2nd graders take copious notes during their experiment. (okay, okay, they filled in a chart!)



Of course, at the end we just "had" to combine all the containers to see what happened! Amazingly enough, the solution was purple! (Actually, that makes total sense - purple is neutral, and an acid & a base will neutralize each other. Just in case you were wondering!)


After a thorough cleansing of equipment & table, we were finished! Good times had by all. I think my favorite part was watching my students interacting with the younger ones - it was neat seeing even the gruffest teen acting nice & friendly.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thought for the Day

I read this in someone's email signature:

There are two ways to slide easily through life;
to believe everything or to doubt everything.

Both ways save us from thinking.

- Alfred Korzybski

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Professional Photos Gone Wrong!!

I received a super funny email earlier this week - it had all these old Olan Mills photos that may have looked super spiffy back then (???) but look pretty darn comical now. So of course they now have all-new captions! For example:


The Purvis family made several stops along the Oregon Trail to document their six-month journey. This photo was taken just two weeks before the dysentery took Momma to Jesus.



Dawn and her recently exhumed sister, Gorgotha, pose with Scraps.

I was going to post the whole thing here, but after some Googling, it looks like this email has been circulating the Internet for quite awhile and you can see the rest here.

Enjoy!! (but be sure to put any drinks aside first!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Bug

Today you are 3.

If I wanted to be technical, I'd say that tonight around 9:44PM you are three, but since you thought your birthday was last Saturday when we had your party, I don't think you are too interested in technicalities.

You shot into this world a month early and shocked all of us - especially me, since I was trying to take a nap when you decided you wanted to come out. You very loudly voiced your opinions when you were born, and not much has changed since then. It's just that I understand (English) words far more than loud screaming.

You were such a serious baby - it took so much effort to make you smile. Although... it made your smiles that much more precious when you did. Looking at you today, I am tickled every time I see you grin and giggle at me.

I love that you are ticklish and that you love to be tickled (some of the time at least). I love how your eyes light up when you are happy. I love that you love books, and never tire of begging people to read them to you. I love that we can still cuddle.

You love trains, cow & doggy, Elmo, cars, trucks, milk, books, Mommy, Daddy, and Bird.

You have an adorable little dance that you do when you tell me that Daddy's running.

You love to jump.

One of your favorite games is to lure me out of my seat to go do something, and then fly across the house to sit in my seat and laugh at me when I discover you.

You could play in the bathtub for hours if we would let you.

Happy Birthday, Big Boy. Love you!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

That's It - I'm Going to Bed!!!

I think the title says it all! :) Newly completed tasks are crossed out & in green.

1. fold load of laundry in dryer
2. empty dishwasher
3. load dishwasher with dirty dishes (no, but they've at least been rinsed, so no nastiness lingering in the kitchen)
4. grocery shopping
5. put Bug's train table back in his room & put the coffee table back out in the living room.
6. Take Bird to make-up dance lesson
7. do Chemistry homework (almost done! did most of it at the dance lesson)
8. type up answer key for chemistry homework
9. write lecture notes for the next chapter in physics
10. lesson plans for the next chapter in physics
11. write practice questions for AP
12. write tests for honors & AP
13. write lecture notes for regular chem. (at least enough to get through tomorrow!)
14. lesson plans for regular chem. (again, enough for tomorrow!)
15. grade papers for ALL classes & get grades online
16. go outside and ride bikes
17. take Bug's bike away when he repeatedly rides where it's not safe
18. provide snacks when requested
19. have a long discussion about how vegetables & ranch dip is indeed a snack
20. clean kids' bathroom
21. put Bug in bath (at 4:30pm, no less!)
22. supervise Bird cleaning her bedroom
23. swap kids in tub
24. supervise Bug cleaning his room, and then doing a massive rearrangment & sorting of his furniture and possessions.
25. start to clean living room & family room
26. eat dinner (leftovers! yesssss!)

27. take out trash
28. finish cleaning all toys & papers & dishes that are out and about

29. put kids to bed


Everything else can wait for tomorrow. Good night everybody!!

Updated List

Sigh. This was not how today was supposed to go! As any mother knows, however, the kids and the house come first. Here's the updated list (new items in color):

1. fold load of laundry in dryer
2. empty dishwasher
3. load dishwasher with dirty dishes
4. grocery shopping
5. put Bug's train table back in his room & put the coffee table back out in the living room.
6. Take Bird to make-up dance lesson
7. do Chemistry homework (almost done! did most of it at the dance lesson)
8. type up answer key for chemistry homework
9. write lecture notes for the next chapter in physics
10. lesson plans for the next chapter in physics
11. write practice questions for AP
12. write tests for honors & AP
13. write lecture notes for regular chem. (at least enough to get through tomorrow!)
14. lesson plans for regular chem. (again, enough for tomorrow!)
15. grade papers for ALL classes & get grades online
16. go outside and ride bikes
17. take Bug's bike away when he repeatedly rides where it's not safe
18. provide snacks when requested
19. have a long discussion about how vegetables & ranch dip is indeed a snack
20. clean kids' bathroom
21. put Bug in bath (at 4:30pm, no less!)
22. supervise Bird cleaning her bedroom
23. swap kids in tub
24. supervise Bug cleaning his room, and then doing a massive rearrangment & sorting of his furniture and possessions.
25. start to clean living room & family room
26. eat dinner (leftovers! yesssss!)

27. take out trash
28. finish cleaning all toys & papers & dishes that are out and about

29. put kids to bed

Happy "Holiday"

I love the fact that I have a three-day weekend. It makes me wish every weekend was three days. Then I'd have one day for fun family stuff (even if it means we all loll about on the floor all day doing nothing together), one day for all things house-related (like laundry, grocery shopping & cleaning), and one day for all things school-related (grading papers, lesson plans, lecture notes, doing homework....).

But, of course, being the fun-loving (and procrastinating!) person that I am, managed to have fun family days on both Saturday and Sunday, leaving today for both school and house related things. And technically, the kids and I had fun this morning too.

I did not realize Husband had to work today. Oops. My evil plan to foist all the House duties onto him has been foiled!

So, here I am instead blogging about what needs to be done. (I wasn't kidding about the procrastinating!) Let's see:

1. fold load of laundry in dryer
2. empty dishwasher
3. load dishwasher with dirty dishes
4. grocery shopping
5. put Bug's train table back in his room & put the coffee table back out in the living room.
6. Take Bird to make-up dance lesson
7. do Chemistry homework (almost done! did most of it at the dance lesson)
8. type up answer key for chemistry homework
9. write lecture notes for the next chapter in physics
10. lesson plans for the next chapter in physics
11. write practice questions for AP
12. write tests for honors & AP
13. write lecture notes for regular chem.
14. lesson plans for regular chem.
15. grade papers for ALL classes & get grades online

I do not forsee any more House items being crossed off today!! Oh well. The kids have finally picked out today's movie, and I bet I can get the papers graded before it's over - they picked Bedknobs and Broomsticks! heh, heh. I don't think they've ever stayed long enough to watch the entire thing, but at least they won't be picking on one another for a while either. :)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

How to Make a Train Cake

Bug's 3rd birthday party was yesterday - the theme was trains. Well, Elmo and trains, but that was cause it was easy to find paper plates and plastic bags with Elmo on them. (It was a train birthday party, not a Thomas birthday party, and apparently you can't have a party if there are no licensed characters involved.)

Anyways, one of my creative outlets is making spiffy birthday cakes for my kids. So I decided to try a train cake this year. After finding inspiration from the insanely tiny picture here, I bought my cake mix & mini-loaf plans and was ready to go!

Two boxes of cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines as opposed to Betty Crocker; they taste the same but I find the DH cakes much easier to build with.) was enough to bake 8 mini-loafs of cake. Remembering to grease the pans would have been a good idea. Thankfully, I had 5 decent loafs, and parts of the other 3 to work with.

My plan was to have a 5-car train: engine, tinder, flatcar, boxcar, and caboose. After some trimming & leveling with my gigantic kitchen knife, I assembled the skeleton of the train as seen here:


Next up was to do the base layer of frosting. The main reason for doing this is because it will glue all the pieces together, as well as cover up any mistakes that may have occured (a crack here, a chipped corner there). I do make my own frosting - powdered sugar, a glop of plain crisco, a dash of vanilla (use clear if you need pure white frosting; otherwise it doesn't matter), and enough milk to make it all congeal together when you beat it with your mixer. More sugar will make it stiffer; more milk will thin it out. Tip: If you have slightly runny frosting, it will have a nice smooth glaze when it dries and sets - a plus if you plan on covering your cake with fondant frosting or drawing a picture on top.

(sorry about the quality of the photo, but it's the only one I took!)

Finally, the colored frosting!! After checking which dyes I actually had (food coloring just doesn't do it for me - I like much more vibrant colors), I essentially settled on a rainbow cake. It was incredibly tedious to keep rinsing the bowl & tools every time I switched colors, but the end result was worth it!





The wheels are mini-oreos and the "tinder" is crushed mini-oreos. The "logs" in the flatcar are mini Crunch bars.

Bug LOVED the cake, and couldn't wait to eat it. He claimed the front part of the locomotive - so he could have both cookies and marshmallow. And frosting. LOVED the frosting. Come to think of it... I don't think he actually ate any of the cake!!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Photo Meme

Found this meme from dcrmom a while back. (Hence the poor blog etiquette of linking to her main page rather than her version of the meme that I can't find now!!)

Here's the deal. Type the answer to each question into a Google image search, and then pick an image from the first page of results. Okay? Here we go.

1. Age at next birthday:

(I am more than a little scared!!)

2. Place I'd like to travel:


3. Favorite place:


4. Favorite objects:


5. Favorite food:


6. Favorite color:


7. Nickname:


8. Place you were born:


Wanna play? Consider yourself tagged.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Album Cover

If you ever wanted to be a rock star and have your own album, now's your chance!! I grabbed this meme of sorts from Marie. Here's the rules:

You are about to have your own band's CD cover. Follow these directions to the letter to make your album cover. It's fun and requires no thought at all.

1. Go here first.
The first article title on the page is the name of your band.

2. Once you've got your band name, you need to title your album by going here.
The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.

3. The third picture on this page, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4. Use your graphics program of choice to throw them together, and post the result

Here's mine:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bridging the Gap

Last week my physics class studied solids. I found the material in the book to be a bit thin & lacking, so I tied in a unit on bridges, and then had them build toothpick bridges. They could only use glue to connect the toothpicks - and even then, they could only use it at connecting points (no coating the toothpicks in glue, etc.). They were graded on a few things, one of which was how much mass it could support.

Here was our first candidate:



Looks solid, but when testing begin.... not so much! We tested the bridges to failure - meaning when they broke or flexed more than 2cm. This one lasted about 1200g - only about 2.6 pounds.



Candidate #2 - they realized quickly that using triangles was much sturdier than anything flat. I loved that they did horizontal ties to simulate a roadway. It was also an incredibly light bridge.



In the end, it supported about 4400g (9.7 pounds) before it snapped.




Candidate #3 I nicknamed the Beast. EVERYTHING was triangles - including each individual beam (3 toothpicks glued together). It supported massive quantities of weight...



.... almost 13000g (close to 29 pounds!!) before it broke!


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Oxymoron with your coffee?

I know that license plate numbers are randomly assigned, but you would've thought the people at the factory would have caught this particular combination on this particular plate!!


Friday, January 11, 2008

This is how it begins, isn't it?

Bird took her first dance lesson today.

This whole thing just kind of snuck up on us, really. Activities and lessons were always something I'd imagine happening "eventually." As in "eventually she MIGHT be involved in something like that.

She did do a stint in gymnastics once, but considering that she was two at the time and spent more time running around than really doing anything, I'm not sure that it really counts. Not to mention the fact that she was really only doing that because her day care sitter was taking her own daughter to gymnastics.

It all came to a head earlier this week, when Bird went with her friend (the sitter's daughter) to her first dance lesson. She watched the entire thing from the sidelines, and when we got home that evening she asked me when her dance class was.

This is when I was apparently struck stupid, since I answered her with "But you don't go to dance classes."

To make a long story short (too late?!).... after a quick trip to register, a much longer trip to find the required shoes (thank you God for tap shoes in thrift stores! even if it took 5 thrift stores!) and tights, she took her first class today. There were only 3 students, and she was the oldest.

She loved every minute of it. Kept showing me all the moves at home. And my heart has grown even fuller with love.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Delurking is Delovely

Apparently this is National Delurking Week. So if you've been lurking, say hi!!! I promise not to bite you. Or be so bubbly and effusive as to scare you away either.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Monday, January 7, 2008

At least it wasn't REDRUM!

My inlaws gave Bird a new bike for Christmas, which has thrilled her to no end. Usually, she's content to ride it around our little cul-de-sac, but every once in a while she wants to broaden her horizons.


So one evening Husband did the big loop around our neighborhood: he was on foot, and both kids on their bikes (Bug's is a tricycle).


Since she's faster, Bird was usually going ahead of Bug and then waiting at the corners for him to catch up. This gave her lots of time to observe the neighborhood & make all sorts of comments to Husband.


At one point, though, she was making absolutely no sense. She'd been pointing out various letters on the road signs, but all of a sudden she just started telling Husband M-R-O-T-S.


He asked her what in the world she was talking about, but instead of answering she merely rode off to the next corner, only to repeat it to him. Finally, she pointed to where she saw the letters - right over a STORM drain.


Quite frankly, I'm impressed that she's reading them upside down & backwards!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Army Blogger

Quoting from Busymom:

Andrew Olmstead, a Major in the United States Army, and, blogger was killed in Iraq.
Now, I know you find this hard to believe, but, I'm not a big fan of political blogs, I really don't care about your stance on the war in Iraq, and, I just kind of stumbled into it, but, this is a must read.


I have never heard of him or his blog, but this was one heck of a read on a Sunday morning.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Sentiments I Hope She Keeps

A conversation between Bird and I this morning:

B: (as she snuggles into me) Mommy, I love you.
J: I love you too sweetheart.
B: I love Daddy, and Bug too.
J: I love Daddy and Bug as well.
B: And I love MYSELF!!
J: I'm glad to hear that.
B: Do you love yourself Mommy?
J: Yes, I do.
B: So we both love EVERYONE!

Sounds good to me. Wish more people had that thought.

Friday, January 4, 2008

An Unexpected Side Benefit

We have 2 'real' phones (i.e. landline phones) in our house: one in the kitchen, and one in our bedroom. The phone in the kitchen is your typical cordless phone/answering machine model.

Sometime in the last couple months, however, the cordless phone ceased to work. It's not a battery problem, cause all the displays & buttons kinda of work, but it refuses to actually ring or make a call - you know, those useful features! Since the phone in the bedroom is usually far from where we are & behind a closed door, we pretty much never hear the phone ring until the answering machine picks up.

Tonight, however, it's managed to screen THREE telemarketers who hung up before the outgoing message finished. THREE. That's three people I didn't have to ignore, shoot down, or just hang up on.

The weekend is starting to look rather good!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008