Thursday, March 29, 2012

Polar Plunge

OK… 53F … windy… gathering storm… dark clouds… and the embassy is opening the pool for the season. This winter won’t give up! It was COLD out there.

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Ok mom… stop taking pictures and hand over the towels…





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As soon as they had jumped in, everybody had to get out because the storm came in, thunder and lightning and pouring rain.

Why go through all this?

Free Ice Cream!!! (coupon) and a rubber bracelet! :) What would you do for a klondike bar? (or just generic ice cream…)

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And for mom, hot mulled wine :)  Not only was the swimming rained out, the BBQ had to be moved inside too. That’s ok though, we went home and turned the radiators back on!


The kids’ school held a talent show again this year and Honor and some of her friends got together to do a little act. All of the kids in the show did a wonderful job! All proceeds were being collected to help pay for cancer treatment for a local girl. This show was actually a month delayed, as the snow we had earlier caused the school to be closed on the original show date, and I was worried Honor wouldn’t make this one as she been fighting congestion and a cough, but she wasn’t truly sick (ie. no fever or anything), and I think they did a wonderful job :)

3rd-4th grade YMCA’ers :)

Here’s our little Indian



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Brian’s Science Fair Project - 2012

Hydroponics Thyme! Brian volunteered for the science fair this year because he enjoys science so much and because he had fun with last year’s fair. His subject this year was about growing plants in different mediums. Jordan is a very dry country, and his idea for the project came from brainstorming ways to preserve water and yet grow crops and other plants. Irrigation can use up a lot of water resources. Of course, hydroponics takes water too, but maybe it might be more controlled. This led him to the question of how is growing plants in dirt, different from growing them in plain water (he used RO filtered so he’d have a constant variable) and from growing plants in fertilized water.


Well, we had some limitations. We were very limited on the seedlings available for experimenting on. We had no idea what their nutrient needs were. We do not have access to a big lawn and garden shop where we might have been able to get fertilizer specifically designed for aqua-culture. We also did not have the resources or time to build a real hydroponics set-up with pumps and filters! But, he decided that he could take a number of seedlings and grow them under the three different conditions, and track how well they did.


Brian picked out Thyme plants because the seedlings looked very healthy and we’re all about the same size (each pot had several seedlings). We removed them from the unknown dirt that they were grown in and carefully washed the roots. Three he potted three of them in basic potting soil, three in plain RO water, and three in RO water with a little water soluble house plant fertilizer (which seemed to fit all of the recommended nutrients needed for hydroponic planting, and was recommended on various websites).

Carefully removing the dirt and separating the seedlings was tough… it was hard packed, and it was a wet 40F outside when we were working on this!



Brian measuring the water and fertilizer.


The many uses of barred windows! This really made a great place for the experiment. The big sign on the window was to let the gardener know not to water these plants. The little tags on each plant was because Brian let his little sister name each plant!

DSC02285 Ninja supervised from inside.
DSC02282 To keep the seedlings from falling into the bottles, each was wrapped gently with cotton and tied with string.

Well, unfortunately, the fertilizer plants quickly died, probably burned up with too much fertilizer, which proved that you really need to know what you are doing to make this sort of growing system effective!! This was disappointing, but still, it taught a good lesson. The plants in the potting soil did very well. The plants in the plain water survived, but after a month or so, many leaves went very yellow and the plants are not as healthy as the ones that were able to gain nutrients from the dirt. These results were as expected. Later, when Brian read more about Thyme, he learned that they prefer poor soil and very little water, so I guess he was lucky to keep them going so well for so long!

After a month of growing, sand storms, snow, etc.


Potted plants are doing great.


Plain water plants are ‘ok’


(over-)Fertilized plants, um, not so ‘ok’.. oops!


Brian also researched some of the pros and cons about hydroponics and possible uses and benefits. He had results and reports to do online, and also had a (great!) e-mentor from a college in the US to coordinate his work with. He did a good job on his poster too!
End result is that he learned a lot and seemed to have a good time with the whole thing. No idea what the results of the judging is yet, that was done just yesterday, but that he enjoyed it, is good enough for me!

Friday, March 9, 2012


A stash-ghan is like an afghan, but it’s a project to use up all the little bits and balls of leftover yarns from previous projects. I have been playing with yarn for a long time, so found myself with a bag full of leftovers, much of it coordinating because I usually use a favorite color scheme – blues & greens especially - with everything I make anyway. I decided to make simple granny squares, and the size of the finished quilt would be based on however many squares I ended up with. Granny squares are made with the most basic of stitches, and I can make them while watching tv or reading news online. In no time at all, I’d used up my scraps of yarn, and had 144 5.5” squares to sew together.

This was a popular project right from the beginning, as the kids liked sorting the squares and picking their favorite color combos. Ninja really liked snuggling on it as I sewed the squares together! It was rather hard to move the project around on my lap with it pinned down like this…


But how could I kick her off?? Could you disturb this???


I finally got it sewn together and a border made. Finished it last night. Guess who got the first use of it? Yea… Ninja. I hadn’t even tied it off and she was cuddling in it.



I got up this morning and found the kids on the couch, sharing the blanket, a computer game, and even the same set of earbuds – one bud per kid – which is really sweet except that Brian is recovering from strep throat so I’m hoping he’s no longer contagious…


Soon… guess who joined the fun? Yea… Ninja :)


I hearby declare this a successful project!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Snowball Fight With Kitty

Honor and Ninja had a big snowball fight!


Ok, so it wasn’t a HUGE battle, but it was very cute. Honor says it was like magnetism… wherever there was a snowball, Ninja would follow it!

Snow Day – AGAIN!

So, although it started to rain a bit, rather than snow, yesterday afternoon which warmed things up a bit and thawed out some of our slush, it got cold again last night and has resumed the snow today. Actually, around 3am last night we had a wonderful thunderstorm too. This morning and afternoon there’s been hail and snow. We’re getting an amazing amount of moisture… and that’s always good for Jordan!

Last night, our back yard looked like this:


Full of water with ice floating. It is, no exaggerating, about 4” deep at the far end, if not more. A little more and we can stock this pond and go fishing!


This morning, it’s a bit deeper, but covered in white. This is even after we had rain to melt a bit of the layer on top!


Honor checks to see if we can ice skate yet… nope… not frozen, just really really cold!


Hey? Where’d she go??


I love how pretty the snow makes everything, and it’s really coming down today! We’re even having a bit of thunder-snow :)  and although this video shows a lot of snow coming down, we’ve actually had much heavier falls throughout the day. It’s nearly white out there right now as I write this.


DSC02442 DSC02443 DSC02453 Of course, snow must be played in!



Honor’s kitty.


Oh, and do you like our snow clothes?? Pj’s, robes and crocs! ;D Perfect for playing outside a bit, then coming back in to cuddle on the couch by the radiator and warm up (“George of the Jungle” is the video of the moment).



Of course, not everyone is enjoying this snowy fun. It makes Ninja very unhappy to have the kids on the WRONG side of the window.