Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Art Thursday -- January 1st

"Kids with Animals"
Yep, kids with animals.  Some of them are on the roof.
 
Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

What-What?! Week of December 28th

Merry after-Christmas everyone!  We made it through.  The kids all had a great Christmas, and have been enjoying their gifts.

Forgot to post on Thursday.  It was Christmas, though, so I don't feel too bad about it.  Was too busy playing with children, cooking a delicious dinner, and so on.

Speaking of cooking, these white chicken enchiladas are really wonderful when made with turkey.  We did this last night with leftovers from Christmas, and it was so, so good.

You should check out Epbot's finished Harry Potter Christmas tree.  There are so many parts to it, make sure you look through the close-ups.

The last week, the big kids and I have played around with different snowflake makers online.  I used SnowDays to make this one:

Christmas Pictures!

Lots and lots of them.

The tree, with presents.  No lights this year -- didn't find that box until later.
Waiting to unwrap presents.
Both of the big kids were surprisingly excited about this microscope set.
Putting together lots of Legos.
Even the littlest one got Legos.
The biggest one got the biggest set, though. :P
There are other pictures over at the husband's blog, A Wizard's Rambles.
You know, if you want more.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What-What?! Week of December 21st

We have survived!  The husband now has two weeks to sit at home with us and relax.  I'm looking forward to it. :)

This week is all about the boy's birthday.  Next week I'll post something more substantial... or maybe just a bunch of Christmas stuff. :P

Corwin's Birthday


My middle child is now five!  For his birthday, we took the family to the local Bullwinkle's to play in the arcade and the indoor jungle gym.  We also tried playing mini-golf, but the only child truly interested in it was Saffron, so we didn't spend too much time on that activity.

All of the pics of him in there are blurry.  All of them.
The indoor gym had a room full of giant exercise balls.  Ozzy spent most of his time in there.


The big kids would pop out to say "Hello!" then dive back into the fray.


At home, we played pin the tail on the pony.  Saffron provided the pony.

The cake... the cake.  This cake suffered from poor planning.  I had a lot of trouble with the Lego candy molds, and I just didn't start making the decorations soon enough to be able to experiment with them to get them looking as good as I wanted.  Still, the boy was happy, and it tasted great, too.  The cake was a simple yellow cake with buttercream frosting.




Thursday, December 18, 2014

Art Thursday -- December 18th

"Santa Claus at our House"
Saffron did this one.  You can see milk and cookies out on the table for Santa, as well as a paper chain decoration near the top.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

What-What?! Week of December 14th

Today, we're celebrating Corwin's birthday!  Kid is very nearly five years old.  We're going to take the kids to the local Bullwinkle's to play games and ride the bumper cars.  Since the boy's birthday falls in the middle of the week, we thought it would be better to celebrate it now.  I'm putting together a Lego-themed cake for him.  I'll make sure to post pictures next week of the festivities. :)

Otherwise, my kids are in full on "Christmas is coming!!!" mode.  The other day, I took Corwin to Target, and they had this one decoration of Santa holding his list of children.  Corey stopped and gasped "The list, Mommy, the list!", then started looking for his own name.  It was adorable.

Last weekend the husband and I took the kids to a Christmas tree farm down in Snohomish.  The drive was very nice, and the first time I've seen real farmland in the six months we've lived here.  The big fields felt very homey.

We had intended to buy a little Christmas tree and put it on the dining table, but the farm didn't have any available.  After a quick punt, the husband and I decided to get a full-sized tree.  Then we went to the store to buy a Christmas tree stand (hur-hur).  The tree is partly decorated, though the kids and I are slowly filling it up with homemade ornaments.  It only took me 6 days to find the tree skirt (why wasn't it with the other Christmas stuff?  No one knows).

Van Vogt Family Farm
While we drove down to Snohomish, we saw a bunch of these barns that had rounded roofs.  I don't recall ever seeing anything like it in California, but there were a lot in this style.  On the fifteen minute drive, I counted five, and that was only after passing one or two.  Unfortunately, we didn't get any pictures of them (and came back to town a different route), but I did do some looking as to the historical significance.
Thayer Barn -- Built in 1930's from the Sears & Roebuck barn catalog.
According to History Colorado, this type of roof is called a gothic or round- roof.  This type of barn is designed to optimize the amount of hay that could be stored, and is nationally a pretty unusual design.  Most of the information I could find on this type of barn is, oddly enough, from a Colorado website, but from what I can tell, the same truths apply here.  These barns were generally built with sidewalls pre-WWII, and without sidewalls after.  Every single one that I saw had brick sidewalls and wood roofs, which dates them all back to 1945 or earlier.

There's a nonprofit, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, that works with the government and landowners to preserve these historical barns (and other buildings, too).  They have a ton of pictures on their website, and some pretty interesting info, too.

(Photos from preservewashington.org)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Art Thursday -- December 11th

"Corwin's Santa"
This is one of Corey's pictures -- it shows Santa and a bunch of presents.
My kids actually started drawing Christmas pictures shortly after Halloween. :P

Sunday, December 7, 2014

What-What?! Week of December 7th

It's December!  How did that happen?

This week, I've been very tired.  Like, falling asleep in front of the computer tired.  The ice finally finished melting on Friday, so we've had about a week's worth of snow and ice.  That's enough of that.  :P

Christmas and Santa Claus Shenanigans


My littlest one has recently been obsessed with Disney's Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas film.  He would (and honestly, sometimes has) watched it every day.  It's a collection of Christmas stories that involve the classic Disney characters.  One of the stories, A Very Goofy Christmas, is about Goofy and his son, Max, and discusses the truth of whether Santa exists or not.  The conclusion of the short is that Santa is, of course, real.  It's kind of a nice discussion about the nature of lying and the sometimes ridiculous things we do to make others happy.  But the whole thing makes me a bit uncomfortable.  My kids believe in Santa Claus.  I contribute directly to this (who tells them Santa is coming? Me.), but I'm not some pro-Santa Christmas tradition thing.  I'm kind of ambivalent about it.

After doing some research, it seems that The Santa Lie is a big deal for some people.  There is one particular gentlemen on the anti-Santa side that has raised some awareness, writing many articles about the possible damage that comes from believing in Santa.  He's actually been published in Psychology Today discussing the issue.  But I keep reading it and I really don't find anything that would motivate me to stop with the Santa business.  As far as I can tell, the evidence that this man has accrued is anecdotal.  Hilariously, in a follow up to the article linked above, he blasts pro-Santa people as not having any scientific evidence to back up their side.  Further, I'm not sold on his qualifications -- he has a PhD in philosophy, not, say, child development, or anything more pertinent.  This becomes apparent in the follow up article, where he uses the example that children should be spoken to in proper English, so that way they grow up to speak proper English; babies actually respond to baby talk better than proper English.  In other words, sometimes there's a place for teaching children differently because they're children.  They'll grow up, and most of them will be okay.

The husband and I do Santa because it's fun.  I'm not concerned that my children will grow up to be gullible, or that they will lose their trust in us.  For now, while they are small, I'm going to enjoy letting them experience the magic of childhood.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Art Thursday -- December 4th

"New Thomas Movie"
A movie poster for Saffron's proposed Thomas film, Princess Emalenor (pronounced Emily-nor).  Stars Percy, James, and the princess, of course.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

What-What?! Week of November 30th

Warning:  This week's post is all about food.  If you don't want to read about food, then I suggest reading about how to make knots, or maybe just stare at pretty colors.



Edit: It snowed!  And now the snow has partially melted, and turned into ice!  Yay, ice skating!
(Yay, right?  ...Right?)



We survived Thanksgiving, yay!  The husband had a short week at work, which was absolutely marvelous.

The Dinner was pretty simple this year; turkey, cornbread stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, and gravy (of course).  Dessert was Kentucky Pegasus pie and pumpkin pie.

We did some minor shopping on Black Friday, mostly online.  I grabbed Saffron an inexpensive winter coat from Goodwill -- it's bright, shiny purple and she loves it.  Also bought two more turkeys from Target, because the price per pound was unbeatable.  No more space in the freezer now, and we'll be eating turkey for a month... oops, I guess? :P

Kentucky Pegasus Pie via Food.com

I've made this pie before, but it's been quite a while.  It's akin to eating a cookie that is also a pie, and it is delicious.  Because it'd been about a year since I last baked it, I followed the recipe closely, only adding a bit of salt.  Next time, I think I'm going to use half brown sugar and half granulated sugar, and add more pecans... a lot more pecans.

(The history of the Pegasus pie is also pretty interesting, if you're into reading about food history).

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Usually, I follow The Pioneer Woman's cranberry sauce recipe, which is good, but a bit too fluid.  Wanting a thicker sauce, I used this recipe from the Food Network, and adjusted it so:

Ingredients:
  • 1 - 12oz package cranberries
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Pinch of salt
Put all ingredients into a large pot (larger than you think you'll need --my cranberry sauce always splatters).  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and let cook for about 10 minutes.  Let cool, and enjoy.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Art Thursday -- November 27th

"Space"
This is one of Corwin's.  He actually asked me how to spell the names of the planets here, which is pretty unusual.  Normally he just does whatever he wants. :P
 
Happy Thanksgiving! <3

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What-What?! Week of November 23rd

Let's do this newspaper style, shall we?

Cheers: It's been warm enough that we could take a layer of blankets off the bed.

Jeers: The baby has gotten used to getting up with me at 6am to work.  Sleeping in on the weekends is but a dream now.

Cheers:  The husband is getting a week and a half off work for the holidays.

Jeers:  Only three days of that time off are paid holidays.  The other 7 days are coming our of his paid time off, or are unpaid.

There you have it, folks.

Cooking:  Cranberry Upside-Down Cake via Martha Stewart

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
I actually cooked something new!  I haven't done a lot of interesting cooking lately because using my kitchen makes me angry.  It is so small, there's no where to put things.  I can't get out my stand mixer.  If I bake something, I have to put the pan on the stove while I mix the ingredients, and if there's something already cooking there, then I have to juggle.  The whole thing just makes me sad.

But I bought a two pound sack of cranberries from the store last week on an impulse.  Two pounds is a lot more than I need to make cranberry sauce, so I had to find other things to make.  I ran into this cake recipe, saw the brilliant red topping, and just had to make it.  I did substitute oil for the butter, because at the time, even room temperature butter was too cold to be beaten with sugar (yes, that's how cold it was in the house).

The cake turned out brilliant.  I didn't quite grease my pan well enough, so the topping was a bit messed up, but it still tasted great.  This was very good with vanilla ice cream next to it.  Some of the reviewers remarked that there wasn't enough batter to properly cover the cake, but I didn't have this problem.  I wouldn't recommend increasing the amount of batter much at all, because then I think it just wouldn't have a good cake to topping ratio.

I've also done a cranberry/pecan version of this dutch baby from Smitten Kitchen, which also turned out beautifully. :)

(img via marthastewart.com)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Art Thursday -- November 20th

I goofed.
All the photos I took of the kids' pictures are on the husband's phone... which is with him at work.  Instead, here is a pic of Ozzie reading a book. <3

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What-What?! Week of November 16th

It's cold here.  Yesterday, there was a little stream of water in the parking lot that never thawed.  It was frozen the entire day.  What is this magic?!  It is terrible.  I found a pair of gloves the other day, and I'm probably going to start wearing them.

News:  Benefits of Redefining Full-time Enrollment to 15 Credits a Semester Examined via Diverse

This article examines the idea of increasing the definition of fulltime enrollment to 15 units a semester, and why this is possibly a good idea.  The main reason for doing so is that it is simply impossible to graduate with a bachelor's in four years if a student only completes 12 units a semester.  This reflects the issues that many states have with students starting on a degree, but never finishing it.

The other reason I take issue with; the fact that students who take 15 units a semester are more likely to complete their education, rather than drop out.  This is a chicken or the egg conundrum; are those students taking 15 units more likely to finish their degree because of the units they take, or because they  have other factors that make it easier to take so many units?  Do those students taking 15 units a semester have to work, or have family responsibilities?  Are they professionals working towards their degree in the evenings?  My experience with this is that it is the student, not their class schedule -- I purposefully took the minimum required to hit fulltime enrollment because, while I wanted to qualify for grants and scholarships, I had small children to care for.  Similarly, one fellow business major I knew quit his job so he could take more units in order to graduate on time... but only after he checked with his parents to make sure they could foot the bill.

Another thing to take into consideration is that a class unit is equal to 3 hours of time per week outside of class.  Twelve units equals 48 hours total -- 12 in the classroom, and another 36 doing homework, reports, readings, and so on.  At 15 units, this work load becomes a total of 60 hours per week.  For some majors, I'm sure this would be fine -- not all of them have heavy homework loads or complicated projects.  However, for STEM majors, who tend to have more concentration-intensive classes, spending 45 hours a week doing homework and readings would be overwhelming at best.  That many hours makes burnout a real risk.

In my opinion, enacting 15 units a semester as fulltime enrollment would have a lot of effect on those who are already at a disadvantage to complete a degree.  Though I realize that I was relatively advantaged, I still sometimes had trouble fitting just 12 units into my schedule -- I can't imagine doing so while also having to manage a changing job schedule (like those who work in retail), or without such a supportive family as I had.  Add another class to that mess, and I think people some people will simply drop out entirely.


Oh, yeah... and the husband reading to the kids:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Art Thursday -- November 13th

"Show Offs"
The top shows two kids singing and dancing, while the bottom shows a mom insisting that her daughter have a laptop ("Are you sure about this?" "Positive.  I bought you the laptop, Molly.").

Saturday, November 8, 2014

What-What?! Week of November 9th

This week has been good and bad.  The husband got a raise, but I spent the middle of the week terribly sick.  It was only a cold, but what a cold it was. D:

My job is going well.  The cool thing about my job is getting to look at bits and pieces of other peoples' interests.  I have now seen a lot more boutique clothes, sports equipment, shoes (lots and lots of shoes!), and obscure parts, like turntable platter mats.

Music:  Chopsticks... on a Tuba?

I ran into this piece of music through work.  It is variations on Chopsticks (the classic piano piece) as done by a tuba quartet.  A tuba quartet!  How awesome is that?!  It sounds like it should be in a cartoon of some sort.  Something with Bugs Bunny.  The piece is only 3 and a half minutes long, so give it a listen. :)

Lowe's Build and Grow: November's Science Lab


This month's Lowe's project was a science set, complete with project ideas, a beaker, and a flask.  It was a bit of a disaster at the store, because I had all three children with me by myself.  Luckily, this project doesn't have a lot of pieces to manage, and the big kids got through it.

That afternoon, the husband and kids did one of the experiments -- make a volcano.  This is pretty classic stuff, with vinegar and baking soda.  The kids used strawberry Jell-O to make the foam red... smelled good, too (better than straight vinegar, anyway).  All three of the kids enjoyed watching the foam explode out the top of their flasks, and watching to see how long it would foam for.  Corwin's flask went on for quite a while -- ten minutes, at least.  Later today we'll do another experiment.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Art Thursday -- November 6th

"Girl in the Magic Garden"
I like the fairy sticking out of the tree.  I think she's holding a cloud?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What-What?! Week of November 2nd

So, this week's post is just going to be pictures, pretty much.

Wednesday was Saffron's birthday, and was pretty good.  I made her a spice cake with cream cheese frosting, decorated with white chocolate snowflakes to stay in the Disney Frozen theme.  The frosting color matches the streamers I used to decorate almost exactly.
This is the only view where the cake looks misshapen... I swear. >.>
Candles!  Seven of 'em!
She got a pretty good assortment of toys, books, and art things.  The second picture here is a bit blurry, but that's because she was really happy about her The Last Unicorn movie.


Two days later, it was time for Halloween!  I was painting costumes up until the night before. D:  Ozzy's Buzz Lightyear costume is pretty simple, but he loved it anyway.

The kids really had a blast this Halloween -- especially Ozzy, who is now old enough to understand what's going on.  Last week, I explained to him what trick or treating involved, and when he came to understand that people were going to give him candy, his world opened up.  He asked about eating candy everyday.  He would bring it up a random times.  While we were out trick or treating, he was ready to run down the street and kick in doors.  There were vast amounts of toddler enthusiasm.
Halloween itself was rainy and quite cold.  I bundled the kids up in layers underneath their costumes to keep them warm, and we grabbed our umbrellas (umbrellas from when we lived in California... which we'd never used before.).  One of the husband's coworkers had suggested a particular neighborhood, so we headed up there.  It was a good call, because the kids got tons of really great candy, and we just did both side of one street (one block).  By the time we walked back around to the car, the kids' buckets were half-full, and we were all starting to feel a bit too cold, so we headed home.

...But they still got lots of candy.  The husband and I had to dry off their candies, because the buckets had been collecting water (!!!).



Lots of full size candy bars.  And lollipops in Ozzy's.  That kid is obsessed with "wallypops", and kept grabbing them any time there was an option.

Despite the rain and cold, this was probably one of the best Halloweens I've had with my kids.  I'm looking forward to next year, for sure. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Art Thursday -- October 30th

"Digimon, digivolve into..."
I suppose now would be a good time to explain that my daughter believes that Digimon are real.
She argues with her brother about whether they're real or not.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What-What?! Week of October 26th

Oh my goodness, this next week is Saffron's birthday and Halloween.  I'm still working on costumes, gathering up supplies to make a cake, and all that stuff.  At least I've already got her presents wrapped.

News:  Residents, Politicians Worry About Radiation at Local Park via The Seattle PI

Radiation warnings have gone up at a popular Seattle park, and many are worried that the plan to clean up the contamination doesn't go far enough.
Seattle's Magnuson Park is left with dozens of World War II-era buildings that have been saved and repurposed. But the days of the old naval facility also left behind radiation.
Well, this is exciting.  A large park in Seattle was built on top of an old WWII-era military factory complex, which apparently included a radium room for building glow in the dark instrumentation for aircraft.  If there's anything I know about radiation and history, it's that it probably wasn't cleaned up properly.

What makes this particularly troubling is that, while a park may be somewhere you go often, you're not there all the time... except there are people currently living there.  So that's nice.

After doing some additional reading from the Washington State Department of Health, I'm not sure why this is news now; according to the website, this issue has been known since 2009, and cleanup began in 2013.  Did this just become public knowledge?

If so, then I guess that's nice too. D:

How about something a little cuter?  Saffron has her costume most of the way done:
Excuse the giant mess behind her. :P

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Art Thursday -- October 23rd

"Zebras at the Zoo"
Yep, zebras.  On the left are some in their den.
Yes, I forgot to post this yesterday.  No, I don't have a good excuse. xP

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What-What?! Week of October 19th

This week was a week.  I started on my new job, which is not horrendously exciting, but well enough.  I suppose I should explain what I am doing a bit more; I am working for ZeroChaos as an Ads Quality Rater.  The official description for what I do is: As an Ads Quality Rater, you will be responsible for reporting and tracking the visual quality and content accuracy of Google advertisements.  (Hit the link for more info on the job description).

Monday I had my training, and Tuesday I started working for real.  Thursday evening, I got my first review, and received pretty good feedback -- the things I went wrong with were mostly ratings where the guidelines are a bit more fuzzy.  This job relies on a lot of general knowledge in making decisions, and makes me happy I know as much as I do about computers and car companies, because I keep getting tasks centered around those topics.  The only difficult part about this job is doing it at home; I'm still working out a good schedule that makes it easy to work around taking care of the kids and house.

Flexible Muscle-Based Locomotion for Bipedal Creatures

I don't know what to categorize this as, other than just awesome.  Thomas Geijtenbeek and his associates do biomechanical engineering work, and have done extensive research on animating creatures using physics-based simulations.  The video below is both interesting and pretty funny.  For the author's website, hit the above link.


Crazy Halloween Costumes


Saw this on Reddit, and was really impressed by the costume accuracy.  This was the child's costume from last year.  The one for this year?  A vending machine:

...and my kids just want to be robots, princesses and Buzz Lightyear.

Maybe next year we should all be inanimate objects?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Art Thursday -- October 16th

"Batman!"
This picture is actually one of Corwin's, and I picked it because it pretty clearly says "batman".
This kid never asks me how to spell anything.  That day, though, he did!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What-What?! Week of October 12th

This week seemed to go by about as fast as molasses.  Not good, not bad, just interminable.

I got confirmation that I will be starting my new job on Monday, so that's exciting!  It will be good to work again, both in terms of money and maintaining my sanity.

Started working on Saffron's dress earlier this week.  I spent about 20 minutes cleaning my sewing machine after I pulled it out; the move and sitting around made it get pretty dusty.  I'm at the point now where I have to iron things.  I don't like ironing, so I'm procrastinating a bit there.
We went to the Lowe's Build and Grow clinic for October.  The big kids had a good time making their own haunted houses.  We brought them home and they played with super heroes and their spooky houses.

Review:  Digimon Tamers

Earlier this week, the kids and I finished watching the third season of Digimon.  The first two seasons were pretty classic kid show stuff -- lots of humor and creepy-cute monsters fighting bad guys.  The third season, though, Tamers, is made of different stuff.  It's darker and more serious than the earlier seasons, and spends more time looking at the nature of Digimon as monsters.  The show is more complex, though it does suffer from a slow start, it gets better as it goes along.  The fact that the season is 50 episodes hurts it quite a bit -- it could pretty easily be edited down by a third, maybe even a half.  Even still, my kids, especially Saffron, fell in love with it.  Saffron is currently obsessed with Renamon and Rika, who are the strong female leads in the series.

Lopmon and Terriermon.
She also likes Terriermon and Lopmon, but that's because they are glorified rabbit Digimon.

(Images via  digimon.wikia.com, deviantart.com: angel-in-disguise234)