Field Trip: SpaceTime Park

Last Friday, Jamie and I took the little guys to SpaceTime Park. It was both simple and a lot of fun. We all learned a lot. It was kind of chilly (50s after weeks of 80s and 90s), but that ended up not being a problem.

The park makes about a 1 1/2 mile loop. The first half is the solar system from the sun to Mars.
Field Trip: SpaceTime Park

At each planet, there was information and a button to press that told us all about the planet. They also had a thing that let you feel what 10 pounds on Earth feels like on that planet.
Field Trip: SpaceTime Park

If you walk about 2 1/2 miles per hour, you are traveling through the solar system model at the speed of light. The boys had fun running and saying they were going faster than the speed of light.
Field Trip: SpaceTime Park

The planets are 3-D printed from what NASA knows about the planets. They are made to scale compared to the size of the sun.
Field Trip: SpaceTime Park

On the table with Earth is our Moon. Near the moon is a peephole you can look through to see a perfect solar eclipse.
Field Trip: SpaceTime Park

Because the whole thing is a giant scale model, you can look from each planet back to the sun and see just how tiny the sun looks the further away you get. The planet models are very detailed and beautiful as can be seen in the up close picture of Mars.
Field Trip: SpaceTime Park

At the halfway point is the Worm Hole. This is where the rest of the planets and my beloved demoted to dwarf planet Pluto reside. It would be way too long a walk to continue on to the rest as they get further and further away from the sun. We stopped at the Worm Hole and ate the picnic lunch I had packed.
Field Trip: SpaceTime Park

The next third of the park is Dinosaur Island, full of models of dinosaurs and other dinosaur-era critters.
Field Trip: SpaceTime Park

As with the planet section, there is a button to push at each dinosaur telling what it is and facts about it.
Field Trip: SpaceTime Park

The giant snake was a bit freaky, but we all liked the tiny little Velociraptor. Not quite so scary as the ones imagined by Michael Crichton.
Field Trip: SpaceTime Park

Most of the larger dinosaurs were just juvenile size. Full size, they’d be gigantic. After leaving Dinosaur Island, we entered the last third which is currently just empty space. They are raising money to put in a big history timeline.
Field Trip: SpaceTime Park

Before we left, we got some astronaut ice cream from the gift shop. The boys weren’t very impressed, but to me it is wonderful. When I was a kid and we went to the Air and Space Museum in DC, my parents got us astronaut ice cream. I guess I just like the nostalgia that comes with eating it.
Field Trip: SpaceTime Park

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History: Vikings

Weeks 6 and 7 of school we learned about Vikings using Layers of Learning, year 2 unit 4.

We added to our timeline.
History: Vikings

We looked at the page on Dublinia in our Ireland trip book and talked about what we saw there.
History: Vikings

We did some map work.
History: Vikings

We learned about longhouses.
History: Vikings

We made a Viking ship.
History: Vikings

We had a Viking feast. We ate meat soup, honey glazed vegetables, apple bacon, and bread and drank non-alcoholic mead.
History: Vikings

After the feast, we provided each other with live entertainment.
History: Vikings

We looked at a map of how the settlement of Vinland was laid out.
History: Vikings

We held a Viking funeral. It didn’t quite go how we expected it to. It took a lot longer to get the paper boat to ignite, required the addition of rubbing alcohol, and ended with Cameron juggling flaming cotton balls.
History: Vikings

We talked about inflation and compared the cost of things in 1938 versus today.
History: Vikings

The boys each picked a different famous Viking to teach his brothers about. Cameron picked Harald Bluetooth and finished his report with a youtube video about why we call it bluetooth today.
History: Vikings

Cameron created a PowerPoint of Norse beings and presented it to his brothers.
History: Vikings

We Tried Blue Apron

A couple weeks ago I got a MyPoints offer to sign up with Blue Apron. Jamie was about to go out of town and I hate cooking when he’s not here, so I figured why not try it.

Pros:
1.) Everything is pre-portioned.
2.) The instructions are colorful and easy to follow and give totals of the ingredients so you can recreate the meal again on your own.
3.) It’s very convenient to have a box of ingredients delivered to your doorstep.
4.) The recipes we tried were seriously delicious.
5.) The ingredients were all very fresh.
6.) The chicken was diced up nicely without any gross bits left (and I am very sensitive to gross bits on my chicken).
7.) Portions are generous (we did two person meals and split them between four of us – adult, two teens, and kid – for lunch just fine).

Cons:
1.) It’s expensive to do every week (though if the alternative is going to a restaurant to eat, it’s a huge savings).
2a.) There are very few gluten free options and I couldn’t even see what the meals would be until after I signed up.
2b.) They didn’t say whether any of the recipes were gluten free so I had to guess which would be safe and of the 8 options that week only two were okay.
3.) If I wanted to do the family size meals they are for families of four with no way to scale up to my family of six.

The box arrived mid-day on the scheduled delivery day. The top was the vegetables, then there was an ice pack thing, then the meat (double sealed), and then another ice pack thing.
We Tried Blue Apron

I pulled everything out and made sure everything we’d need was there and then stuck it all in the refrigerator. I made one of the meals two days later and the other three days later (the vegetables were still in perfect shape when I used them).
We Tried Blue Apron

The first recipe we made was Ancho Chile Chicken Tacos with Cabbage Slaw. I enlisted Cameron’s help that day and we took turns playing upbeat songs very loudly on our Amazon Echo.

The ingredients we got for this recipe were chopped chicken breast, corn tortillas, shishito peppers, green onions, a lime, red cabbage, cilantro, creme fraiche, ancho chile paste, sugar, and grated cotija cheese. The only questionable ingredient for us was the tortillas. Many corn tortillas are gluten free, but not all. We happened to have some gluten free ones in our cabinet, though, so the two non-Celiacs ate the ones from the kit and the rest of us ate the ones we knew were safe.
We Tried Blue Apron

We chopped all the veggies and cooked the chicken and peppers as directed.
We Tried Blue Apron

We laid everything for the meal out on the counter so people could assemble their tacos themselves.
We Tried Blue Apron

They were so good. The slaw was a big surprise how good it was. We enjoyed this meal so much that I put it on the menu for next week.
We Tried Blue Apron

The other meal was Seared Steaks and Roasted Potatoes with Balsamic-Glazed Mushrooms. For this one, I cooked with Fritz and we turned Maroon 5 way up on the Echo.

The ingredients for this one were steaks, cremini mushrooms, garlic (needed 2 cloves; they sent a head), Yukon gold potatoes, kale, butter, balsamic vinegar, creme fraiche, and a shallot. The only things not provided by Blue Apron (for both recipes) was salt, pepper, and olive oil.
We Tried Blue Apron

We chopped up all the vegetables. Good thing we have a bunch of bowls!
We Tried Blue Apron

We cooked the steaks and while they rested, we cooked the mushrooms.
We Tried Blue Apron

While the steaks, mushrooms, and kale cooked, we oven roasted the potato wedges.
We Tried Blue Apron

We set out all the parts of the meal on the counter to get ready for plating.
We Tried Blue Apron

This meal was also quite delicious. My oldest son was not impressed by how rare I cooked the steak (I liked it!) and he refused to touch the mushrooms. He didn’t like the kale either. Everyone else seemed okay with everything.
We Tried Blue Apron

Our little Blue Apron experiment was fun and yummy. Will we do it again? Not regularly. We might get a couple meals for a treat/alternative to going out to eat once in a while. The cost really isn’t worth it to me, especially since I have to guess whether things are gluten free or not. One thing is for sure, though. They do make cooking fun!

First Day of School!

Yesterday we went back to school for the 2017-18 school year. As is typical as we get back into the groove, the day was long, but good, too.

Cameron has seminary at 7:15 this year. That is so much better than 6! The boys and I got ready for the day and I made breakfast (cinnamon rolls) while he was there. When he got home, we ate breakfast while watching CNN10.

First Day of School!

Then we moved into the dining room for grammar and spelling. We are using IEW Fix-It Grammar (The Nose Tree).

First Day of School!

In addition to going over the sentences and copying them, the boys are also circling the letter chunks (like they did in Spelling You See the last couple years) and diagramming parts of the sentences.

First Day of School!

Then we did geography. We are studying Turkey (using Layers of Learning) for the next two weeks. We did map work.

First Day of School!

We learned about camel wrestling and made little paper camels.

First Day of School!

The boys did their on their own work including Spanish (for Cameron and Adrian) and Latin (for Fritz), math and reading.

First Day of School!

This year all three boys are assigned to learn about whatever they want however they want. Adrian has chosen to do science experiments and record what he learns. He played with the super absorbent polymer that is in baby diapers. He was fascinated by it.

First Day of School!

Adrian finished school about 2 and the other two around 3:15. Considering we went to taekwondo and so were gone for a bit over an hour in the morning and then had to make lunch and eat it before getting back to school, I figure that’s not bad for the first day of school.

For snack, we had some hazelnuts. Adrian was not impressed.

First Day of School!

For dinner, we had ajvar, a dip made with eggplant and red bell peppers, kebabs and rice, and kuru incir tatlisi (poached stuffed figs).

First Day of School!

NOT Back to School Day 2017

Somehow we’ve already reached the end of the summer and it’s time to go back to school. But, as is our tradition, today while kids all around us went to their first day of school, we played.

We started off with crepes, Nutella, and turkey bacon for breakfast.
NOT Back to School Day 2017

The went to Main Event and played some games. Space Invaders has gotten quite the modern update!
NOT Back to School Day 2017

We played some air hockey and skee ball. Those games can be pretty intense in our family.
NOT Back to School Day 2017

Giant Connect 4 turned out to be way more fun than you might think. And also pretty intense.
NOT Back to School Day 2017

Cameron picked up a pool cue and started doing the jahng bong form right in the middle of Main Event. (Note: Cameron hates this picture because his stance is awful because he was just playing around.)
NOT Back to School Day 2017

Fritz and Adrian attempted the gravity ropes. Several months ago, my brother came to visit and we went to Main Event. Adrian tried the gravity ropes, but he got too scared and came back down. This time he was determined to make it across. Fritz got too scared this time, but Adrian made it!
NOT Back to School Day 2017


(Video of Adrian being brave.)

We played a game of laser tag before we picked our prizes and headed out.
NOT Back to School Day 2017

We had pizza at Luciano’s for dinner. They have some of the most amazing pizza and their gluten free crusts are really good.
NOT Back to School Day 2017

We ended the day with shaved ice from Bahama Bucks. Fritz said he must be making a whole lot of dopamine because he was feeling so happy.
NOT Back to School Day 2017


Check out previous years’ Not Back to School Days: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016. (I missed blogging about Not Back to School Day in 2011 and they went to public school in 2013.)

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I used a paper Bullet Journal, affectionately known as My Brain, for well over a year, but, then, a few months ago, I decided to go digital. I switched to OneNote (which I have on my laptop, phone, and iPad). In addition to everything I had in my paper Bullet Journal, I also use OneNote for school planning (which I’ll explain in part 2).

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I use it the most to tell me what to do each day. Our planned meals and snacks, schedule, and my to do list are all on one page so I can see what I need to do when. I have the My Brain notebook shared with Jamie so he can see what we are doing and what’s on our schedule and add to it as needed.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

My to do list is color coded so if I have a few minutes I can just look at the colored section with tasks that are most convenient at that time. Red is in the physical world, blue is on my phone, green is on my computer, iPad, or phone, and purple is on my iPad. If I don’t get something done, I just move it to the next day (like on today’s list, I moved fold clothes and put away clothes from yesterday).

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I have three notebooks that make up my digital Bullet Journal: My Brain, Recipes, and Journal. In My Brain, the My Day tab has several pages under it. Several of them are my calendar. They allow me to easily add things to my Today and Tomorrow pages. The Every Day, specific day of the week, and First of the Month pages are my to do lists for those days. I just copy and paste to add them to my Tomorrow page (which gets copy and pasted to today each morning). The RS Lesson Schedule page helps me keep track of what to read (in the Gordon B. Hinckley manual and Conference talks) each week to prepare for Relief Society.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I keep track of what I’m reading and what I’ve read in my Reading tab. The 2016 Books and 2017 Books pages are just running lists split by month of what books I read on what date and what rating I gave them (out of 5 stars). The Reading Challenges page is where I plan the books I’m reading each month this year to spell out the birthstones, what our book club books are, bedtime stories for the boys, school books, 52 Books Bingo, etc. My favorite page is Sentences That Made Me Laugh. That page has a bunch of quotes from books I’ve read that I found funny.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

The rest of the tabs in My Brain are Health which has pages for keeping track of Ani’s symptoms, what we are still owed from overpaying for some procedures she’s had, and the kids’ vaccine records. Blog Ideas is just one page of ideas for blog posts. Scouts which has pages for Fritz and Adrian with a list of things they need to complete for rank advancement. Sports has pages for our taekwondo schedule, a record of dates for earning belts and mid-terming, and Fritz’s times at swim meets. Church has pages for planning family home evening, my notes for General Conference (one page per Conference), my Personal Progress answers split by value, and a poem Ani wrote when she was around 12. Finances has pages with spreadsheets for our checking account, the kids’ money, our budget, and a list of 2017 pay days.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I really love my Recipes notebook. Most of the time we use it just like a cookbook, reading the recipes off the iPad as we cook. The notebook is extremely useful every Wednesday. That’s the day I make our menus for the week. I go through the sections of recipes and pick the breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners that sound good to me at the time. As I write down what we’ll be eating, I make our grocery list and note how the chicken will need to be cut. The grocery list is the used to order groceries from HEB (which Jamie picks up on his way home from work). I cut chicken once a week, on Wednesday night, so the gross bits can go out in the trash on Thursday morning (living in Texas, we definitely don’t want chicken sitting around very long).

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

My Journal notebook is mostly exactly what it sounds like. I copied my journals from 1999 on and divided them into years. Under the year sections, the journal entries are divided into months. I copy and paste all my Facebook posts including pictures into my journal. The AB Letters tab is where I wrote my letter to my aunt each week (it also gets sent to my mother-in-law). I keep her up to day on what’s going on in our lives. I’ve been keeping those letters since December. The Fun Stuff tab had a page for funny things people in the family have said. It’s probably no surprise to anyone that Adrian’s is the longest. I also have Adrian’s birth story, a page of things that happen that I am grateful for, and a page of things that blew my mind (like the fact Queen Victoria had a granddaughter who was still alive when I was born). The Christmas Letters tab has a copy of all of our annual Christmas letters (and one Valentine’s Day letter that year I was super late…) since 2007.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

So that’s how I use OneNote to be my brain. It totally keeps me organized. In a couple days I’ll post part 2 on how I use OneNote in our homeschool.

Magical Magic Birthday

Today Fritz turned 11 on the 11th making it his magic birthday. We always try to make the magic birthday extra special for our kids and it looks like we totally succeeded with this one. Fritz said no day can be perfect, but today was almost perfect.

Magical Magic Birthday

The 11th birthday is extra magical because, as JK Rowling taught us, that’s when kids learn they are a witch or wizard. Ever since Fritz read the Harry Potter series, he’s been hoping the magic world is real. For a while, there was an owl hanging around our house and he was pretty sure it was scouting out where we live for his upcoming birthday. Just like we did with Cameron almost 5 years ago, Fritz’s owl and letter were waiting for him when he woke up this morning.

Magical Magic Birthday

He was so excited about his owl and letter. I was a little concerned beforehand that he might think it was real just because he wants magic to exist so badly. I needn’t have worried. He loves his owl. I hope when he’s about to turn 16, he’s still got it in a place of honor in his room just like his big brother and his owl.

Magical Magic Birthday

Fritz got his big present a few weeks ago when he went to Houston for the Markiplier tour. Today we gave him his other present, a Harry Potter Pop Figure. He got a Dobby last year so his collection is growing.

Magical Magic Birthday

We played a bit of Pokemon Go. Jamie, Fritz, and I joined together in a raid battle and all defeated, and then caught, a Muk (none of had one before today). We defeated a gym and hit a bunch of PokeStops, too.

Magical Magic Birthday

We spent the day at The DoSeum. I was a little hesitant to go there, but Ani was bringing the girls she’s been nannying there today and convinced us to join them. I wasn’t sure there would be enough stuff to entertain kids as old as Fritz and Adrian. As it turned out, there was plenty for them to do. We visited every exhibit, but, honestly, we could’ve spent the entire time doing just one or two. The boys loved it and want to go back. In fact, we’re considering an annual pass because they loved it so much.

Magical Magic Birthday

The first thing we did when we walked in was customize some fish using our phones and then added them to the virtual fish tank on the wall. Then we played in the wind tunnel and with some pulleys.

Magical Magic Birthday

We spent a couple hours in the spy room. There were lots of activities to do. The first thing they had to do was complete specific activities in order to get an access code. Once they got the access code, they could make their spy badge and then do more activities in order to become a master spy. One section was set up like a room in a house with clues hidden all over the place. It was a lot like an escape room. Adrian thinks we ought to build a room like that in our house. He spent a really long time working on the clues in there.

Magical Magic Birthday

The other exhibits inside included light, sound, color, and building activities. The kids really enjoyed playing with the green screen. Adrian was wearing a green shirt which made the green screen a little more fun. Fritz played with a green sheet to make himself disappear like he was under an invisibility cloak.

Magical Magic Birthday

We went outside on one side and played in some water activities and climbed on a huge climbing set. It was hot today (in the very high 90s), but the humidity was low (less than 30%) so it wasn’t so bad out, especially in the shade.

Magical Magic Birthday

Outside on the other side, we discovered a bamboo forest, and eco-pond, a treehouse with a fairy village underneath, and a fun little river to play in. The pond had quite a few red eared sliders in it so now we know just how big Ani’s hatchling, Venus, will get when she’s full grown (huge!).

Magical Magic Birthday

After we left The DoSeum, we went to Big’z Burger Joint for dinner. They have some of the best burgers and we can get amazing gluten free buns there. Fritz was pretty much in heaven eating his burger.

Magical Magic Birthday

We went to PetSmart partly because the boys love to watch the fish and partly because we needed to get a basking platform to go in Venus’s tank. We also got some ghost shrimp to help clean the tank/be food for the turtle (we also have minnows in there both to be fun to watch and also to be turtle food).

Magical Magic Birthday

When we got home, we watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I’d been meaning to buy it since it came out on video (we saw it in the movie theater), but hadn’t gotten around to it. My procrastination came in handy because the digital version (we only buy movies/TV shows in digital) was on a great sale today for Prime Day.

Magical Magic Birthday

So that was Fritz’s truly magical magic birthday. Adrian said Fritz’s birthday was way better than his own last month and I told him it’s because this was Fritz’s extra special 11 on the 11th birthday. So now Adrian is expecting a truly epic 19th birthday. Guess we better start planning!