Monday, October 31, 2016

variations on a theme

it was a gorgeous day to walk around in stoneybrooke park while artemis was in biology class. i was particularly impressed by a tree that had no pinecones at all on one side and variations of green and brown pinecones elsewhere. oh, and the sticky sap, too.

can you see the figure here? with powerful arms?

back at the church location where the class is held, i happily crunched acorns under my boots.

and now for something (not so) completely different: pretty, autumn-y things i have found along various walks to/from school and elsewhere.

having a camera is handy when you find a neat something-or-other and your walking companion isn't entirely sure what tree that unusual-looking acorn is from and you need to look it up when you get home. (it's from a burr oak, btw.)

if i'm *very* lucky, i'm permitted to take a photo of my eldest and even share it with others. this rare opportunity was at stribling orchard for apple picking. they had bees, delighting us both.

if i remember to take my eyes off the ground when walking, i occasionally discover a treasure among the fallen leaves, like a fabulous fungus.

finally, though it may have been unseasonably warm for my meadowlark morning meandering this weekend, there was some lovely falliage. (get it? fall + foliage = falliage? save me.)

oh, how i do love this season and all of its pretty colors!

Friday, October 28, 2016

what comes to mind

when ander learned that he was going on a field trip with his classmates to the kennedy center, his thoughts went immediately to the kennedy space center because, well, because space and because that's what he's been reading about and learning about and listening to for years.

he wasn't pleased when i informed him that it was actually the kennedy center for the performing arts. when we talked a little more about how it made more sense that he would be taking a day trip into washington, d.c., rather than a substantially longer trip to cape canaveral in florida, he was still disappointed, but he cheered up a bit when i told him it was certainly a good opportunity to dress in his business attire (i love to see him in his shirt and tie and sportcoat and great-grandfather's tie clip).

the students had apparently seen some kind of introductory video at school days beforehand because he mentioned an organ that needed a whole room built (i think he meant the rubenstein family organ which i would not have known about otherwise), and ander was especially pleased to learn that he was to be the first on our family to step foot inside the concert hall.

when he came home from school that day, ander was very excited to inform us that the national symphony orchestra had performed *star wars music* and that a woman on stage wielded a toy lightsaber. i couldn't get any more details out of him, but suffice it to say that it won't be his last trip.

now fast forward a few hours into the evening: after dinner, ander comfortably ensconced in his hooded astronaut union suit pajamas, when steve casually asks if anyone is interested in seeing a rocket launch. WHAT?!?

i knew that nasa was to launch an unmanned rocket to the international space station from wallops island the day before and i was sad to have missed it. it had been rescheduled, though, and steve saw an alert in his newsfeed and he identified a very local park nearby that afforded us a reasonable chance of seeing the flare from burning fuel.

so we headed out to the dark field, dimly lit by the store lights across the street, and directed our eyes towards the tree line over which we hoped to glimpse a burst of light. after setting an alarm for 1.5 minutes post-launch, steve and i sat on the ground while the kids played tag in huge crop circles. we saw a figure slowly approach our vantage point, inquiring if we were there for the launch. he had his smartphone displaying the livestream of the launchpad along with the chatter from mission control. ander was immediately interested and started telling the gentleman about the antares rocket. turns out that mr. jeff knew that already, probably because he works for nasa - he's an actual planetary scientist who works for nasa! he explained some jargon while we waited for the slightly delayed countdown to begin, then we watched the livestream launch, then, as predicted, a minute and a half later we saw a burst of red appear in the night sky. we saw it! we saw the rocket! ander spent the next minutes running and jumping and crashing into his sibling while the adults continued watching and listening to mission control until the glowing speck traveled far enough away that we could no longer see it over the tree line.

i got mr. jeff's contact information and reassured him that we would be in contact about the tour he offered of his facilities. his work sounds so interesting to me - involvement in the OSIRIS-REx mission to collect samples from asteroid bennu. he said he'd been at the atlas v launch in cape canaveral, florida and suggested that we try to visit the kennedy space center because it's just so great.

and so now i'm looking into planning an adventure to the place that first came to ander's mind.

funny how the universe works, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

huzzah and all that

last year's experience at the maryland renaissance festival was good enough to warrant attending again. we split forces early on for ander to acquire a new sword and scabbard; steve followed artemis in her search for crystals and weaponry-coveting. ander remembered the suicide chocolate cake with fondness and requested it again; he was also surprisingly satisfied with the chicken-on-a-lance. i staved off my hunger with a spinach pie (pasty) and canterbury pork pocket. beyond eating and shopping, though, we all enjoyed the jousting and related pageantry and princely ander was well-met by other sword-bearing knights and armed ruffians looking to engage each other in battle.

jousting & tournament games never disappoint

(slightly) inauthentic food ; frozen cheesecake on a stick

Monday, October 24, 2016


the air and scare at udvar-hazy was definitely heavy towards star wars characters again this year, but not for my kids, who eventually decided upon voltron: legendary defender.

artemis was pidge gunderson, complete with her own hand-crafted rover replica. ander, of course, did not want to be just the paladin of the black lion - he wanted to be voltron itself!

artemis created ander's entire costume and attended to many details

moving around in voltron's boxy body proved difficult for ander (especially in the heavy winds outside the building while we waited for entry) and he has plans to modify it prior to trick-or-treating. artemis is already at work creating paladin armor that will make her character more identifiable.

ander was glad to have gone this year, but i could tell he was disappointed by the shocking lack of galra opponents for him to fight; he was denied the opportunity to demonstrate his skills as a legendary defender of the universe. so he'll likely wear a jedi costume next year, confident that there will always be a battle available against those who embrace the dark side of the force.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

wet, yet wonderful

this weekend marked our third occasion for family camping with a local homeschool group. the wet weather kept some away; others were delayed in arriving, and we decided to head home early for a more restful sleeping experience on the second night. there were so many fulfilling moments, though, and enough photos for me to create a scrapbook and blog post.

our cabin friend

happy about getting the top bunk!

the tarps kept the teen dry until about 3 am

a light drizzle only mildly dampened our dreams for a roaring fire

but it was enough to alight the marshmallows & burn the jiffy-pop

my feet were happily toasty

news of my cooking breakfast meats spread quickly

the (late) morning was made much better with my chai

teens playing cards, dad reading, ander engaged in parcheesi with agreeable partners = happy me

doin' the dab
the game apples to apples was a big hit among the cadettes

a poncho & boots make for satisfying nature walks in the rain

his collection


budding photographer

he prefers my phone's camera for the variety of filters

how ander sees me
how steve sees me
how i see me