Friday, March 28, 2008

Easter Goofiness

Random pictures from Easter morning. Aleks with a baby Black Star chick on his head:Bastian, Aunt Lilly, and Aleks, all equally zoned out in front of the boob tube:

Decorating the carrot cake Grandma Cat made with Jelly Beans:
Aunt Natty had a whole scheme, which the kids ignored.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Easter Dinner

All my photos are in the wrong place, on the wrong computer... So I'm doing this piecemeal.

During Easter dinner, Bastian started getting into the carrot cake he and Aleks made. First he was just eating off the jelly beans they used to decorate it, but then he started grabbing chunks of icing, then chunks of cake itself. Then Aleks came along and joined in (of course, after he saw the adults all giggling about it).
Later, after the boys got muddy and covered in bits of food and lord knows what else, they stripped to nothing and watched Tom and Jerry videos on YouTube.

Walking to the River

While visiting family, we went on a walk to the Englewood Dam to check out the height of the water since there'd been lots of recent melting snow and rain and flooding in parts of Ohio. Aunt Natty came with us. The road was closed for driving due to the height of the water in the flood basin, so we had to hoof it. Papa found some upturned wild onions, which he had Aleks smell. Aleks did not like them. Papa went on about how people should collect them and eat them more often, though we did not. He said the same thing about the wild chickens I saw in Key West.
I found a black salamander laying on the road. Papa said he'd never seen one before outside of aquariums. He was surprised I was able to spot it at all. He was teeny.
Aleks examines the salamander, who curls up in my palm, twisting over on himself. We put him in the edge of the woods under some leaves where he'll be less likely to get eaten or hurt. He seemed pretty still when I found him, so I wonder if he wasn't hurt to begin with.
Aleks picks up some sticks. Papa tells him the big stick is too big for a walking stick.
Aleks tells Papa, "It's not a walking stick. It's a draggin' stick." I picture a dragon made of wood.
An airplane flies overhead against gray overcast skies.
We reach the water's edge, not too far down the road. It's up really high!
Ducks and geese swim by, next to this stop sign where the road should be.
The boys check it out.
Aleks tests the water.
When we turn to go, Bastian refuses to come with us. I hold his hand and guide him, though he keeps turning back and running towards the water. Eventually we keep walking, though then he runs off into the woods. Here he closely resembles the famous Bigfoot photos.
It's really a good thing he was wearing red. Can you spot him in there (click to enlarge)?
Aunt Natty captures Bastian and removes his boots so he can piggyback it the rest of the way.
I get worn out going up the hill, so Natty takes over. Woo-hoo! We made it!
Here's the flood plain in all its glory as we drive over the top of the dam. There was also a huge whirlpool right at the base of the dam, but we weren't able to get a photo.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Player Piano

Bastian loves to bang on the old piano at Grandma Cat's house. It was once a player piano, but the scrolls were long ago removed. It's the heaviest, most giantest thing and makes great noise.
Aleks can recognize middle C, but prefers electronic keyboards attached to computers with video games.

Spring Break

I was away last week on vacation without the family and Papa did not photograph or blog about the boys' exploits in front of the computer and portable DVD player. When I got back, however, we headed down to the grandparents' farm for baby chickens and Easter-ness to celebrate the beginning of Spring.

Aleks loved the Black Stars, tried to name them. Bastian too. We had to chain the door to the laundry room closed so he wouldn't hassle the chicks too much. He dropped one on its back and nearly killed it. She survived, thank goodness.

Later on the first night, Papa found Aleks in the buff playing with the Buff Orpingtons again (except they weren't really Buff Orpingtons).
Bastian loves to feed the big chickens with Grandpa Jim. He hassles all the hens.
Both my boys are popular with the chicks. When they aren't trying to kill them.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dyeing Easter Eggs

Again, doing this stuff piecemeal and way late. While visiting Grandma Cat & Grandpa Jim for the Easter weekend, the kids got to color eggs. Because my parents have their own chickens, some of which are brown egg layers and some of which are Araucanas, which is also known as the Easter Egg Chicken, the eggs were already pretty colorful and didn't necessarily need dye. In the past, we've had a lot of trouble dyeing them at all - they usually come out rather pale. This year, however, we discovered the secret.Aleks uses a white crayon to draw on the eggs in lieu of the wax crayon that didn't come with our Paas kit for some asinine reason.
Grandpa Jim, Grandma Cat, and ziggy, who eyes the wine, sit after dinner watching everyone make a mess of the table and themselves and creating technicolor chicken fetus casings.
And the secret is: straight vinegar mixed with the Paas tablets. I believe that in the past we've done a water/vinegar mix, which didn't yield such spectacular results. One of these years, I think I'd like to try plant dyes, like Pepperpaints did.
Some of our fantastically bright eggs in a basket on Easter morning. Unfortunately for Jim, he appears to be the only one who can stand actually eating all these hardboiled eggs. I don't mind one once in awhile, but the Easter ones never taste as good for some reason. I believe in the past we've just taken them all out of the baskets in the morning and made up some deviled eggs for Spring Festival dinner in the evening.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Montessori Method Take 2 - Pouring Textures

Taking another leaf out of Maria Montessori's book after seeing a photo of a mom's Montessori playroom, I got a bunch of bowls, scoops, funnels, and grains out for the kids to experiment with. Bastian always loves when I put an activity out for him and comes right up to join in. He also loves cooking and using real bowls and real food was probably pretty appealing. I used quinoa, basmati rice, kidney beans, and red lentils. He went to work right away.
He scooped up a bit of everything.
Then dumped it in another bowl or through the funnel.
Aleks got curious and came over.
Then he too joined in scooping.
And mixing and pouring.
Then there were grains all over my dining room. On the floor, on the chairs, on the table, on the rug, in the plant, on the windowsill...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Papa's Pepper Plants

Papa is germinating several varieties of hot pepper seeds in trays in the kitchen. They rest on a heating pad, to encourage them. Aleks doesn't like spicy things and neither does mama, and from Bastian's experience with the peppercorn, I'd say it's safe to say that he's not particularly fond of spicy stuff either. Regardless of our aversions, Papa loves the heat. Which is odd when one considers our genetic backgrounds. The kids and I are all Mexican, whereas Jon is Ukranian. I suppose genetic background has little to do with taste.

When sent out to purchase a heating pad to warm these earthen buds, I accidentally got one that has an automatic shut-off after two hours. Rather than taking it back to the store to exchange it, Papa opened it up and set to work anyway. It is now Aleks' job to turn the thing back on to "super high heat" when the automatic shut-off takes over. He checks the control panel several times daily and makes sure to tell whoever is listening that he turned it back onto super high heat. Well done, my boy.

Magnet Mosaic Tiles

I bought these great multicolored magnet tiles for Aleks at the holidays that he had absolutely no interest in whatsoever, likely because they're open-ended play that is fair trade and sustainable and expensive. Of course. When assembled on the metal circle they come on, the pieces create a beautiful spiral of color. I got them down to try to tempt him from the computer where he's been glued. So he made a zombie on the fridge.
Later he made a vampire as well, and then Bastian came along and knocked all the magnets to the floor. Which was fitting.

Monday, March 10, 2008

We got out!

After no plow for three? four? days, finally we got shoveled out of our driveway. After, of course, we got the car stuck and I dug it out by myself, but I digress.

It turns out the plow guy's truck broke somehow while plowing our neighbor's driveway. So he came back the next day with a rented bobcat. It kept looking like he was going to tip it. It was very exciting to watch. Bastian and I stared out the windows, following the movement from room to room to see it all the snow pushed into huge piles.
A clear path for our car! Jon went for groceries finally! We have fresh vegetables and eggs!
Five feet of snow:

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Two Feet of Snow

With two feet of snow on the ground, the boys make their debut on the front lawn. Cautiously, at first.Bastian digs in, trying to escape to the street.
He can't get far since the snow is almost as high as him.
Aleks gives up, lays down in the middle of the yard.
The driveway and the yard are the same height, since the plow didn't come. By 1 am Monday morning, they'd plowed the neighbors driveway (employed by the same landlord), but not ours. Not sure if Aleks will make it to speech therapy by 11:30.
The extent of it.