Friday, May 18, 2012

Solar Eclipse on Sunday!

Just in case I'm the only rocket scientist you know and you haven't wandered across a news story about this already, here's a little space news for ya...

On Sunday, around sunset, there will be a solar eclipse.  (Where the moon butts her way in between us and the sun, for those of you who haven't had astronomy classes in a while...)

annular eclipse - photo credit

Even when the moon has moved directly in front of the sun it won't completely cover the sun, it will just cover the center of it leaving a "ring of fire" eclipse ('annular eclipse' for you linguistic nerds.)

The western parts of the US should see the full eclipse.  Those of us in the Midwest won't get to see it all because the sun will set too soon. But we'll get to see the beginning of it.   It will probably look something like this...

...sans the beautiful ocean....

Here's a useful site that will show you what time you'll see the eclipse depending on what state you're in...( or country, my Canadian friends...)

Solar Eclipse by State

Wanna know how to watch it?  It's quite easy.

Please don't just look at the sun.  For some reason we have actually had to make that rule with our two older kids and I can't imagine Liam will completely develop without needing it too.  We'll just be riding in the car, look back and see a little one staring wide-eyed at the searing ball of fire that is our sun.  You can practically hear their rods and cones frying.  "NO LOOKING AT THE SUN!"

But it's easy to make a little pinhole viewer.  I'm making one for us, so here's a little tutorial:

You will need:

  • Part of a cardboard Eggo's box.  (Yes, I suppose any sort of cardboard would work)
  • White cardboard or very stiff paper (really anything flat and white.  A paper plate, a white notebook...)
  • aluminum foil
  • a pin
  • a solar eclipse

 1) cut a little window in your cardboard.  (Do not mock my cutting skills.)

2) tape aluminum foil over the window.  (No, I don't know why there's that extra piece of tape along the bottom.  It's bothering me, too.)

3) Put a pinhole in the middle of the aluminum foil.

4) Go find the sun.  Put the white paper down facing the sun, hold the pinhole between it and the sun.  move your pinhole closer and farther from the white paper until...Viola!  An image of the sun.

Yes, my image right now is round since the sun is looking pretty round today.  But during the eclipse it should look like the giant smile you're by now very excited to see.   And if you're far enough west then you may get to see the entire "ring of fire".

Here's a link to's website with a couple extra ideas for how to view it:

Or stay inside, ignore the outside world altogether, and check out one of the dozens of websites that will be showing it. I'll leave it to you to google one.

And, if you're feeling lazy, don't worry.  God made you millions of solar eclipse pinhole viewers.  

Go stand under a leafy tree and find something white to let the leaves' shadows fall on. The spaces between the leaves act like pinholes and you'll see dozens of little eclipses. 

photo credit

Now, if we could just keep clouds away on Sunday night.....

 Happy space watching!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Our Trip to Chicago - Highs by person

Last week we got to go to Chicago for a quick trip so Medman could re-certify in some sort of hero course.  Since Medman and I lived there during our dating years, we were excited to go back.

It was a little funny going back there after living in a small town for seven years, though. We used to giggle at the country folk who came to downtown Chicago, rubbernecking and snapping pictures.

I sometimes forget that our kids have never lived anywhere but our little town.  I don't think we have an escalator anywhere in town.  Do you know how excited they get about them?

D (dashing through the upscale snooty shoppers in Water Tower Place) : Let's take the excavator!  C'mon!

Belle (squealing with delight):  THIS IS SO FUN!!!!

Jason and I handled it with the disdain and boredom appropriate to grown ups who have spent most of their lives in cities.

He declared, "Let's race Mommy to the eighth floor!"

To which I maturely answered by racing off as fast as Liam's uber-cheap umbrella stroller could go to the elevator, pushed the button about a hundred times then yelled down the escalator from the eighth floor when they finally came into view that we'd been up there for hours and how did it possibly take them so long???

I'm fairly sure that the looks we were getting from the professional city slickers around us was one of love and appreciation for the fact that we were clearly a family that knows how to have fun.

I do think we have lost some "city skills."  Apparently seven years of waving cheerfully at friend and neighbor alike as you drive down the road has erased our ability to make "city face."  That face that looks serious, important and a bit detached even though you are surrounded by millions of people, most of whom are invading your personal space. 

We even saw a woman navigating Michigan avenue while reading a book.

I have skills. I can feed a baby while cooking dinner, convincing Belle that "tsunami" really starts with a t, not an s, and follow a convoluted story about race cars closely enough to ask educated questions at the right moments.  But I could not have made the trip she did unscathed, zig-zagging around people and cars with nary a glance up from her page.  Actually, the only time I saw her glace up was when she passed us.

So here's the highs and lows of the trip from each person's perspective. (No, I didn't ask any of them.  I'm just taking it upon myself to declare their highs and lows.  I believe that is within my maternal rights.)


High:  This was tough seeing as he thinks eating grass is a high, but probably the high for him was that he got held a lot because there were lots of floors I didn't want him crawling around grazing off of. 

Low:  He was unhappy but resigned about the hours in his car seat. 


High: Belle loves a good park.  She often comes up to me and says in her most excited voice, "Mommy, I have a grrrrRRREAT idea!!!  We could.... GO TO A PARK!!!"  This is always her great idea.  Morning, noon and night.    And boy did we find a good one.  Near our hotel was one with...
...a very cool playground...
...fountains that shot out water in the most unexpected places.  And by "unexpected places" I mean nailing Dalton right in the wazoo on more than one occasion...

...and the coolest little kid sized maze...

...the hedges were exactly one Belle tall...
Low: I don't think she had one.  The girl just had a good time. 

High:  This is easy.  While we were at this swanky little outdoor shopping area we happened to park next to a Lotus.   

And D sweet talked the owner into letting him SIT IN IT!

The boy could not be any happier. 
Low:  He had to get out of the Lotus. 


We had fun.  We ate at the Cheesecake Factory, 

got to window shop at cool stores like the Lego Store,

Are you wondering what Belle is looking at?

Yup, a Lego dragon coming out of the ceiling above her.
 And we got to get some good pictures.   We have a picture of ourselves that is at least 15 years old from the courtyard of a beautiful church on Michigan Avenue.  Well, we happened to walk by it and we still love this church.  Here are some of our pictures.  This peaceful place is literally feet from the bustle of Michigan Avenue.

Here's us 15 years ago.  Is it sad that I still own that coat?

And thankfully our oldest can work a cell phone, so here is us this weekend.
And the little family we've acquired since the first picture.

Oh, and a trip to the park bench where Jason proposed.  He brought me ice cream that day instead of flowers.  So of course I said yes.  Wise man. 

Lows:  Ummmm, there wasn't much.  A little antsyness on the way home when we were all ready to be out of the car, but overall a fun trip. 

Oh, and Medman is certified to be heroic again, so that's good too. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

A New Blog

This is a public service announcement to my countless readers. (Well, to Belle you would be countless because she can really only count up to about twelve, even though she used to be able to count to twenty.  That could not be the fault of her mother for never counting with her.  And sometimes she only gets to twelve because seven and eleven rhyme: 1,2,3,4,5,6,11,12.) 

I've started another blog.

Because I do such a great job keeping up on this one. 

Really because there are things I like to write about that don't quite fit here with all the yarns about my kids.  So I started another blog because I want to do more writing and if I put in in some sort of "published" form then it ensures that I at least complete my thoughts.

You can find it at "In the Tangles".  There's not much there yet, but hopefully I'll be adding some as I get more disciplined about writing.

Why "In the Tangles?"  Well, here's a blurb from my first post over there:

And so even though I can still see the thought a little bit farther ahead of me, it soon gets tangled in with all the other half-formed and unthunk thoughts and the feelings and hopes and fears that all wrap themselves together into a tangle. 

So hopefully it will work as an outlet for myself to get some writing done.  It seems like there are plenty of tangled up thoughts rattling around in my mind and writing is the way to sort them out. 

I don't think I'll mention it much on this blog so if you are interested in finding out when I post head over there and either become a follower or type your email address in the side where it cryptically says "Get posts sent to you by email." (You won't get any emails except when I post. And you all know how regularly I do that...)

Thanks so much for reading and commenting, everybody.  

It means a lot to me that you guys read my chatter.


Sunday, May 6, 2012


My friend Jen from Life Crafts & Whatever tagged me in a post about answering eleven questions (about 2 months ago - sorry Jen!).  Then my friend Erika did the same with a different set of questions.  So I'm combining it all here into one post.  (And 22 questions is a lot, so I'm going to weed out any that my answer would be so boring to that you'd all fall in to a coma.)  These things are sort of the blog world's version of a chain letter and you're supposed to tag other blogs when you're done.  Unfortunately Erika and Jen managed to already tag everyone in my blogiverse, so I'm just going to ignore that part.

I would like to preface everything here with a disclaimer, though.  It is a well documented fact (just ask my husband) that there is something in my psyche that refuses to pick favorites.  For many years I thought maybe this was some sort of defect.  Everybody has favorite everything.  Food, movies, song, etc.  But I like lots of food. And movies?  Impossible to decide.  Song?  I can't even tell you my favorite type of music.  So questions like these stress me out because I'm afraid I'm going to be held to my declared favorite forever.  Probably tomorrow, or later this afternoon, I'd pick different answers.  But I am going to answer these questions anyway.  Just for you all. 

1.  How did you decide to start blogging?
Um, I think I just got tired of remembering to email funny things my kids did to the grandparents, so I decided to put them all in one place online. Oh no!  I remember now.  I started it 'cause I have an Etsy shop and people promote their shops through blogs.  You can see it's worked fabulously.  Even I forgot this was for the shop. 

2.  What would be your dream job?
Writer, definitely.  Can you imagine if people paid you just to chatter in print?  Heaven.

3.  What is your favorite movie or book?
Can't possibly pick a favorite movie.  But one of my very favorite books is Pride and Prejudice. 

4.  Favorite food?
At this very moment it's the wings and cheesy corn we have every Friday night.  The meal is so good it's worth punching someone in the face and stealing their serving of it.   

5.  If you had an entire afternoon free, who would you want to spend it with?
Medman.  We've been married thirteen years, but he's still my fav.  Nothing fancy.  Just find somewhere pretty to sit and talk. Preferably somewhere tropical.

6.  What is the most significant goal you have achieved to date? 
 Uh, do other people have an answer to this?

7. What is your dream vacation?
Spend forever seeing the entire world.  I'd start in Ireland.  No, Italy.  No, New Zealand.  No, Bora Bora.  (See the problem with the favorites?)

8.  When you go to weddings, do you dance or sit like a bump? 
The way I see it, the world is split into two groups of people.  Sitters and Dancers.  Now the Dancers have pop culture on their side.  They have hit songs like, "When you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance."  And I'll give those dancers the benefit of the doubt that they mean well when they keep harassing us sitters to get up and dance.  Because for a dancer they aren't happy unless their dancing.

But dancers, please listen closely for a moment.  The sitters aren't sitting because they are sad or scared or shy.  They are sitting because they would rather sit.  Really, it is more fun for them to sit and chat and watch the dancers than actually go dance.  So please leave us alone and let us be happy without justifying ourselves.

And dancers, please remove the "like a bump" from questions like this.  Perhaps switch it out for "like the contented, well-rounded, secure people that you are."  Thank you.  You may now continue to shake your booties. 

If I were to write a hit country song it would go like this, "If you get the chance to sit it out or're probably somewhere with good food and hopefully a chocolate fountain...I hope you eat." 

9.  If you were going to volunteer for an organization, what would it be? Ronald McDonald House.  When baby Jack was in the hospital for months in Kansas City (three hours away from our house) the Ronald McDonald House let us stay on the very edge of the hospital property.  We could walk from our room to Jack's NICU in minutes.

The house was gorgeous.  It was huge and had everything we needed.  Hundreds of kind volunteers fed us dinner every night and provided a beautiful house with a playroom for Dalton who was only 15 months old.  Living in a hotel for three months would have cost all of our collective arms and legs. RMH provided us a loving home away from home for dollars a day.  Really people, it's a fantastic charity.  Support them whenever you can.  Next time you are in the McDonald's drive through, drop your change into the little container below the window that is for the Ronald McDonald House.  Heck, stuff a twenty in there.

10.  Favorite celebrity or sports star?  
Ok, not only do I not have favorites, but I don't really follow celebrities.  I know, lots of you are shaking your heads, but someone has to be uber famous for me to know who they are.  And sports stars?  Well, some of them are nice and all, but when they screw up they tend to do it big so I try not to get too attached.  

And they are just allowed to get away with such low production in their jobs that it's annoying.  Take baseball players.  If they hit a third of the balls pitched at them they're doing well.  Let's see a show of hands, how many of the rest of you would still be employed if you only were successful at one third of the things you tried?

How about if I only fixed one third of the meals people wanted around here?  Wiped a third of the poop off Liam's butt?  Only washed a third of the laundry? Oh wait, that's been working out just fine for years.  Still, my point stands.  

11. What did you want to be when you grew up... when you were 6?   

12. What's the most challenging part of maintaining a blog?  
Are these things supposed to be maintained?

13. What is the best vacation you've ever taken? 
Oooooh this is a hard question.  We've had some great ones.  The one that I have the strongest memories of was when Medman and I went to Puerto Vallarta for a week.  It was in August (the very hot, very stormy, very much off season) and it was fairly spur of the moment.  I saw an ad online and spent the evening telling Medman about how we should go.  I had him excited about it too until I mentioned that the trip would be booked through Travel By Bob.  It was a harder sell after that.

But we did go and it was a great week.  Time almost stopped as we hung out in a mostly deserted resort (Sometime I'll blog about The Embarcadero.  Let's just say it was...lovably quirky.  Really, the whole trip is calling out for a set of blog posts) and sat on our balcony watching the most amazing thunderstorms every night.  Oceans, swimming with dolphins, night time cruises, bartering with the locals.  (You'll agree with me that this trip needs a set of blog posts when you know that of all this the "bartering with the locals" part is what is going to send my husband into gales of laughter.) Seven days of heaven.

14. What is something about you most people would never guess? 
My degree is in rocket science.  (Hmm, it suddenly sounds a little sad that no one would ever guess I was a rocket scientist. I wonder what that says about me?  Or what I think of rocket scientists?  Or what I think of everyone else...) It is of no help to me in my daily life except that I get to always be the definitive answer on whether someone is speaking truthfully when they say, "Well, it's not rocket science."  As you can imagine, my skills are not needed often.

15. What is the song that is stuck in your head and you want to share just so other people have to suffer too?  
Belle sang "Ladybug on a Pushlight" tonight, so that one's in my head for probably the next week.  I have no way to share it, though.  If you see one of my kids, ask them to sing it for you.  You'll thank me.