Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tyler's Blue Belt Promotion

Tyler got promoted to Blue Belt today.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Story by Bekah, My Kindergartener


"Once upon a time there was a little girl. The girl was named Emily. She was swinging on the swing and then the swing broke off. And then Emily's mom had to fix it and she did it."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Field Trip

It gets hard to take field trips during the school year so this year I'm trying to squeeze some in during the summer. For a while now, I've been wanting to visit Horn Point Lab in Cambridge, MD. The best thing about this place is that it's free to visit and take a guided tour. Also, I worked there as a summer intern when I was in college. I wanted to show the kids where I worked and show them that science isn't all sitting in a lab. doing experiments at a bench. My two best science related jobs, ever, had me outside a good bit of the time, especially another internship I did at a University of MD research farm. I didn't even have to wear a shirt or shoes to work on most days!

Oceanography Lab
The first stop was the Oceanography Lab, where some scientists were getting ready to head to the Gulf of Mexico to measure the effect the giant oil spill has had on the Gulf. They've been there before, so they have a good baseline for conditions before the spill, and they can
One held vinegar, one water
compare results to see how much damage has been done the environment down there. Naturally, with any hands-on activity, Tyler is first in line to get his hands on. He and another little visitor were trying to figure out what those two buckets held, using their powers of observation and all their senses. I never thought Ty had much sense, but they figured it out.
Ty's just gotta touch that
My Happy Crew
They can equip these buoys with various sensors to measure conditions in Chesapeake Bay.  Tyler wanted to climb on one. He had to be satisfied with a look from the ground. Next stop, the hatchery.

Even way back when I worked at Horn Point, oysters were a main focus because their population is so threatened in the Bay by so many factors. Sturgeon, which in the 1600's and 1700's were everywhere, are now critically endangered. HPL is trying to restore the oysters and keep the Sturgeon from disappearing altogether. Sturgeon can get up to 14 feet long but you never see one that big, if you ever get to see any at all, at least in the wild. Tyler wanted to pet one, but was asked not to by our tour guide. We were told they have a big one in another tank but we weren't allowed to see it.

Ty exploring the old shells
New real estate for baby oysters
The oyster haychery was much bigger. One large tank can hold around 700 million oyster spat. Not all of them will live, but that's a lot of oysters. Once they're large enough, the spat are transferred into tanks where they can settle and attach to old oyster shells. Those shells are then transported to the bay and dumped overboard. There's a lot more involved, but I just don't have time to get into it all. It was pretty cool visited the lab and seeing it again. Not much has changed except for the size of the operation. Tyler was fascinated by the fact that you didn't need to wear a lab coat and work inside sterile walls to be a scientist. Maybe he'll decide to change his career from  Hobo to Biologist.

Being Sloths
We combined this field trip with a trip to Salisbury, to visit the small zoo they have there. Vicki and I spent a lot of time there since we went to college in Salisbury. It's not a big zoo, but it's also not in DC or Baltimore and that counts for a lot in my book. I hate traffic and crowds. Here's some pictures of our afternoon in Salisbury.
Do they ever look happy?
I have more but the baby is crying... 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Beach Vacation

You know summer's winding down when the county fair arrives. Alex took Connor and Kenzie down to Centreville to spend the day at the fair with friends. Tyler's in another karate camp, so I stayed home with the rest of the kids after I went food shopping. I used to like shopping for groceries but not any more. Eight gallons of milk. Ten loaves of bread. Every week. That, plus everything else needed to feed ten of us, gets expensive.

This is Ty getting his orange belt
Well, we survived the beach vacation. It wasn't as bad as I expected. Still too much sand at the beach for my taste, though. I wound up bringing Tyler home on Wednesday night of that week so he could go to karate class. That boy has really taken to karate. He earned his orange belt in about a month, and will probably advance to orange/strip in his second month. He's doing two karate camps this summer, and going to some extra classes, with the permission of his instructor, who seems to recognize Tyler's natural afinity for martial arts.

The family compound as seen from our house.
Capturing ghost crabs
Ok, back to the beach. The kids had a great time. They spent at least part of every day in the ocean or in the sand. And even a couple of evenings they got to explore the beach with flashlights. They were especially thrilled to discover the countless ghost crabs that came out at night. Every day we'd set up the tents. It looked kind of like a nomadic tent city sitting next to a huge oasis. All we needed was some camels.

Bekah in the waves.

Taylor running for his life


Almost looks easy once get past the breakers
When Ty and I returned to the beach after his karate class, we took the kayaks with us. I wanted to try them out in the ocean. It was pretty cool. Alex and I got to watch the sunrise from our boats. I'm really glad I don't have any pictures of my first two attempts at getting aboard the kayaks while the surf was knocking me over.
This is my ten minutes in the sand

This family vacation was provided by Poppop. He actually found a house that was big enough to accomodate the whole extended family. He made some really great memories for his grandkids. They had a fantastic time.

Kenzie left her mark
Oh, and we also went parasailing

Sunday, July 18, 2010

First Day at the Beach

So, I'm holding Adam,trying to let him take a nap, while the rest of the crew is a block away, playing in the ocean.Doesn't sound fair, does it? Well, I had my ten minutes on the beach when I got here a couple hours ago, and I'm good for now. Anything bigger than a sandbox is too much beach for me. I can't take the ocean; I like playing in the waves. The only problem is that nasty, hot sand in between me and the water. So, I get to hold Adam while they all get sandy. I tried to lay him down, but after ten minutes he realized he was in a strange house and got upset. Try typing with a netbook on your knee and a baby on your belly. Thank goodness for the backspace button.

Poppop is snoring and Richard's dozing off. It's a good, sleepy Sunday afternoon. Hot as Hades outside...uhoh...I hear kids. They must be back from the beach. Going to wake up Adam, I'm sure. Hopefully it's just a bathroom break and they'll head back out.

Nope, here they come. I guess nap time over.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Being Little

It's tough being little. The older kids are playing hide-and-seek on their bikes in the neighborhood. The younger ones can't keep up and aren't allowed to ride bikes alone (a requirement if you're trying to hide). It's killing Bekah. She was a little hysterical earlier, when her big sister left her behind. I'm going to go read some more Charlotte's Web to her.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Why We Don't Do Family Vacations

We are scheduled to spend a week at the beach, this Summer, with Vicki's parents and her sister and family. One house; 16 people; for a week. Can you imagine that? Unfortunately, I can. Now, for any of you involved in this endeavor, who may be reading this, remember who you'll be spending the week with. You know me, and how I have a knack for getting on your nerves, even when I'm not trying to. Add to that eight kids (speaking only for my own; not the nephews) who can't talk below a shout, pick on each other all the time, and never intentionally ever pick up something on the floor (while dropping everything they touch)...and this in our seven bedroom house with just one family occupying it. Oh, and one third of the people in this beach house will be under the age of 6, and at least half (probably two-thirds) ACT under the age of six. If it rains that week, there will be no survivors.

I also have 26 chickens, three cats, a tank full of fish, a pond full of fish, a lizard, and a bin full of live crickets (for the lizard) that I have to figure out how to keep alive for a week with nobody home. A friend has offered to tend to the chickens once a day, but I feel bad about piling on the rest of the critters.

Then there are the other activities that will be missed. We have softball practice, with a national tournament coming up, karate which Ty just started, and dance which Tay just started. Oh, and did I mention all the kids staying in the same house for a week?

I miss the good old days (last year) when we split up for vacation. I went with my dad to Mt. Ranier. Vicki and half the kids went with her parents to Disney World. You know, at one point, through a haze of wishful thinking, I do believe I thought this was a good idea.