Tuesday, September 25, 2012

No green thumb

I do not have a green thumb, as a matter of fact, I typically kill any living plant left in my care. So despite myself, we have gorgeous, sweet scented roses in our back yard. All the green is punctuated by the deep yellows and reds reaching toward the blue sky -it does not feel like fall here...

Fire Pit

Lukas and Noah enjoy creating things, building things and they really like fire.  They like to sit by the fire, but even more so they like to do black smiting by the fire. On Sunday, Bob kindly and generously gave his time to yet another yard project - a more permanent fire pit.
The boys gathered up the rocks, laid out the pattern and then mixed up the concrete to pour between the rocks to make the structure permanent. Since this fire pit will primarily be used for black smiting there are even some customized insert to allow for easy access to the hot coals via strategically placed openings in the fire pit rim.

The inaugural fire came a few short hours after the last bit of concrete was poured ... Bob and I sat back enjoying the fire listening to the rhythmic pounding of hammers against hot iron - not the typical sounds heard around a fire, but the sound of joy for our boys. 

It is working!

There is growing going on the raised garden beds! In addition to the seeds that Noah and Lukas planted there are some things growing that at the moment are unidentified. Since Bob fertilized the beds with our compost, the boys are hoping for strawberries... Patience is all that is needed to find the answer to this riddle....

Monday, September 24, 2012

Family time

Saturday morning we set out for a family hike in beautiful Big Sur. Armed with the GPS and a map, we headed south on Highway 1. The weather was fantastic, the views great, and the water fall was still flowing fast enough to be heard in the distance.
The drive home was just as breathtaking as the fog had lifted over Big Sur while still hugging the curves of Carmel and Pebble Beach.

A spectacular way to start off the weekend.


Lukas and Noah are practicing a duet - such sweet music to a Mamma's ears. This is a piece they picked, not either of their teachers, and they barely require a reminder to practice. Each day they sound more and more in tune and unison.


We hosted a baby shower at our home on Sunday. I say we, although the boys were not invited to partake in the festivities, as they diligently assisted in all the preparations.

Noah and Bob took charge of the Lemon Square Platter, and Noah exhibited great patience and care in choosing just the right piece to place in just the right spot on the platter. The piece de resistance, a fresh lemon from our tree complete with carefully cleaned and polished leaf.

Saving money?

AA batteries in on our standard weekly grocery list, much like milk and fruit, for our countless gadgets requiring battery power. So the question for science this week was: Can we make our own batteries? Are nickles better than quarters, does more coins equal greater power, does water work as well as vinegar?

Armed with lose changes, various liquids and potentiometer, Lukas and Noah set out to create some power. There was a moment, when in their minds, this seemed to be the perfect solution to the 'we are out of AA battery' mantra, only to realize that it does take a bit more than a few coins to make a stable, long running battery.

However, they had fun,  and the learning is lasting - good batteries are worth the cost.

We are off to get more Duracells!

Edible science

It is Friday so it must be science day. This week our main subject of exploration was gummy bears. What is the melting point of gummy bears? What happens to a gummy bear in the micro wave? And we also explored the concept of osmosis by suspending gummy bears in various liquid and recording over time what happened.
However, no good scientist would simply take things for granted, so our first experiment was determining if there is a difference in taste between a red, yellow, green and orange gummy bear.  Once this critical inquiry had been resolved, it was on to microwaving, oven baking and submerging.


Noah and Lukas both would tell you their absolute favorite thing to do is spending time with their Dad. Noah's main interests surrounds creating and designing things - and he has several model airplanes that he and Bob have been working on piece by piece.  This is how they spent some quality time together....

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Snow cones and fire

Lukas, Noah and Bob helped set up and get the Snow Cone machine going at the annual church picnic. The middle schoolers were in charge of serving, but someone had to get the machine going, haul the ice and set up the area. Bob and the boys learned together how to operate, one for all three of them, new machine.  A lot of ingenuity, perseverance and problem solving finally yielded sticky, cold, and popular snow cones.

One other area that Noah and Lukas quickly volunteered to assist in was getting the charcoal fire started. Along with several other boys they went through a few boxes of matches before the fire finally took hold and began to burn.
Picnic set up can be a lot of fun....

Armed bike

Yesterday, the boys spent the morning garage sale-ing, perusing various collections of 'this and thats' in the quest for the perfect bargain. Their pursuit was rewarded with several great finds - among others guns of all sorts.

This afternoon, the boys in the neighborhood engaged in some old fashion  shoot outs. When the imaginary horses did not suffice, their trusted bikes were commandeered into action. Wanting to shot larger weapons, Lukas and Noah turned my bike trailer into a arms wagon, and to keep weight low, installed wiring so that Noah can shot and ride at the same time.

green arrow points to button to release bullets

Only Mamma is a bit worried about his riding and shooting in the same direction.. he better make sure the guns are pointed straight ahead and not the least bit angled which would make the shooter his very own easy target.

A useful skill?

I do not iron as many things as I used to, nor do I iron as much as my sister and Mom, however I still do iron pants and shirts as well as table clothes. Even the so called 'no wrinkle' shirts look better after an encounter with a hot iron.
The boys are very helpful in doing laundry but so far they have not shared the ironing. Noah watched me for a bit as I was ironing the table cloth, and then offered to help. He was convinced it was an easy, quick task but was willing to listen to coaching and instruction - only to realize that it takes time to iron. He humble acknowledge the work involved each time there is a spill on the table clothe and gave me a quick hug before he bailed on the ironing task in search for more gratifying and interesting tasks such as Lego construction.
He may grow up with little need for ironing, but whenever the need arise he will be equipped even if it is for something as trivial as a table cloth.

Box or content?

When the boys where younger, I remember that they frequently had as much fun with the box as with the content, and it still continues. It is a rare day that they do not find a new use for something that was destined for the trash bin had it not been rescued by creative and eager hands.

This week Noah received a new computer. His old one simply gave up, there was no easy fix, and any possible fix had a low likelihood of resolving the trouble. Noah tracked the package more carefully and more frequently than any child track Santa's travel  on Christmas Eve, daily and sometimes hourly he would log on to UPS to see where the desired package was. It finally arrived and he quickly set out to get his PC up and running. On and off there were things that had to run on the computer to get it operational and the boys wasted no time but dove head first into the box and the many fun odd shaped packing materials that comes with a computer.  My shutter finger was not fast enough to capture it all, but they had so much fun that the new computer had to sit and patiently blink for a bit before it was given its due respect again.

Needless to say, this was a super fun and exciting afternoon in the Severinghaus household.

Lemons, lemons, lemons

Noah wanted a fruit tree when we moved to Monterey. We shopped around at several nurseries only to get the same answer - any fruit tree will take years to bear fruit.. Well, we did not have years in Monterey.

As we canvassed the back yard, pulled up weeds, cut away dead branches and cleared out old dry twigs, we realized that one of our trees is a lemon tree. Despite discouraging remarks, and my seriously brown thumb, this tree has born and is still bearing us more fruit than we can handle - we have a continual supply of fresh lemons - it bears fruit year around.

We have made lovely tart lemonade, lemon meringue pie, lemon squares, lemon chicken, lemon in water, more lemonade and it is not unusual for lemons to be our table decoration in vases or in bowls.

What a blessing to find that we do indeed have a fruit tree and one that is already bearing fruit.

One small bargain leads to lots of work

For a while, we have been talking about ways to enhance the lower back yard area and try to beat the moles at their own game - digging tunnels that causes even the most adventurous walker to stumble and trip as the ground disappears under the foot.

Late night scanning of bargain sites yielded a raised flower bed kit and became the impetus for fixing up the back yard. The boys could hardly wait for Bob to arrive back home from Detroit before they wanted to build the box. Little did they, nor I, realize how much work was involved BEFORE the box could be placed - so this great bargain turned into long hours of hard work, dust, sweat and grit and a few trips to Home Depot. Welcome back, Bob!


Noah really enjoys geography and is a wiz when it comes to pointing out and naming countries of the world. He finds anything geography related interesting. For our community group, Classical Conversation, the children are encouraged to trace the various continents and countries with the goal of being able to draw the entire world free hand. Noah is well underway to reach this seemingly impossible goal - he traces with exact precision on the windows to get all the curves and bends 'just right'
As he progresses, he will do less tracing and more free hand draw, the muscle memory mastery helping him produce a good map. Stay tune!

Glimpses of learning

Homeschooling is really a misnormer, we don't do school and then not, we learn all day. So when the books are hastily tucked back in the cabinet and the kitchen counter cleared of any lunch evidence I often find the boys exploring and learning in the innovative ways.
Old clothes, pillows, a bag of zip ties, Mindstorm, and a Rubber band gun along with lots of creativity lead to DLF - dear large friend - who attacked Bob with rubber bands when he walked through the door. The DLF had a voice activated computer inside his bulky chest and Bob's "Hi I am home" is all it took to trigger the barrage of rubber bands.
The DLF is now hanging out under Lukas' bed and I have stopped short in the track many a times this week, thinking it is one of our precious boys who is hiding out, only to once again realize that it is only DLF.

Our house is just the right size for four people, so Bob is suggesting that DLF finds a new home in the next few days... I am guessing he too was fooled one too many times by the large body hunched over seemingly hiding out while there are chores to be done.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Unwelcome guests

While we were gone having fun with family, our house was evicted of unwelcome guests.  An inspection had uncovered some potential evidence of guests that were NOT invited NOR welcome in our house.
These guests were allured into the big circus tent only to meet their sudden and unexpected fate - eviction!