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: