Tuesday, September 30, 2008

it is possible that i smell bad

Ever smell something so putrid that the stench lingers in your nose -- and you can't tell if you have acquired the aroma? In science today, we extracted DNA from an onion. It's actually easy to do at home, but it involves onions (but you knew that), alcohol and Murphy's oil soap. Those are all pungent items, but mixed together, whoa Nelly. If the outcome had been less than spectacularly cool, it would not have been worth the trouble or the post-lab cleaning.


On a homeschool note, this is a continuation of our forensic science unit. We have been discussing DNA identification. To understand that, you really need a working knowledge of DNA, which is just fascinating, no matter how old you are. So far, the origami double helix and today's lab have been the biggest hits, but the whole thing is pretty neat. The world really underestimates 10-year-old kids, for sure. (Note to the first expert I heard explain DNA profiling in court, back in its infancy in 1991: You made it way too complicated, buddy.)

Eat your hearts out, Watson and Crick.

Going in the Etsy shop today:




Neither item has been anywhere near the DNA extraction, in case you were wondering.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

the down side to having a camera phone

... those photos get caught in the nether regions of the space-time continuum. I finally downloaded these after many weeks.

How long has it been? Well, I took this photo because the gas price was so high, I was sure the person who changed the numbers was on crack. Truly, there was no other logical explanation.


Those were the good old days of $3.25 gas.

I took this one...


... at the bookstore. It was a promotion for the X-Files movie (coming soon).

Here's my daughter -- holding the business end of a python. What? Doesn't everybody have a picture like this?


Unfortunately, there is no picture of the generously proportioned snake that slithered all over my arms as I showed him off to a bunch of wide-eyed kids. It happened. I have witnesses. And it was very, very cool.


Here is my youngest experiencing "the best five minutes of (his) life" as we stopped off at the Darlington Raceway on a road trip a couple of months ago. There was no race (obviously, since we stopped) and he didn't even care.

Here he is, documenting that asphalt oval he considers heaven on earth:


And finally, how many Cub Scouts does it take to change a tire?



The Craftsman badge turned into a testosterone fest.

i did taw a habitat


(Title courtesy of my brilliant and funny husband)

Nolan and I began work on our backyard habitat project today. He is conducting an inventory of the food, water, cover and places to raise young (per the National Wildlife Federation) and will soon begin devising an experiment that will involve birds. (No birds will be harmed in the making of this education.) He has to come up with a question to answer that can be studied and evaluated with controls, etc.

In addition to today's inventory, Nolan made some pinecone feeders and we added suet and fruit feeders to the yard. He had great fun building a toad shelter out of flagstone scraps.


I am enjoying the new flagstone patio built by handsome, creative husband (who is also brilliant and funny). That will be my habitat until the winter chill runs me indoors.


Monday, September 22, 2008

the post wherein i regain my lost noodle

Ooh, I have a blog. Who knew?

Things have been a bit busy -- work deadlines, school and a few other planned and unexpected things thrown in for good measure. We also have a wonderful October planned and, yikes, it's almost here.

On to the miscellany:


What kind of burrowing beetle do we have here? I emailed an expert for an opinion and she believes we have a wood-borer (family Cerambycidae).


Our kitchen science lab... because sometimes dinner is a science project, but today the science project is a science project.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

in the mail


Items winging their way to Morgan:

One bracelet made from vintage beads (and shown here on a math book, which says a lot about my life).

One batch of vintage sewing goodies, including a few patterns, notions, buttons and fabric.

Not in the mail:


This collage, which I really enjoyed making but turned out somewhat substandard, so I think I will keep it here and consider it a work in progress. I'm improving, I think. Paper and glue can do wonders for the soul.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

and people wonder why I homeschool...

Image:Wooden pencil sharpener.jpg

Too much from me in one day, I know, but geez Louise -- this story is too insane not to pass on. A 10-year-old, well behaved kid who is a good student and he is suspended for two days? I am much more afraid of the common sense vacuum than the pencil sharpener.


Guess what we're studying today. Fun stuff, I tell you. I feel like Jodie Foster.

lest we forget

MSNBC has an excellent remembrance of today's anniversary. The site notes that images may be disturbing to some viewers.

I should hope so.

Monday, September 8, 2008



Fall is here -- no, not the kind seen above. Calendar, schmalendar. It is now chilly in the early mornings and the leaves are starting to show flashes of color here and there. I love apples, pumpkins and fall leaves, but I always fight an undercurrent of impending dread because winter is soon to follow. I have a need at the cellular level for swampy air, humidity and winters that include snow for a half-day about every three or four years - a decidedly more tropical clime than the one in which I live.

I am on the hunt for a cotton fisherman's sweater. Yes, that would make winter more palatable. And I have a pile of felted wool ready to sew into a patchwork blanket. I am certain that will do the trick.

In the meantime, I am going to look for and post the beauty of fall. I will try to do 30 days (not consecutively and not starting today), completely stealing the idea from Soulemama.

Couple some fall beauty with a cup of apple cider, and all will be right with the world.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

and God said...


Happy Birthday to my husband. This picture was taken Friday as we got just a wisp of the outermost bands of Hurricane Hanna.

can it

And I mean that in the nicest way possible. (WNC Parent, p. 47.)

Friday, September 5, 2008


I probably shouldn't post the link to my new story on pediatric diabetes right above the chocolate cake post, but here you go.

i love him


And we express love through chocolate cake, right?

I am grateful to celebrate another year of the best husband and father ever. A thousand chocolate cakes wouldn't begin to cover it...

(The cake making inspired my contribution to the Your Message Here project: Lick the bowl.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

stomach bugs, spanish and thrift stores -- oh my

My son had a two-day stomach bug that left me exhausted for four days. (I just don't spring back like I used to.) He's fine. I'm feel like I am still getting caught up.

But on to better things... Our homeschool co-op started today. Big doings, I tell you. One of the many criticisms I hear of homeschooling is the lack of exposure to the arts. Well, tell that one to somebody else, will you? Our co-op has art (taught by a real artist, as opposed to moi -- I'm a crafter), music (history, theory, recorder and -- new this year-- guitar) and Spanish (taught by nuestros senora favorita, or something like that). Extended classes start in a few weeks with state history, international studies and a three-week crash course on the presidential election process (that one is taught by moi -- I'm a crafter and a lawyer).

I began the thrift store hunt for Halloween costumes this week. My daughter asked very specifically for a flapper-style fringe dress, which I couldn't possibly sew. I walked into Goodwill this morning and decided to look for something that might work. I couldn't believe that I found an actual flapper dress, complete with headband.

Earlier in the week, I found a ton of 100 percent linen for $2.50. Some of the linen will be used for Obe Wan's vest/wrap thingy. The rest is mine. I am on a quest for a brown wool blanket that can be felted and made into a cape for our Padawan learner. Lest you think I am going overboard with a linen and wool Obe Wan costume, I am not going to buy and learn to use a metal lathe so I can fashion an authentic looking lightsaber as suggested on one Star Wars costume site I found. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Pictures soon...