Thursday, March 29, 2012


We celebrated my birthday a day early with a delightful dinner, great company and amazing gifts. There was a lot of planning involved in this event. Noah started months ago on his thoughtful and beautiful gift - a jewelry box with four internal sections and the bottom covered in rich green felt. Bob poured over cook books and recipe collections all weekend to come up with the perfect menu, and Lukas and Bob got acquainted with every aisle of Safeway in their grocery shopping on Monday evening.
On Tuesday, I was banned from the kitchen shortly after lunch. I heard clanging, banging, chopping and whirling, and it did not take long for wonderful smells to make its way to my little corner of the house. Lukas took on the responsibility for some of the desserts, something to accompany the delicate gluten free cookies that they had baked the night before. Bob chopped and stirred, sampled, stirred some more and sampled again to ensure the just right touch of each item.
The boys set the table with heirloom china, sterling silver and crystal glasses for water. Lukas found small after dinner liqueur glasses in the china cabinet that he deemed appropriate for the 'expensive' wine that he had selected at the store with Bob's help. My little glass was decorated with pink gift wrapping ribbons to make it extra special, and making me stick out my pinkie as I drank - very dainty and special. To top everything off there was a garland of balloons strung across the archway to the kitchen.
We enjoyed a scrumptious dinner of roast beef with chimichurri sauce, a wonderful raspberry/asparagus side dish along with a big green salad. My dessert was served on a fudge in the shape of a plate, with chocolate macaroons on it topped with home made chocolate ice cream and three candles (yes that is the correct amount of candles on Mamma's cake). Although Bob had baked at least 40 cookies, it did not take long for those to disappear, as everyone made chocolate ice cream sandwiches.
After opening generous gifts and laughing over funny cards, it was time to close down Casa Bob and shift into packing and getting ready mode. Although Noah needed to go to bed, he could have easily complete at least ten more tasks as wired as he was from his sugar/chocolate rush. He made the Energizer Bunny seem lazy.

What a wonderful and memorable evening filled with family and special friends.

Is this really science?

We continued our studies in energy on Friday. How does weight impact kinetic energy? How much kinetic energy does a ball need to make a loop on a roller coaster? How far can we shot potatoes?  Those were some of the questions we sought to find answers to as well played - erhm, I am mean did school with our friends.
Our first experiment was see how far little vehicles would go when we let them go at the top of a ramp. The results were not exactly what they had expected as design had a big impact, one that they had not taken into consideration when making initial predictions. A great learning moment and with Noah's enthusiasm for Lego and Lukas engineering capabilities this is something we will come back to.  Although we did not calculate the energy, we had all the measurements so that each person could calculate the energy later - Lukas and Noah, have you done it yet?
Noah was crowned the winner of the potato plug shooting, reaching the driveway across the street. It took a bit of trial and error to get some good distance and aim, however they all caught on quickly. Since we only had a few potatoes, we tried jams as well, with not such great results. Another good learning opportunity, and chances for future trials with other household items - what really does go the furthest?
The final challenge of the day was to build a roller coaster for a small marble. Silas quickly took the lead in the tree and the team worked together to increase height, create steeper drops and more advanced turns. Hopefully, they will have a greater appreciation for all the physics that goes into building a fun roller coaster next time they visit an amusement park.

Jellies and jelly

We spent a fun afternoon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium with our dear friends. Since we have a membership at the Aquarium, we typically do not 'do the entire Aquarium' each time, but pick an area of interest for the day.
The jellies never stop to mesmerize me and the children marveled at the Sunfish in all his ugliness.
No trip to the Aquarium is complete without some MYO yogurt topped off with jelly candy, and the good friends had fun comparing their concoctions and how much each weighed. Mamma is glad for the locals discount and punch cards offering a free MYO once in a while.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A perfect cup of cocoa

Noah is a firm believer in the power of hot cocoa. One morning he made himself THE perfect cup, hot dark cocoa, whip cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder on top. This got him through some drudgery math!


Noah needed a new passport, and therefore a new passport photo. The 'photo booth' in our kitchen yielded some fun poses, he has a very expressive face.

Live theater

We are truly fortunate to have access to high quality live theater performances here on the Peninsula. Ariel Theater puts on incredible children's shows, always top notch and such a great and fun experience. This time we went to see The Hobbit. It made it extra special that Lukas and Noah's good friend had a speaking part in the play.
It was a fun morning that began with Starbucks and ended with In-n-Out Burger...


A few weeks ago, Bob could not walk even one step without a crutch, but when the St Patrick's Day 5 K race came around he signed up the entire family! We did not run but walked fast twice around the perimeter of the school campus. The last time we did a 5k walk/run the boys received medals and this kept everyone going as we neared the end. Unfortunately, cost cutting is hitting even the 5k run and the medals were replaced by certificates.  Nevertheless we had a great time, realizing that we had improved our time from last year's Turkey trot. Can we shave off even more time before the next one?

It looked like rain all morning, but there was no precipitation to speak off until we were all safely back in our car - great timing.

Just an ordinary morning

Lukas spent a lot of time last week practicing for his recital and Noah had as his goal to complete his math book - both of these goals were accomplished. Lukas had his recital on Saturday and played well and Noah's book is in the 'to be burned' pile by the back door ready for our next back yard fire.

Saturday morning chat

If Noah had his way, he would build Lego all day long. He would build large intricate flying machines, expansive camps and forts, and amazing floating contraptions and small villages filled with bakers, butchers and customers.

He takes great delight in explaining each and every part of his contraptions to anyone who wants to listen. Bob and he spent a leisurely morning in the comfy chair and a half chatting about the pros and cons of his most recent design.

Science Friday - best part of school

Fridays are special school days for us. Noah has a music lesson which gets us off to a good start, and we then spend the rest of our school day doing science. Not reading text books, memorizing formulas, not filling in the blank work sheets or crunching numbers on a calculator, we really DO science.
Currently the topic of learning is energy - potential and kinetic to be exact.
We made simple pendulums and quickly moved up to multipart pendulums to learn about chaos and randomness - patterns that cannot be described by simple formulas.
The kids constructed a simple toy to see the impact on kinetic and potential energy - the can rolled one way would always return much like a boomerang. The trickiest part was to get our almost grown up hands inside the cans to attach the rubber bands. A young boy visiting later on found this simply toy most amusing.
Finally, we headed outside for some mess play. Dropping balls of various mass from the same distance into cornstarch to see what kind of pattern and how big of a splash each made. The giggles, the laughs, the white knees were all testaments to the fun, and there was still learning going on!

When Bob got home he was greeted by a fire hose of information about the science learning of the day, that is how Mamma knows there is some learning in the fun.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Piano recital

Lukas had his spring piano recital today! Enjoy this brief video of his performance.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Noah decided to join me as I ran errands the other day. He knew we were heading to the local crafts store, and there he had spotted gorgeous wooden ships that he longed for. Coming with me, meant he could check them out, see if the ships were on sale yet and once again look them all over carefully just in case he would decide to purchase one.

I needed glue and other more mundane items and walked through the store while Noah viewed the ships. As I walked by one display unit, he came around the corner, and now his attention was on the bin in front of us, artist canvases. He brought two and a set of oil paints. Back home, he set out to paint a flower from a napkin and later on he painted a lemon tree and a Birds of Paradise bush. He takes his inspiration from items around the house and he is careful, meticulous and intentional in both brush strokes, layout and color scheme. Enjoy his work!