Saturday, March 28, 2009

I paid $50 for that!

I was out of town this week and come home to find the Blog full of stories of my slackness - wait just a doggone minute. Let me tell you my side:

Last week Kristi says "Ted I don't think you understand - I really want this." She hands me a flyer from the mail. We get flyers like this all the time supposedly offering really good deals. Mostly it's just marketing. Well the flyer has a set of flowers circled. Kristi always likes fresh flowers but rarely so pointedly and specific. So I file it away and take the flyer to work. Later that day I place the order - with much consternation because we live on base and getting deliveries on base can be a challenge. The UPS guys can get on without issue, but some local deliveries like flowers sometimes mean more hassle than "ease" with delivery. If you have to meet them at the gate is it really a delivery? While I was in Iraq I ordered flowers a couple of times and I remember she said one florist was better than another (of course I don't remember who that was). I called K and asked if she preferred a specific florist. I mean there was no surprise in this love offering so why add disappointment with the delivery. Luckily she does not remember the preferred Flow$r maker either. I make my best guess and schedule the delivery for a day I will be out of town. I'm trying to spin this for my good. She gets the flowers and all is well. I make her happy fulfilling a specific request. When I come back I won't have to sleep in the doghouse.

Fast forward to Thursday and I come home late at night.The house is quiet and dark because all are in bed. I see the small arrangement of flowers on the table. My first thought is that K has split the flowers into two pieces...because what I ordered was much bigger than this. I also knew I had paid for an upgrade beyond the small arrangement she circled in the flyer. Oh well - I think little of it and go to bed.

The next day I see her blog. And I can't help but to laugh. I honestly never heard or saw her first two requests. She fretted about nagging me but I only heard the one I can't call it nagging.

I posted this picture so you can see some relative size. This thing is less than 12 inches tall. Upgrade - whatever. The card at the top is almost as big as the flowers. Flori$t$ are just out to get your money. I'm going back to my old habits of buying fresh cut flowers from the grocery store. I think you get so much more...she feels the love...and you can still afford to buy Chipotle for lunch.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

As You Wish

A week or so ago we got a flier from our insurance company with special "deals" for their customers. We get these regularly, and they're for things we really have no need for--like expensive jewelry and flowers. Your basic junk mail. I thumbed through a recent one with the floral specials, and found one I loved. I circled it and put it on top of the stack of mail. Ted seemed to totally disregard it, so the next day I said something about it, telling him I would like that particular floral arrangement. He still seemed to be not listening (or at least that's how it seemed to me), so I gave him a more overt clue, telling him that he needed to buy these for me. That seemed to do the trick. He made the arrangements (I kill myself), and these beautiful flowers (with my favorite flowers-daisies) now adorn my table.

I wonder how Ted would tell this story.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Taking a Sunday Stroll--Cory Style

Our son has it tough--he's one boy surrounded by three girls, and things in our house are often pink. He seems to take it in stride, though, and can be seen playing house with the girls one minute and shooting with his gun the next minute.

Recently, he's taken quite an interest in caring for Lauren, the Bitty Baby doll Mary Beth inherited from her cousin Sarah, and who is now technically Lucy's. Cory likes to make sure Lauren has pajamas on at night and clothes on in the morning. On Sundays he tries to select church dresses. He has a diaper bag packed for her, and occasionally feeds her various meals. He often brings her in the car with us, but usually we don't allow him to take her in to places--this distressed him quite a bit at the Museum of Science this past February because he wanted to be able to show her all the cool things inside.

He's also not allowed to take her outside to play--she's a very special doll, and we don't want her getting left outside to be lost, or muddied in the ground. And yet, since he truly is a boy through and through, here is another good reason not to let him bring her outside. This is what he did with one of his other babies, Melanie, this past weekend (who he picked to take outside after I told him he wasn't allowed to bring out Lauren).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pause It

Today during a bedtime story Cory said to me, "Pause it while I go get my blankie."

Methinks we DVR too much!

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's Spring? Really? Because I'm Still Cold

J C Monahan, our trusty weather forecaster (or as Ted likes to call them, weather guessers) announced this morning that our highs would not get out of 30 degrees on this, the FIRST DAY OF SPRING! So, I made sure that the kids had a pair of gloves for school, and I then took the rest of them to wash and put away. It's the first day of spring! Surely we're almost done with these things. right? please?

While I was at it, I started pulling things out of closets so I could put away all the hats, gloves and snowpants that aren't destroyed.

Bedding was next. Surely we don't need flannel sheets anymore--it is the Vernal Equinox, after all. So I stripped everyone's beds and began the arduous task of laundering everything to get put away.

Look at those beautiful flannel sheets, all fresh and clean! Now, off to the newly cleaned closet you go!
Here's the bag of snowpants and snow gear that is no longer usable...too many holes to be waterproof and warm.
Lastly, I pulled out my spring tablecloth--so bright and airy! Makes me smile just to think of it. Flowers for the table are in the near future, for sure.

And here's what happens when Mommy is busy working--Lucy finds ways to entertain herself. First trying on snowbibs.Then getting into the bandaids. Cory's favorite camo bandaids, no less.

Actually, I've been preparing/hoping for spring's arrival for a week or so. Here are some for the garden plants we've started from seeds. The pumpkin seeds were from our pumpkins that Cory grew last summer. In another month and a half (read--forever until it really is warm and springy) we'll be able to transplant these outside.

This afternoon I joined the other parents in the middle of our circle while the kids ran around, rode their bikes and rollerbladed. Can I just say it was COLD? I mean, really, who do I think I am kidding? Look at these trees. Not a bud in sight!
Now where did I put those gloves?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's the ISS

It's that time again. NASA sent up the Discovery Space Shuttle on the ides of March--obviously no one at NASA takes much stock in Shakespeare's foreboding line "beware the ides of March." We gathered the kids around the television to watch the event Sunday evening--kind of like gathering around the radio in days gone by. Today it docked with the International Space Station, and tonight we watched them go across our sky--it was a banner night, too, going from one side of the sky, across the middle to the other side. Six minutes in the sky (oftentimes it's only 1 or 2 minutes if anything). We were well-prepared for it, too. We got the camera set up on the tripod, checked the instruction manual, and set the camera to take a picture with the shutter open for an extended period. Here's a picture of the space station and docked shuttle streaking across our sky.
Check NASA's Space Station page to link to the sightings page and see when the Space Station (and the shuttle while it's orbiting and/or docked) will be visible in your sky.

Happy Birthday to a real shining star who is 40 years beautiful today. We love you!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Son, What You Have is Rotten Ice

I had two big brains do some "eenernet" searching and apparently Freedom Rink's ice became rotten or honeycomb ice. It all has something to do with the Hydrogen bonds.

Rotten ice is loose term for ice that is melting, disintegrating, or otherwise formed, having water, air or contaminants between ice grains, causing the ice to be honeycombed. It forms on open water, when snow pack and ice are mixed together and other conditions. It may be transparent, causing it to look like new black ice. Though it may appear strong, rotten ice is weak — even several feet thick may not hold a person's weight (although it may hold a dog sled's weight). On land, it is difficult or impossible to climb. It melts more quickly than solid ice. Candle Ice is a form of rotten ice.

I don't think it was rotten in Jan-Feb when we spent all that time on it, but became rotten as the temps stayed closer to 32 degrees in late Feb early Mar.

Regardless - it was cool to crunch up and see the small, pencil-like crystals. We'll have to add all this to next year's Freedom Circle's Home School curriculum.

Thanks Chemist Uncle Ben and MIT Jon.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"Daddy you said it was going to be fun" - MB

We traveled north an hour or so today to see a sugar house in operation. We visited Folsom's Sugarhouse with our good friends for a little peek into the workings of a maple syrup operation. Before we left, we scouted out the area for a lunch place, because if there's one thing we've learned about New England it's that you can't count on normal restaurants in every city. Knowing we would be a group of 12, we wanted to make sure we had an idea of where we could eat lunch before we left, lest we drive around for an hour looking for something (and, yes, this has happened to us before). Isn't St. Google wonderful? All I had to do was use their maps function to find restaurants at the exit...and God must have been smiling down on us because, among other restaurants, there was a CRACKER BARREL! #1--they have great food & sweet tea and #2--they can manage a large group. Score.

After lunch, we continued to Folsom's, a small, family-run operation. The sugar house smelled calories in smelling! The biggest concern was that it was a fairly small little place with a giant evaporator in the middle of the room that was Hot, Hot, Hot--keep back kids. Outside there were a few trees that were tapped (they claim the trees are not hurt when tapped, but I've never heard a tree talk, so really I think the jury's still out on that one) and we could watch the sap flowing.
It tastes mildly sweet straight out of the tree, but really more like just water. It doesn't leave your fingers sticky, either.

The kids had little fun during our expedition--the art of the simple things is, unfortunately, kind of lost on them. If it doesn't light up, play a jingle, or otherwise engage them, they kind of tune out. That's a shame. They did, however have fun

sliding down the slice of a giant tree (the kids claimed it was 140 years old--no one counted, though),

running through the snow and climbing on the piles of snow,

and splashing in the muddy drive.

After we had seen all there was to see, we checked out their store to purchase some maple products. We left with some maple syrup (of course), some maple candies for the kids (who were marginally well behaved) and some maple bbq sauce. The BBQ sauce has me a little humored. There are things that New England does remarkably well, like snow removal, fall colors and Boston Cream Pie, but I'm just not sure that BBQ sauce is one of them. They have a tough act to follow, too, because my uncle sent some of his M R Pigs BBQ sauce for Christmas this past year, and I must say we all LOVED it. We'll have to follow up with our loyal readers on the BBQ sauce.
Tomorrow's breakfast menu will most likely include pancakes :)
Alternate Title - "The Kids Are Stuck in Folsom Prison And Time Keeps Dragging On" - but we thought we'd have to explain that one too much. Bow to St Google if you don't get it on your own.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham--or Spinach

Earlier this month schools and children around the nation celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday. Our girls' school was no different (other than the fact that on his birthday we had a snow day). However, they had already planned an activity that culminated on the Friday after, so all was well. The kids were encouraged to make a hat with their parents that demonstrated some vocabulary word. Mary Beth picked RIVALRY. Her hat was a baseball hat with an enlarged logo-half of it was the Red Sox half of it was the Yankees.

Riley chose the word DAZZLING. She made a crown shaped hat from a file folder and decorated it with glitter. That's always a fun project to clean up.

A picture of Mary Beth in her hat was in today's base paper--according to our kids that means she's famous.

In other news, we went to dinner tonight. No Dr. Pepper, no Coke at this fine establishment. Guess that means alcohol! So, I ordered a beer--and got asked for my ID. Ted did, too. Some might say I should be flattered. I can't say I was flattered, not really annoyed either--just kind of 'huh'? Lucy took her usual residence--in Ted's lap eating Ted's food. Well, I don't think she really ate any of his food, just used a french fry as a means of eating ketchup. Cory was disappointed in the pizza that he had, so I offered him some of my panini. After a few bites (which he seemed to like) he asked me what was in it. I told him chicken, olives, cheese, spinach, pesto. He stops me. "Did you say spinach?" "Yes," I replied. Then he promptly put what was left back on my plate. Kind of makes me think of a reverse Green Eggs and Ham... I do not like them Sam I am!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Freedom Rink Addendum: Ice Columns

When we broke up the rink we had some large chunks of ice remaining. As we played with them we noticed they had some funny shapes. It appears the glacier was made of small pencil shaped columns that were all stuck together. Here's a pic of what it looked like when you dropped a big chunk.
You could apply pressure on the sides of the chunks and the groups of columns would break apart into individual pieces. The columns did not have a specific pattern. They were similar but not in a crystal like way.

I did a quick search on St Google, but couldn't find anything to help me explain this phenomena. It appears the ice had strength on top (where we skated) but not on the sides when we picked up a chunk and squeezed. I know the ice formed from the top and worked down, but you could not see this pattern of columns from the top. My engineer brain is very intrigued by this, mostly because I just don't understand it.

Maybe my chemist Uncle can help me explain what this is all about?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Freedom Rink: Final Edition

We had our last skate of the year this week. The weather has been crawling towards Spring. I knew the end was near so I encouraged the kids to go out and get one last skate. Half the rink was snow and not ice, but we were able to shoot the puck around and they skated for a few minutes.

This weekend the temps were in the 50-60 region. And the ice really melted. We still had a large glacier in the middle, but I know we won't get enough of a cold spell to make it skateable again.

You can just barely see how the pressure of the ice has bowed the frame. I must admit it has held together very well despite the crude construction. The picture doesn't do justice to the amount of bowing on the sides.
At first I was ready to flood the entire area. Just pull the tarp down and let the water find it's way to the sea. I was a bit nervous about flooding the neighbor, but guessed the yard's slant would keep it from being too much trouble. Neighbor (fearful of being flooded) suggested I use a hose to siphon off a majority of the water. I thought it was a good idea. I had often used the same method to get water off our pool cover when I was a kid. I set up the hose to drain into the creek behind our cul-de-sac and then, after a few long draws on the hose the draining began.

Cory enjoyed taking his bat to the ice to "help it melt."
A couple of hours later I decided this was taking too long. I was about to do some real flooding. Neighbor again suggested an alternative solution. Two hoses. So we tried that. A couple hours later and the large pond is still there. I wanted to get the whole rink up and out. I knew the base would not be pleased at my unauthorized swimming pool (although all the kids were excited about it) and I was concerned about all the little kids. Even though it wasn't that deep - I wanted to remove the temptation. Hey I've gotta keep the tarp good for next year and kids with rocks would just lead to rips and tears.

My buddy suggests we build a canal/aqueduct kind of thing to help flow the water and keep his shed from flooding. It would speed up the process and allow me to get all this cleaned up on a nice day. By this time I have a large portion of the circle out watching and helping. I decide strike while the iron is hot. Let's do it. First we had to gather enough tarps and lawn furniture to protect the shed area.

I removed some of the higher elevation boards that no longer had water pressing against them to help build the canal.

Then we had to remove the boards without destroying the tarp. The exterior boards were too high in the deep end, so we removed the top row and began the flood. It was exciting for a few minutes. I yelled for Kristi to get the movie camera so you missed the rush of water, but here's the same drainage area, just less volume a few minutes later.

The lower board was a little tricky but we got it figured out. Now we were left with lots of ice on the tarp. I wanted that to be moved off so we could pick up the tarp and boards. We are supposed to get snow tomorrow - it won't stick or stay - but it would add more water for me to get rid of, so cleaning it all up today was a bonus.

Then someone decided push brooms would help. A couple of people volunteered and we swept the tarp clean. We pulled in one end while they swept the remnants of the ice out our exposed corner. Neighbor is a diver, so he came out into the ice with his wetsuit booties and gloves to pick up large chunks of ice and sweep it out. Everyone else was in tennis shoes getting their feet cold and wet.

We pulled out the stakes and posts then piled the lumber. I felt like it was some sort of community project as we shared a beer and marveled at our work. Here's a video of the last pull on the tarp.

My neighbors rock!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

John Wooden or Bobby Knight?

Today was the final game of my inaugural season as Basketball coach. I led the "Hanscom Red Bullets" through a very successful season. The team was a mix of 1st and 2nd graders. It was a co-ed team and Mary Beth was on the team (the main reason I was coaching). I'm not sure if I have the natural talent of Wooden or Knight, but I do have an interest in teaching others the greatest life-sport game around.

I found it very difficult at first. The kids were so young and had such a small attention span. In this age it is all about the basics. No scores kept, no fouls unless it is really blatant, coaches double as refs, defense is man to man and you wear a colored wrist-band to show you who you are supposed to guard (half-court only).

Practices were the most challenging aspect. I was alone (no assistants), the kids all just want to mess around, and there is very little focus from them on getting better. I slowly learned to use basic skill drills, interweave some conditioning to change the pace and then try to reduce the game down to small pieces that they could understand. Work ethic really showed even at this age. Some kids ran laps to perfection, and others just wanted to be in front of their buddy.

It got old working on dribbling drills, but by the end of the season I could see some real improvement in many of the kids.

I found it difficult to take things down to such a young level. I've played with adults for so long I couldn't get in the groove with the kids who were just learning the basics: what's a throw-in, what do you mean crash the boards, I don't want to throw it to him - he's not my friend.

In the end, we had some good games where they passed and shared the ball. They learned to be aggressive on defense without hacking, and they seemed to have a good time. I hope they are all still enjoying the game at age 36 like me.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Freedom Rink - An Inconvenient Truth

It has come to my attention that I have some lib's closely associated with the family. Not the immediate family mind you. I'd have queued up some remedial Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and Holy Bible study lessons if that were the case. No there are pockets of less than conservative thought existing within the two sets of extended families.

To make those on the left feel more comfortable with Freedom Rink - I wanted to point out how global warming impacts everyone. You see Freedom Rink can do more than just entertain. It's also a lesson about life. Our Environment is decaying all around us, and Freedom Rink brings that same issue into my back yard. The poor arctic animals are losing habitats faster than you know. Just the other day I saw a Polar Bear floating along on an iceberg as Freedom Rink started to melt.

These poor animals don't have the vast areas of Freedom they used to have. They go out in search of food and suddenly the ice breaks and then they are stuck. Unfortunately, it's not just bears that are experiencing the shrinking habitats.

Those cuddly baby seals suffer from similar troubles. Who would have thought we could not coexist - military families and furry white animals. This little pup must have wandered too far from mommy's watchful eye.

I went out with a hockey you the little guy. We called out for his maternal guardian, and sure enough she soon floated by. Thankfully, the family is back
together again. Hunting for the few morsels of food still available.

There was great concern that this was a long term trend. Warming could ruin Freedom Rink forever. Thankfully a good old Nor'Easter storm has fixed all that. Temps below freezing and double digit snow fall has the circle of life back in sync. The kids were out having an old fashioned snowball fight. The rink is covered in snow and needs a few days to get back into a solid state. I think we might get one more good skate out of it. All is right in Freedom Circle.

Any of you PETA lovers out there - No animals were harmed in the making of this Blog.

Next up for Freedom Rink - It's too loud - Lower the Volume!