Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winter Concert

It's been a busy week, and I've got cool photos of NEW pets in Nate's class.

But it's also time for bed, and I didn't want to zoom off before I shared a little taste of our evening.

It was the winter concert for Kelly and her friends tonight.

She dressed up, and got to use make-up, too. And her outfit of choice should make Auntie J just a little bit proud.

Here she is...

Yes, J. That's the blazer that you got her for Christmas. Ladies size 0.

My little girlie is growing up.

But I still think of her like this:

Dirt. It's like real make-up, but cheaper.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Butterflies are Free

In Nate's class, there are many distractions.

First, we have the toads. The kids love the toads.

Shhhh. Don't tell anyone, but when the toads were here over the break, I let Nate and his buddy Q handle the toads. The toads seemed to enjoy their time in the boys hands. Maybe because I made the boys wash their hands with hot water and no soap, and then dip their hands in the toad tank, so they were wet, hot, and not-smelly-at-all. The toads almost seemed to enjoy climbing up into the boys' hands. And then, if you're not paying attention, Toxanne will just climb right up your arm.

It's kind of creepy, actually. They feel like jello jigglers that have been left out to dry out a bit, and then have been sprayed down, so they're a little bit wet, but kind of mooshy, and very jiggly. And they sort of stick to you.


Anyways, the kids in the classroom know that they are not allowed to touch the toads, but they still set up camp near the toad tank, and watch their every move. I like to think it's educational. But I think the boys are just waiting so they can say things like "I saw Poison go poop, and you didn't!" and "I wonder if they burp after they swallow a cricket whole"

Then we've got the praying mantis egg case. It's like watching paint dry. Nothing's really happening, but the kids keep vigilant.

I've somehow managed to keep ten poinsettias alive and blooming since the first of December. Those plants distract the kids, ever since I said that the leaves ooze poison if they're cut. Heh.

And now, there's a big butterfly house in the classroom, because the kids have been watching Painted Lady metamorphosis. We got the little caterpillars when they were about the size of grains of rice. They grew at an alarming rate, and within a week were as long as my finger nail. Then a week later, they were as long as the first joint of my thumb, and *blammo*! they were spinning their little chrysalis thingies.

Alas, the butterflies hatched over the mid-winter break, so the kids didn't get to see that little miracle (well, except for the kid who's dad took the butterfly house home. He watched, and took notes. Very diligent child there. Or maybe he just likes recounting the tale of the butterfly that emerged without legs, and the one that got stuck in its chrysalis and suffocated, and stuff like that. Heh.

Anyways, we're waiting for nice weather to release the butterflies, and it looks like we'll be waiting a while, as a bit storm moved in today, so I thought I'd better get in some photo opportunities before they all croaked.

(oh, speaking of croaking, I wonder if the toads would eat the butterflies if they were offered... classroom cannibalism, y'know)

I went into the classroom this afternoon, and set up shop in the back room of the class. And while the kids were writing letters to their penpals, I took the kids back one at a time for a little photo shoot.

I thought I'd put the butterflies on a slice of orange (this is a Moro Blood Orange), and have the kids hold the orange, but the blood orange was too acidic and tangy, and the butterflies didn't like it One Bit, so I had to resort to wedges of a clementine.

Some of the kids' "Butterfly Portraits" turned out REALLY well. I was amazed that my camera actually took such great photos while the storm was pounding down around us. It must be that spiffy external flash.

I'm exploring the Picasaweb online link to Walgreens photo lab, and will be picking up the portraits tomorrow morning before I go to tutor in the classroom. This way, each kid gets a photo for their homework folder tomorrow. And I'm bringing my camera back tomorrow, too. I missed getting shots of two of the kids (that had to leave early today). And then the Canon of Butterfly Holders will be complete.

Honestly, I could've taken photos of the kids holding the butterflies All Day Long. What fun!

I wonder if I'll be able to get them to hold the praying mantises so easily, if they ever hatch...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chinese Firecrackers

When we were up in Chinatown last week, we stopped into a bunch of curio and souvenir shops.

At one place, while I was picking up a (super cheap!) silk-covered glasses case for Kelly, I noticed these lovely sticks-with-streamers. When I asked the lady behind the counter, she said they were fireworks for Chinese New Year. Like sparklers, but multi-colored.

And each pack of six was only a dollar?

Sign me up!

I don't have a photo of the actual sparklers un-lit, but they're lovely and sort of magic-wand like. Maybe I can get a good shot this afternoon, if I can ever get some natural light in the house... it's foggy, but I think it's gonna turn into a nasty rain storm before noon, and the house is all grey and huddling inside.


Last night, it was pretty lovely outside, so when we got home from dropping Skip off at Kung Fu, I took the Littles into the back yard, and they got to have some sparkler fun.

Man alive, though, do those things ever give off a lot of smoke and smell. I hope the neighbors don't think we were burning down the house.

[insert Talking Heads musical interlude here. Because that is now my ear worm...]

There were six sticks, so Nate got three, and Kelly got three, and they took turns setting them off.

First, Kelly lights Nate's sparkler. Some of these shots had a real Harry Potter magic wand sort of vibe. It was fun!



The sparkers weren't your basic fizzy sparklers, either. They'd hiss and pop, and BLAMMO! and honestly, it kind of felt dangerous.

I'm sure that's what made everything That Much More Fun.

Allo homora!

Dangerous! I mean check this out! It's so bright, it gives Kelly a dark shadow! Like daylight!

In retrospect, I think we probably were quite lucky to come away from this with our vision intact, and our house and land not singed.

But hey, it was a lot of fun for a dollar.

And we still have six more sticks for another night.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Thursday, Chinatown

Last week, our class had done a field trip to Chinatown as the city prepared for Chinese New Year.

One of Nate's BFF's had a fever that day, and couldn't come, so I suggested that we take a day trip during Ski Week, and revisit all the fun places, so he wouldn't feel like he missed out on the best field trip of the year.

So yesterday, I picked up Q, and his brother and his mom, and the six of us (me, with Nate and Kelly) headed up to the City to tour Chinatown.

For the record? I'm a big giant nervous wreck when I'm driving in city traffic, but I fake it well. Fortunately, the GPS led us almost straight to the parking garage at Portsmouth Square, which is where we started last week's field trip, too.

If it's even possible, there were MORE decorations festooning the place than there had been last week.

So much red. So much gold. It was like being in the middle of a swirling sno-globe of glitter.

Of course, we had to re-visit the fortune cookie factory...

But this time, I opted to not pay the fifty cents to take a photo. There were a zillion school groups crowding the place, and I couldn't really get a good angle, anyways.

After wandering around a bit (and poking into a dozen little shops), we stopped for an early lunch at the Four Seas. This time, we sat in the REAL dining room, not in the upstairs conference room that they reserve for loud and obnoxious school groups.

It was serene, even with the three boys.

We tried a little dim sum...

But I kind of felt like the steamed pork dumplings were emulating "Alpo in a wrapper", so I opted for beef chow fun, lemon chicken, and garlic string beans.

DELICIOUS! I was too busy eating to take a photo.

The next stop was a wok shop, where I picked up replacement implements for Ken's wok. He's had the same wok for 27 years, and I think he's had the same two scooper-scraper utensils, too, and they're falling apart. And so, for $1.95 I was able to get him a shiny new scooper. No photo of the scooper, but look at all those woks!

And look up... way up... (and I'll call Rusty!)... they'd even decorated the ceiling for Chinese New Year.

Kelly found her favourite part of Chinatown...

"I'll just stay here, mom. You can pick me up here when you're ready to go home..."

The afternoon snack was a trip into The Eastern Bakery, the oldest bakery in Chinatown. And it must be good... Bill Clinton ate here in 1996.

The steamed egg custards were FABULOUS!

And a few more shops got invaded...

We got some popper-type things, little explosive caps that I'm sure can take out an eyeball if you're not careful, and a bunch of multi-colored sparklers. My first batch of night-photos with the sparklers was a bust, but I have good hope for a better session tonight. Kelly got a birthday present for her BFF (party is this afternoon), and a new eyeglass case, seeing as hers is starting to fall apart.I bought candied carrots, candied water chestnuts, and candied melon, and tried feeding them to my family last night for dessert.

They now think I am trying to poison them. Even Ken made a face. And he'll eat anything.

But other than that, the trip was made of win.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wednesday Fun

The Littles have been off this week, and apart from getting nothing done from my "To Do" list, we've had a bunch of fun.

Wednesday morning, Nate's teacher came over to see the pet menagerie. She brought her two sons, who are in love with the toads. I have forgotten how destructive a two-year-old can be. Egads, some of the pets were lucky to come away with their lives, that little boy has a G.I Joe kung-fu grip when it comes to 'fragile things'. I didn't take any photos, because I had my hands full keeping the hamsters alive.

Too bad, though. There were some great photo opportunities.

Anyways, it was a gloriously sunny day, and I didn't want to waste it sitting inside (which I *knew* would happen if we just stayed home), so we packed up some stuff, and headed to the coast.

Knowing that Mavericks Surf competition had just been on the weekend (and that there had been some MASSIVE waves come ashore during that event), I wanted to keep the kids away from the water, and away from the potential for rogue waves. Yeah! Like that was going to happen... But I gave it a good try, and took the kids on a hike first.

Looking down from this point, we saw something kind of fun. There weren't kids building sand castles on the beach... today there was a different kind of sunbathers hogging the sand.

Let's take a closer look... Oh look! They're all watching me. Am I that much of a threat? Or maybe they're just mugging for the camera.

We kept hiking up on the bluff. Nate and Kelly had fun chasing each other around, and pretending to be trees.

I even updated my self-portrait.

When we got to the beach that we were going to go play on, we had a bit of a surprise...

County workers were fixing the beach access. The stairway was gone, and in its place was a bobcat track.

So we turned around, and headed back to the seal-covered beach.

But there were distractions along the way. There always are.

What is Nate so intently looking at? Let's zoom in...

Eventually we got back to the first beach. It was mostly taken over by the seals, and there were signs up everywhere to stay back from the seals. Apparently 'harrassing marine mammals' is a federal offense. Whoopsie.

But the kids didn't want to play with the seals. They wanted to play with the waves.

It was a pretty good afternoon. The only problem was that it ended too soon.

But there can always be a next time...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Behind the pace.

As the Knitting Olympics progresses, I begin to think that I may be farther back in the pack than I thought.

I honestly thought I'd be finished the first sleeve by now.

But the sleeve, it likes to watch re-broadcasts of old portions of the Olympics.

The Sleeve, it likes Josh Groban singing that Haiti song...

Maybe tonight. Maybe this will be the evening of uninterrupted knitting.

Last night, there was an impromptu Halo party. Completely geeked out with a projector, so there wouldn't be a whole lot of screen-peeking.

But the guys had fun, even if I didn't get a lot of knitting done among the crashing loudness of the battle royal.

Oh look! Canada's flag! I bet the sleeve would like to see the medal ceremony tonight, and hear O Canada for the first time.

I'd better pick up the pace. Good thing both boys have Kung Fu today. That's an hour and a half of knitting right there.

Going for a ride

So we've got the toads at our house this week.

Nate is quite happy to be sharing his room with them, and spends a good deal of time watching them.

(sometimes, though, it's like watching paint dry. They find a nice sheltered corner, and then they just float there, not moving at all, except for this little stomach twitch).)

I was a bit concerned about Poison the last few days, as he/she (ok, let's just call them both "it", and not have it be a disparaging pronoun, ok?)... so IT wasn't looking very good. Poison had turned dark, and looked skinny, and was just hiding behind the filter. So I intervened.

I've spent the last 3 days pulling Poison out on a spoon, and sequestering it until it eats a cricket. I've gotten these extra-small crickets, too, so I know that they're tender and delicious.

And Poison seems to be perking up a bit. It's not as dark, is greening up nicely, and looks a little plumper.

And while it's still a little frightened by the spoon, it's not so freaked out once it is scooped.

(ok, this "it" business isn't working for me at all. I think I will call them both "him" until one or the other one lays eggs.)

So here is Poison, going for a little ride.

For size comparison, here's Toxanne on the same spoon.

Maybe not QUITE twice as big, but surely coming close to doubling Poison's size.

Nate showed his bravery this afternoon during the toad feeding...

Those are his fingers, letting Poison back into the pond.

He also carried Toxanne...

He says you can really feel the difference in weight. I'll take his word for it, as I wasn't going to touch the toads... yet.

And here is the other resident of Nate's room right now:

I want to call him Hermie Knevil, with that shell. Or maybe Super Dave Osborne the Hermit Crab.

Ahem, I think we need to work on the Pecking Order in the family... someone thinks they're the king of the castle...