Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Planets

The boys and I were returning from an errand last night when Elijah said, "Look, Mama, I see two bright stars." I took a look and realized that what he was seeing were planets, not stars. We talked about the difference between planets and stars, and how you can tell them apart (stars twinkle, planets don't), and I promised to look online to find out what planets we were seeing. At home, I learned that Venus and Jupiter are converging in the southwestern sky just after sunset; on December 1st they will be joined by a crescent moon to make two eyes and a frowning mouth. :) We will be watching.

Prior to this, Elijah's only exposure to the term "planets" was in the context of the piece "The Planets" by Gustav Holst. Our favorite is Mars, the Bringer of War, and this is our favorite video:

I also like Jupiter, especially the beginning of it, and there's a video on Youtube of a performance by the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Eiji Oue. I think Mr. Oue is an interesting conductor to watch--he is really dramatic. But in the end I think I prefer the version by the orchestra/conductor I posted here (not sure who this conductor or orchestra is--can't find the info). ETA: See comments section--this is the Tokyo City Philharmonic, conducted by Taijiro Iimori.

I love being a mom, and seeing the world through children's eyes. If it weren't for Elijah, I would probably have driven home lost in my own thoughts, and totally missed this celestial phenomenon. :)

Oh, another thing Elijah said on the way home: "Mama, I can hear the Willum Tell Overture--it's playing in my head!" *pause* "Can you hear it?"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My newly-discovered talent

I just upgraded the memory on my computer all by myself! A generous fellow from Freecycle gave me a bigger computer monitor, and a case that was supposed to contain memory sticks that would be an upgrade for my computer. I got home and got the monitor hooked up pretty quickly, then opened up the case, just out of curiosity. I saw something and thought to myself, "Hey, I bet those are the memory sticks." They had little latchy things on either side so I undid the latchy things and pulled the memory sticks out. "Wow, that was easy," I thought to myself. "I bet I could stick these in my new computer."

So, not knowing any better, I unscrewed the case to my computer and peered around till I figured out where the memory sticks went. There were some things in my way so I thought to myself, "I wonder if I can unplug this to get it out of my way?" *yank* "Well, that didn't work, do I just need to pull harder?" *yank yank* "Ah, there it comes. Now let me stick this memory stick in. It won't go, do I just shove it or something?" *shove* "Oh, there's a wire in the way, that's funny. I'll stick it over here so it's not in my way. Aha, now the memory stick is in, I think, but I can't see anything! I wonder if I can take apart the other side to see what's going on in there?" I got the screwdriver and undid various screws until the other side of the computer came off. "Aha, the memory stick was NOT in all the way. I'll fix that with a little more muscle. Now how did this thing go back together again?" I wiggled things around for a minute, then dropped everything to run and restart the washer so the diapers would get a warm rinse instead of a cold one. Back again: "Huh, that's funny, I don't remember these wires being here. How did that happen? Oh look, this whole box thing has shifted over. I'll just push it back and then the wires will tuck behind it. Oh look, the computer has been plugged in the whole time I've been messing with these wires. I wonder if I could have electrocuted myself. Well the cover is back on now, and I think everything is plugged in properly in there. Let's see what happens when I turn it on." So I turned it on and....IT BOOTED UP! I watched with bated breath and sure enough, IT WAS RUNNING FASTER! I jumped up and down and pumped my fists in the air and said, "It works! It works!" Elijah poked his head around the corner and gave me a very strange look. Anyway, I feel very smart now.

I hope that didn't bore anyone. I just was so excited about figuring it out on my own, that I had to post.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My latest plarn creation

A few months ago I wrote that I was crocheting a reusable bag out of plastic grocery bags, made into plastic yarn, also known as "plarn." Well, I finished that one ages ago and have been using it on a regular basis. Here's another one I just made. As you can see, this is a large bag, rather larger than I had intended, in fact. I am very proud of this one because I came up with a top-secret method to brace the bottom so that it stays square (involves a wire coat hanger--*shhh* don't tell anyone). I also applied my fabulous design skills to come up with an extra-strong reinforcing stitch for the bottom and handles.

This reusable bag was created from over 100 plastic grocery bags. I didn't accumulate them all myself--they were passed on to me by lots of generous people. One nice lady that I barely know dropped two huge black trash bags crammed full of plastic bags on my porch. And other people were quite generous with their plastic bags as well. In fact, I quite quickly reached the point where I had to turn down plastic bag offers. *confession* I have an entire closet full of plastic bags in my basement. I know, crazy, huh? I need to get going and crank out some more of these nifty reusable bags.

I haven't decided if I will keep this one (probably not), or if I will try to sell it (probably). Etsy, here I come! How much do you think I should charge for it? $100? $200? Just kidding.

Yikes, it's bedtime!

I was googling plarn bags for inspiration, and wondered if adding the word "plarn" to this post would cause it to turn up in a search. So plarn plarn plarnity-plarn.

ETA: If you think crocheting with plastic bags is weird, you should see what else I was crocheting with this week (hint: something else recycled). Photos to come as soon as I get my hands on a camera again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How fast can you read?

I was sitting in the "Preschool Exploration Center" i.e. playroom at the library the other day, reading through a children's book to decide whether or not to check it out for the boys. I've learned the hard way not to check out a book that you haven't read all the way through first, no matter what, even if you remember it from your childhood and thought it was a great book. This book, as it turns out, was excellent, as were a couple of others by the same author, Marjorie Flack.

Anyway, my point was, I realized that I was reading as fast as I could turn the pages. This made me wonder how fast I can read, so I did a google search and found this test:

How Fast Can You Read?

As I suspected, I am a pretty fast reader, between 500 and 600 words per minute. However, I have trouble staying focused, so my mind wanders and I find myself having to re-read the same paragraph twice. I also have trouble remembering some details like place names and names of characters. I wonder if there's a way to maintain my reading speed while improving my focus and memory? Perhaps I just need more practice--practice, that is, without a million distractions in the background. :)

Speaking of reading, I just read this book:

Animal Vegetable Miracle 1ST Edition

Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
...and I loved it. Fantastic book--food politics has always been an interest of mine. The author discusses the sad state of our farming and food industries, and describes her family's attempt to eat nothing but locally and sustainably produced food for an entire year. It's a great story, marred only by the author's dismissive attitude towards those who believe in creation. Her attitude actually didn't bother me much, because her story made clear the bounty of God's creation and the blessing of His abundant provision for us, whether she intended it that way or not; and she was modeling good stewardship of that bounty. Very inspiring.

Anyway, reading the book motivated me to visit our winter farmer's market this weekend--while I attend our fabulous outdoor market weekly through the summer months, I've never been to the indoors winter market. Maybe I can even scrounge up the money for some more of that delicious raw clover honey raised right here in Bloomington...mmmm...

The children are napping, so I should take this chance to do some work.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Interesting article

A friend recently posted their dismay that a "socialist" has been elected president, and wished that McCain had been elected instead. I tried to point out that Bush and McCain are pretty socialist as well, but I think my point was perhaps not getting across very well.

Here's an interesting article for your perusal:

Like Barack Obama, John McCain is a Socialist

Note that the New American is a very conservative publication. I say this to point out that you don't have to be a "radical left-wing nut" to disagree with Bush and McCain's policies.

And to clarify, I did not vote for Obama because I am very strongly pro-life (the only vote I cast this election cycle was for this guy), but I am excited to see an African-American family in the White House. I will be praying that Mr. Obama and his family are kept safe and sound, and not hurt by the racist hate that is unfortunately still alive and well in our society. I will also be praying that Mr. Obama has a change of heart regarding the rights of the unborn (but I'm not holding my breath on that one).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Elijah can read!! ...Almost

Elijah is now sounding out simple words, thanks in part to this website:

The kids (the older three anyway) love this site--Noah lets out an ear-piercing shriek of excitement whenever he sees me pull it up on the screen. We started with the ABC's page and that's still where the kids spend the most time, but Elijah has now developed quite an interest in the beginning readers' page too. A couple of times a week when it's time for me to prepare lunch, I'll pull up this site and put Elijah in charge of navigation. Elijah, Noah, and K (the 3.5 year old girl I watch) will huddle around the screen and watch with fascination. Today the favorite letter was "T" for tiger, ten, and taxi. They must have watched that tiger roar at least a dozen times in a row.

So if you have a little one learning his/her alphabet, check it out. :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

He's all grown up! sort of

Today I find myself alone with Noah, as Elijah has gone to Chicago with his daddy to visit family. Tonight will be Elijah's first night away from his mama ever, except for the night I spent in the hospital after Noah was born. I just called to check in, and it appears he hasn't missed me in the least. :) I don't expect that he will, as I'm sure he's having a great time with his cousins.

Elijah is such a big boy now! As of his fourth birthday, he is now weaned. I'm happy that he got to nurse as long as he did. I know that extended nursing of children is unusual these days, though it was the norm for literally thousands of years prior to recent history. In case any moms or would-be moms or soon-to-be moms are reading this, who would like any further information about extended breastfeeding, here's an informative and helpful link: Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet

Today started out as a "bad day" but after some attitude adjustments (Philippians 4:4-19 helped with that) I am doing much better. Now that I am done being negative, I am looking at Noah being his cute self and wondering how I could ever be so grouchy with him to keep me company. I feel very blessed to have the wonderful children that I do. Noah right now is singing to himself, "Da-da-da-DAAAAAA" accompanied by dramatic waving of hands. I think this means that he would like to hear Beethoven's Fifth, so I will go start the CD player.

Bye for now.