Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gatlin - STS - Day 1

611 miles

across 7 States and 1 "District"
1 driver (someone decided to not mention her license was expired before we departed...grrrr)
We loaded the ark and called out for all local animals who wanted to drive south to safety away from the New England Biblical floods...and began our own "mission" - the Gatlin - Spring Trip South. Our ultimate goal is to cheer on our friend Col Jim Dutton as he Pilots STS-131 Discovery into space in a few days.

Here are a few highlights from the day.

The van loaded to the gills...

Kristi is the best mom ever and packs a special treat for the kids as we enter a new state. The treat somehow relates to the new state, sometimes obviously, and sometimes more abstractly. A couple of examples - CT - where vulcanized rubber was invented - the kids got a pack of oreos that represented tires; MD - apparently there is a law in MD that says you cannot take a lion to the movies - so they were given a pack of animal crackers and were encouraged not to take any of the animals to the theater.

The kids do remarkably well on road trips. However, honestly, it's not that tough for them. Unlimited movies and DS/Gameboy time does wonders for the oldest 3 for keeping them happy, quiet and entertained. When we were kids, all we had were passing cars and scenery to pass the time with. Lucy did very well and did not force any extra potty stops - but she did force the first stop of the day by pouring out her water bottle all over herself just a couple hours into the trip. She provided plenty of entertainment by singing and making crazy noises many times during the trip. However, she didn't eat very well; at dinner, I think she only ate the whipped cream off her pancakes.

Our route took us through Washington DC. This week is the peak of the Cherry Blossoms. We just couldn't pass up a chance to see that again, although we didn't want to extend our trip any more than necessary. Do you remember the National Lampoons European Vacation movie? Look kids Big Ben, Parliament? We had the DC version today. Look kids, the Washington Monument, Cherry Blossoms.

The detour into the heart of the city caused us to hit something we don't miss about DC. Traffic.

Ugh. We saved a few minutes in the HOV car-pool lanes, but still had an extended drive in the afternoon hours.
We finally made it to our hotel and stop 1, Williamsburg VA, after 13 1/2 hours on the road. Before space, we step back in time to early America...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Out of this World

We're prepping for our big trip to Florida and the STS-131 launch with lots of fun space-related activities, and experiments.

Newton's Third Law being demonstrated above--for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The exciting part was that today, nearly a week after we did this activity, Mary was able to relate her knowledge from this experiment to something we were reading about satellites. Rock on!

We're also creating more lapbooks. Sometime I should go into detail on the lapbooks for those of you who don't know about them and are curious, but for now suffice it to say that they are fast becoming our favorite way to record what we're learning. I'm, as usual, learning as I go and gleaning lots of information from the internet, but I could probably really benefit from a teacher's workshop on these things

Mary used NASA's website to learn that she would weigh only 7 pounds on the moon. Just a few days before we take this school on the road!

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Stars Wars and Hockey?

We made a trek to the Lowell Devils Hockey game on Fri night. It was an odd combination...bobble-head doll night, Air Force Night and Star Wars character night. It was great for my kids but a little crazy if you ask me. I took the three old kids as well as a couple of neighbor kids.
We made it to the arena well before the game started and got our food and settled in for a fun time.

I was the lone adult with the group so every time we needed a bathroom break or more food - I had to make the run. One of the kids was old enough to take them, but I didn't want to burden him too much with the kids.

Lots of fun characters were there...Darth Vader and a tie-fighter pilot

A storm trooper

Some Jedi Knights

Some bounty hunters and more imperial forces.

And my personal favorite -Chewbacca. The Chewy guy even had the wookie groan down pretty well.
The base organized a party room before the game with pizza, subs, and soda for an extra fee on each ticket. I decided not to buy those tickets and instead just purchased seats. By the time I ordered soda, pizza, dogs, and more - I think I would have saved money with their deal.
Oh well. The kids had a great time! BTW - the devils lost 4-2, and the fights were only so-so.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St Patrick's Day Fun

I don't know if you've noticed this about me or not, but I'll take any excuse to celebrate. So although I'm not Irish, the fun of wearing green and worrying about trickster leprechauns is always worth it. Those leprechauns did not disappoint, either. Again, this year our milk was GREEN when we got downstairs in the morning.
The weather was cooperative, too, so we spent a lot of school in recess. I opened up the brand new sidewalk chalk for everyone to color with--rainbows with pots of gold, shamrocks and eventually a city filled the circle. The kids spent the afternoon riding their bikes on the "road," stopping at the "airport," or going to their "jobs," all drawn in chalk on the sidewalk, driveways and road.
The big kids played with the big box of chalk, and Lucy got to use the box of big chalk. And while we're talking about Lu, check out that combination of greens. Whoa.

One of my friends is equally enthusiastic about celebrating. Perhaps even more so!
We ended the day with Irish Beef Stew, Irish Soda Bread, Jell-O jigglers cut out in the shape of shamrocks, and our family tradition -- Leprechaun Fizz. This is perhaps the St. Patrick's Day highlight for the kids. A simple beverage, that proves hard to produce. Lime sherbet, the key ingredient, is not so easy to find--at least not here. After four stores I was finally able to locate Key Lime frozen yogurt to substitute. A little Ginger Ale on top, and it's an official Ceilidh.
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Monday, March 15, 2010

One Man's Trash...

Recently one evening, Lucy and I were looking at the back of one of our favorite Sandra Boynton board books. She was noticing the pictures of other books, some of which we have, others which we have borrowed from the library. One in particular she mentioned was in the trash.

Kristi: What? No, Lucy, it's not in the trash. We returned it to the library.
Lucy: Uh hunh. It's in the library's trash.
I paused to think for a moment and then realized she was right.

Friday, March 5, 2010

All Good Things Must Come To An End

More important than what is visible in the following picture is what is not visible in it.
Freedom Rink is closed. We had too many days of warm weather. Unfortunately when I say warm, I don't actually mean spring-is-almost-here-buds-are-about-to-bloom-warm, I simply mean it was above 32 and below 40. Which was all it took. This season was considerably easier to empty than last year--mostly because it was so melted, Ted was able to set up a siphoning system to drain the water. Last year it was a whole neighborhood event pushing out the slush one afternoon. This time Ted set up the hose on a Friday and by Saturday afternoon he was able to disassemble the frame.
Now we are in negotiations to turn the ice rink frame boards into a Ga-Ga frame.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


This past Tuesday we had a stupendous day celebrating Dr. Seuss's birthday during school. Beginning with the infamous hat, of course!
Unfortunately, I hadn't bought eggs, so we could not do green eggs and ham, but we did make blue fish and red fish cookies to share with all of our friends at swimming lessons (One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish). After swimming, we returned to our house to discover that Thing 1 and Thing 2 had been there, and they left a trail of destruction in their wake. (The Cat in the Hat) All the Dr. Seuss books had been arranged into letters around the house (not surprisingly, the letter "T" for Thing, or perhaps for Ted ;) who knows), chairs were backwards, a stool was upside down, couch cushions were on end, and they left little pictures of themselves around the house, too.

Beyond Tuesday, we spent many days last week anticipating Dr. Seuss's Birthday with various lead in activities, especially Cory and me. Cory did a lot of activities to correlate with a whole host of Dr. Seuss books. We put most of his work into a lapbook, which was a lot of fun for him. Late last week, all of us spent an afternoon playing with Oobleck. This was a fun, ooey-gooey afternoon, with a little science snuck in there for good measure. (Bartholomew and the Oobleck)

We also organized an impromptu creature creating party with our neighbors. (There's a Wocket in My Pocket) One of the other moms offered her house as a gathering spot, and we all brought a few craft supplies and recycled treasures for the kids to use as materials to make a Seuss-inspired character. Mary and her bud Elisabeth show off theirs.

Mary made two. The one on the left is Van Voogle, a weather predicter, and the one on the right is the Rabble Babble Boy, a duck-talking critter. She made up quite an interesting tale about Van Voogle--if I can persuade her to edit and revise it, I might have to post it in a later blog.

Lucy and I made one, too.

And here are all the kids showing off their creations.

The best part of the celebration, by far, was on her stomach was a scar. Oops, wrong book. I've been reading Madeline to Lucy at bedtime, and I couldn't help myself. Where was I? Oh yes, the best part is that Dr. Seuss will now be a part of the Gatlin family history. Last week Cory sat down and read his first book--Ten Apples Up on Top, written by Seuss using one of his pen names Theo LeSieg.
So thank you, Dr. Seuss.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Aww, Mom, Why Can't I Stab Them?

Teaching a boy is never boring. At least, teaching my boy isn't. Let me see if I can relate today's experience...

Cory's phonics program has him marking vowels and blends in his words. Currently he's identifying one-vowel words with a short vowel sound like in the word 'cat', two-vowel words with a long vowel sound like in the word 'like' , and short words with a long vowel sound like in the word 'go.' Among other things, in the long vowel words, he is supposed to cross out the vowel that is silent. Today he thought it would be much more fun to stab the silent vowels.

These, he told me, were spears. When I suggested he not do that, he seemed quite disappointed. Who would have thought I would hear these words, "Aww, Mom! Why can't I stab them?" Then I decided he had found a way to make this task a little more fun, and I surely didn't want to discourage that. That's what those silly vowels get for refusing to make any sounds in our words! Luckily, he's at a school where he won't get suspended for drawing "weapons" on his school work.

This reminds me of the beginning of the school year, when all his O's were written with the sound of bombs exploding. Boys.

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