Science Fair 2017 - Minecraft Potions


Last week, Lewie's school held a Science Fair.  It was optional for second graders, but we still participated.  (I told Lewie that coming from a family of educators, there's no way we were going to let a science fair pass us by, even if my college major was English.)

The directions told us to choose something fun--a theme we would enjoy.  I asked Lewie one Saturday afternoon, and he replied, "Minecraft Potions."  Hmmmm.  I immediately googled Minecraft Potions, which didn't turn up good results.  However, when I googled science fair potions, we were in luck!

Lewie had to use the scientific method.  He had to ask a question, follow it up with a hypothesis, explain the experiment (materials, procedure, and observation), and then write his conclusion. Thanks to some wonderful ideas of other "science fair moms" before me, we decided to make two "potions."

His first potion mixed vinegar with baking soda.  (He guessed it would turn brown and smell bad.) In reality, when the two ingredients were mixed together, bubbles came to the surface and made a hissing sound.   (We later learned that the reaction occurred because both ingredients create the gas carbon dioxide.  These were the bubbles wanting to escape the surface.)  It didn't turn brown, but it did smell bad--like vinegar.

The next potion used water, vegetable oil, food coloring, and Alka-Seltzer tablets.  Lewie predicted the potion would explode.  (It probably would have if we used more than the recommended amount of Alka-Seltzer.)  We took a one liter bottle and filled it with a cup of water.  The rest of the bottle was filled with vegetable oil.  Then we placed ten drops of orange food coloring.  The water and the food coloring sunk to the bottom while the oil rested on top.  (Turns out--water is denser than oil.)  When we put 1/2 an Alka-Seltzer tablet in the bottle, water bubbles with the orange food coloring rose to the surface of the oil creating a "lava lamp" effect.  Lewie and I both loved the result.  In fact, Lewie was so proud of his creation, he thought we could become rich by making more of them and selling them on Amazon!

In all, I was proud of my little scientist.  On Monday, during the day, he shared his potions with his class--he was particularly excited to show his "bubble lamp," which can be used over and over again. During the science fair at night, he proudly demonstrated his "bubble lamp" to parents and onlookers. It was exciting to watch my little scientist in action.

At the end of the fair, he was called up to the stage to receive his participation medal and certificate. He was only one of six second-graders that participated in the science fair.  (There's about 60 students in Lewie's second-grade class.)  My darling walked up the stairs, waved to the audience, received his award, and then smiled and waved at us.  It was one of those proud moments I'll keep sealed forever in my heart.

The March Blizzard of 2017 - a.k.a. Why I Don't Like Snow Days


Just when I thought the word "snow" had left our vocabulary for a while, Mother Nature surprised us with 16 - 20 more inches of the stuff.  This meant not one but TWO days off from school and work. Snow days, of course, sound exciting, romantic even, but in keeping it "real," I'm not a fan of them in our house.

Here are my top reasons why I don't like snow days...

1)  We feel claustrophobic. During yesterday's blizzard, our governor mandated a travel ban for all people other than emergency personnel.  So, not only did this mean that we were "stuck" inside our house, but it also meant I would spend the next twelve hours bickering with my husband who insisted he still needed to go the grocery store to pick up chips and ice cream.

2.  We get irritated by our 800 square foot home.  Our "tiny house" has one TV, period.  I strategically planned it this way, so that we're not accustomed to sleeping with TVs in our bedrooms or isolating ourselves into different rooms throughout the day.  Still, when the three of us are home at once for a twelve hour period (or longer), there's bound to be some arguments.  I want to do my meditation video, Lewie wants to play his Xbox, and Big Lew wants to watch his family-friendly selection of TV shows--The Last 48, The Walking Dead, and Intervention.  Needless to say, our happy living room becomes a battleground of the wills...

3.  Being inside the house makes me lethargic.  I don't mean slightly tired.  I mean downright lazy.  Everything from climbing the stairs to my bedroom to pealing my butt off the couch takes an extravagant amount of effort.  Thus, nothing ever gets done on a snow day.  Not ever.

4.  Being inside makes me hungry.  Heck, yesterday the three of us ate an entire week''s worth of groceries.  We feasted on everything, especially unhealthy food like fried chicken, ice cream, early chocolate Easter candy and potato chips (just to name a few).

5.  The house needs to be deodorized.  After two days of lazily sitting around, good hygiene goes out the window.  Showers and brushing teeth become optional, dirty clothes are piled up, and the sink is filled with used, crusty, germ-infested dishes.  Again, because my energy is at an all-time low, there's no motivation to do anything except to sleep and pretend I'm living somewhere else; a bungalow in Hawaii sounds perfect right about now.

6.  I feel like a bad parent.  Snow days, for me, usually equates to days off from work and "free time" with my son.  In an ideal world, I should be serving chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, followed by reading,snow activities, hot chocolate, and board games.  Instead, my laziness manifests and I find myself serving cereal and feeling lucky if I accomplish one of the said activities.  Since we had a "blizzard" this time, there was no going out to enjoy the snow.  Having our face getting pelted by hard ice pellets is where I draw the line.

7.  I need a chiropractic adjustment.  With 20" of snow in the forecast, we knew waiting out the storm would be bad.  On four separate occasions, we went out to clear the sidewalks.  In classic blizzard fashion, there were snow drifts--some areas with 1 to 2 inches with other areas collecting up to 8 inches.  The snow was hard and HEAVY.  After the second round, my arms and back felt bruised and battered.  Our living quarters turned into an emergency relief station equipped with ibuprofen, Arniflora (arnica) gel, heating pads, and blankets.  Our kitchen chairs became drying racks for soaked coats, hats, gloves, scarves, and socks,

This gel is a savior in our house.  We rub it onto all of our sore muscles.

8.  Good help these days is hard to find.  We had to hire a new "plow guy" this year.  After some calling around, we settled on a gentleman that lives up the street from us.  Since we knew the storm would be bad, we told him to feel free to come out to plow our driveway twice.  That didn't happen... On day one, he was nowhere to be found.  On day two, he came roaring in, trying to push all 16 inches of snow at once.  It didn't work.  Heavy snowbanks were piled everywhere, and there was still a mess to clean up. The only answer was to dig ourselves out; my back enjoyed that!

This is our driveway after shoveling for about an hour...
Yes, snow days are not glamorous in our house.  We don't spend the day baking cookies and sitting in front of a warm toasty fire.  (We don't have a fireplace.)  We spend the day relaxing our sore, tired muscles on the couch while watching Lewie play Minecraft on the Xbox.  We spend the day binge eating, leaving a trail of wrappers, empty cartons, and dirty dishes around the house.  We sleep, we bicker, we complain.  I almost didn't write this post; I didn't want to sound too negative.  Still, there is a silver lining at the end of this post.  Despite my aversion to snow days, Little Lewie still LOVES them.

What do you do on a snow day in your house?

The Kid Behind the Blog - March Edition


I can't believe March is here and in full force too.  We just finished celebrating Dr. Seuss week; next week is Lewie's science fair, followed by St. Patrick's Day;  and then the week after that, we have birthday parties along with a special surprise--Lewie will have the chance to meet his favorite YouTuber at the Oakdale Theater--Dan TDM.  Tickets weren't cheap, so I'm letting this special day be one for Little Lewie and Daddy.

I have a difficult time staying positive during the month of March.  For one, March taunts us with its weather.  One day we can have a beautiful, springlike, 60 degree day; the very next day, the temperature can easily switch back to the teens.  This week has been cold, windy, and, the entire family caught a cold--one that is likely to stay around for a few weeks.  We're tired, and this year, the month has no school holidays or vacation days.  It's just one long month of patiently waiting for spring and needed vacation time.  Still, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, or in this case, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  By the end of the month, hopefully, there should be signs of daffodils and tulips; the days will be longer, and the birds are back too.

My son, at age eight, is too little to have developed an opinion of March just yet.  For him, I stay positive, reminding him that Easter is right around the corner as well as April vacation.  I've decided to participate in the "Kids Behind the Blog" linkup again, so here are my son's responses to some questions on St. Patrick's Day, spring, and all things March...

This was Lewie and his leprechaun trap last year...  This year, I think we'll be focusing more on the science fair.

What's at the end of a rainbow?
"A pot of gold" (pause) "That's all I can think of."

What do you like to do when it rains? Jump in puddles or stay inside?
"Play inside because I still get exercise."
I then ask, "How do you exercise indoors?"
He responds, "I jump around so excited to play Minecraft and Star Wars Battlefront."
(He's right; he doesn't sit and play his games.  This kid is animated and lively when he plays. He actively jumps around the living room, talking to or about the game.  I think, personally, he's pretending to be a YouTuber.)

If you found a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow what would you do?
"Um...I would call 911...No, I'm just joking.  I would ask him if he wants a lucky penny."
"Do you have a lucky penny?" I ask Lewie.
"No.  Before I give it to him, I would need to find one."

Tell me three ways you know it's springtime.
"Doesn't it rain a lot in the spring? rains a lot, it gets a little warmer, and the air smells good."

Do you wear green on St. Patrick's Day?  What happens if you don't wear green?
"Yeah sure.  I don't know what happens if you don't wear green, Can you put dot, dot, dot?"  (He loves ellipses.)  "I have no words of wisdom."  (This is one of his favorite sayings.)

I'm looking forward to linking up again with Stephanie of Wife Mommy Me on April 12th. Her March linkup is here:

Our First and Last Winter Adventure


This year's winter cycle was a little unpredictable--snow one day then rain the next.  The constant mild temperatures in between the "snow storms" kept us from being able to go outside to sled, make snow angels, etc. etc .

Finally, just before February vacation, we were hit with about 13 inches of snow that actually lasted for a few days.  We had to act fast because 60 degree temperatures were slated for the weekend.  I took Lewie sledding on a Saturday morning (at our usual spot) before the snow went into a major melt-down.  Then, on Monday, we drove an hour an a half to a ski resort where they make their own snow, so we could get one day in of snow tubing.  It was both our first and our last day to enjoy the winter.

After a day of sledding on Saturday at our "usual" place, we all decided to go snow tubing at a real ski resort on Monday. Thank goodness they were still making snow!  The snow tubing was a little icy in some areas since temperatures were well into the 50's....

Snow Tubing at Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, MA

Can you see the "icy" look to the snow?  The snow tubing was FAST!

We had a lot of time to take pictures since it seemed that everyone chose to go snow tubing
during the long holiday weekend.

Ready, set, go!!!

Having a bite to eat and a bathroom break before heading home....

I am so glad we were able to get some snow tubing in during Lewie's shortened February vacation.  It was our first time traveling to Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, MA,, and the ride was absolutely gorgeous--no traffic, just miles and miles of beautiful woods and farmland.  We had so much fun, we made a promise to ourselves to go every year.

Now, only a week later, (with 70 degree temperatures) there is no snow left in sight.  It appears that spring is just around the corner.

Random Acts of Kindness Week


Last week was BUSY.  Little Lewie and I made s'mores Valentines for his classmates ("I wish I had s'more friends like you.")  Then we were baking cookies and creating Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) packages for our friends.  Since our friends live in all different parts of the state, we had a little bit of traveling to do, so our last package wasn't delivered until yesterday.

Little Lewie and I started celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Week when he was four.  Similar to now, he would help me bake cookies, put packages together, and then come with me on deliveries.  I thought it was a good tradition to start, and now I'm committed to it for life.  The goal was to teach Lewie to think about others.  It was meant to show him how a little bit of kindness can have a lasting impact.  It was also meant to teach him that the secret to our own happiness often rests in how we treat others.

By now, my friends usually anticipate something will be coming to their home during the month of February.  Even if it's not a surprise, I still hope the gesture adds some sunshine to their day.  Since life is short, we might as well make it short and SWEET.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day and a great RAK week too.   "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."--Aesop

The Kid Behind the Blog - February Edition


February is one of my favorite months. With Valentine's Day, Random Acts of Kindness Week, and February vacation coming up quickly, there's a lot to celebrate.  Ultimately, it's a month about spreading love and kindness, and since Random Acts of Kindness Day falls right during Lewie's vacation (Feb. 17th), I'm looking forward to skipping work, so I can stay home with Lewie to bake cookies, create little "care" packages, and spread some cheer to friends and family.

Last month, I participated in "The Kids Behind the Blog" link-up hosted by Secrets of a SAHM, Hall Around Texas, Wife Mommy Me,  The Adventure Starts Here, and  Our Pretty Little Girls.  I love the concept.  Each month, I "interview" my son and share his comments with other moms.  At age eight, I know Lewie might be older than some of the other little ones that are interviewed, but his comments are still just as precious and innocent...

Here are the two "loves" of my life...

What does the word love mean to you?

"It means someone who is very close to you.  I love you (Mommy), Daddy, Grammy, Sarah, Ninny, Papa (who is deceased), my aunts, Uncle Moises, and Lily and Brooklyn--well kind-of."  (He loves his younger cousins Lily and Brooklyn, but he has more of a sibling relationship with them!)  "I mentioned pretty much everybody, right?"

Kids choice!  How do you want to spend Valentine's Day?
"With Sarah giving gifts and playing Xbox."  (Sarah is Lewie's "older cousin."  He looks up to her like a big sister.)

Do you have a Valentine?  If so, who?
"No, I don't."  (At this point, I ask Lewie if I can be his Valentine.  He answers, "Well, you're my mom, so you kind of already are.")

How many days are in the month of February?
He runs to the calendar and announces, "thirty-one."  (I think he may have been looking at January...)

How do you show someone you love them?
"I have no idea.  Hold on...  By hugging them!"

I'm looking forward to linking up again with Beth of Our Pretty Little Girls on March 8th. Her February linkup is here: 

Roller Skating


We have a secret... Since February 2015, Little Lewie has been taking roller skating lessons.  We don't have lessons every Saturday morning, but if I had to venture a guess, we've probably been to 70+ lessons over these past two years.

At age 3, Lewie went roller skating for the very first time.  We were so excited to introduce him to Roller Magic because it was the skate rink that both Lew and I went to as kids.  I had roller skating birthday parties there at ages 9 and 10, and Lew went there faithfully every weekend until he was a teenager.  If there wasn't a five year difference between us, we often joke that our romance would have first started at Roller Magic as kids.

When we took Lewie at 3, we quickly learned he was still too young.  He seemed to like the music, but he was a little scared of all the people on the rink.  I was even scared of all the people on the rink! With lots of bad skaters, sooner or later, someone would get into a collision with us.  We attempted to go back when Lewie turned 4 and again at age 5.

In January 2015 (when Lewie was six), I saw flyers at Roller Magic advertising their Saturday morning skating lessons.  For just $15 per session, Little Lewie could have a private lesson and have the entire rink to himself!  It was a no-brainer; I scheduled our first lesson, and we've been back ever since.

Lewie loves his teacher, Ms. Christine, and he loves the individual lessons.   When he first started, he clutched her hand in fear of falling and moved slower than molasses.  Now, almost two years later, he's skating confidently and slowly learning how to do tricks like "scissors" and skating backwards. He's been taking his time (my son is non-competitive and likes to do everything at his own "slower" pace), but he's learning.  (Pretty soon, I want to go for lessons, too, so I can practice skating backwards.)

I'm still searching for Lewie's first video at roller skating lessons; it's fun to see the progress.  Even when Little Lewie was first born, I often dreamed of an opportunity to take him skating.  Now we're looking forward to many family skate nights (especially in the summer when the rink is a little less crowded)!  We're so glad that good ole Roller Magic is around for another generation.