Jul 29, 2011

Can We Talk?

7/29/2011 — cori

It's a beautiful Friday evening. The whole family is outside on the back patio. Bennett and Chloe are playing catch. Chuck and I are reading. Gavin is walking aimlessly around the backyard talking to himself. When out of the blue he shows up in front of me and says, "Mom? Can we discuss antimatter right now?"

"Honey, I would love to, but can you do me a favor? Can you please tell me what antimatter is? And why would you think I could possibly have an intelligent conversation about something I know nothing about?"

"Well, Mom, it's the opposite of matter. I just want to know what happens when matter and antimatter touch."

"Um. Well...How can antimatter touch matter when it's ANTI-matter?? That's what I want to know Mr. King of the Obvious." I always find that I appear slightly more intelligent when I answer his questions with one of my own. "Better yet, let's go inside and google this right now and get to the bottom of this."

However, before heading in, Chuck asks Gavin, "Why would you want to know what happens?"

"Well, cuz if they make gamma-rays, then we could figure out a way to harness that and make weapons out of it."

Oh. Carry on....

Next, we find ourselves huddled over the computer reading Wikipedia and understanding every third word. But he must have understood more than I cuz when I asked him if it made sense he said, "Ya. See Mom, when real matter and antimatter touch or collide it causes the annihilation of both. And photons, otherwise known as gamma-rays, are released."

"Oh. And why do we care?"

"Well, it just got me thinking when we were reading our book today, A Wind in the Door by Madeline L'Engle. In it the author was talking about an explosion in space caused by matter and antimatter colliding and I was wondering if it was real and what that would look like."

"Oh. That's a good book, isn't it?!"


"Can we be done discussing this now?"

See what happens when you read to your children? I think I'll just stick with Dr. Seuss from now on. That, I can understand and explain.

Jul 22, 2011

In The Future We Are

7/22/2011 — cori
I felt like I was a Jedi Apprentice in training to use The Force while playing this "game" at a museum the kids and I just went to last week. Is this not one of the coolest things ever?! The goal was to mentally "push" this ball to your opponent's side. But the way to accomplish this was by mentally relaxing. Is it any surprise to anyone that I didn't win? Gavin won against each of us (we think the machine was rigged).

Next lesson in store for me: How to use a light saber. Proud, Yoda would be.

Jul 19, 2011


7/19/2011 — cori

This is our first summer in Minnesota. Being from Texas the majority of my life, I'm very used to 100 degree days for 3 months out of the year. I'm a summer kinda girl. I love it! I love the sun! So, you can imagine my joy when the mercury started reaching the 90's this past week - bonus!

Unfortunately for us, this little mid-west heatwave decided to fall upon us at the onset of our little co-ed soccer season Chuck and I are playing. Sunday morning it was 95 degrees with a heat index of 104. The dewpoint was at 81%. That's some serious humidity. Although I'm used to heat, it's the humidity I don't have much experience with. It felt like a wet, heavy blanket draping over us the entire game. You can't breathe in enough oxygen to satisfy your need for air. As you can imagine, our game didn't go so well. But at least I didn't pass out or throw-up on the field. I accomplished my goals of not completely humiliating myself.

When we got home that afternoon, our fire alarms started going off in the house. That was odd because there was no fire. I even ran out to the street to get a good look at the roof and thankfully, no smoke was rising, so we were good. However, the sound wouldn't stop! This really made the kids super nervous - especially for Ninja. They kept saying, "What about Ninja's ears?" and all huddling around me while I was running around the house looking up at all the fire alarms, confirming that indeed all 20 of them were going off simultaneously.

During this little escapade, Chuck was safe in the shower...until we all descend upon him yelling at the top of our lungs, "FIRE ALARM!" Amazingly, he couldn't hear it in the shower. So, he runs out with a towel around his dripping wet self and stares at the same main alarm in our kitchen area. It is at least 15 feet high on the ceiling/roof. What he plans on doing is beyond me. He deems that the battery must be low and announces for all to hear, "Don't worry, it's just a low battery. It will stop soon." This is his overly optimistic self in full force. So what do we do? We all just continue on as if this incessant beeping is normal, while covering Ninja's sensitive ears. Thankfully, it only continued for about 5 minutes.

Fast forward to today. This is the 4th day of the heat wave. You take one step outside and your shirt, skin and hair are already dripping wet. Your glasses fog up instantly. All the windows in your house are foggy - it's like you live in an aquarium. You have to rub all the moisture off the windows in order to look outside. I was actually outside cleaning these same windows when all of the sudden, Chloe and Bennett come running outside, clearly worried, "Mom. Come quick. The fire alarms are going off again!"

Great!! What am I supposed to do?! The sound assaults me as soon as I step in. The chorus is loud and long. It's VERY hard for me to think under pressure. I'm suddenly whisked back in time to another fire alarm incident and start to panic. Quick. Think Cori. You're the only adult here! Hmmm. Okay, first things first...I ask Bennett to come out to the garage with me and help me haul in the 8 foot ladder. I send Chloe for the broom. The plan is to put it under the alarm and climb up as high as I dare and poke the alarm with the bottom of the broom. Maybe I can stop the noise that way. Why/How? I have no clue...but it seems like a productive thing to be doing.

Bennett is bravely holding the ladder in place as I make my ascent, broom in hand. I am 2 steps from the top and my feet have firmly planted themselves on this level and will go no farther. Next, I initiate the poking of the alarm. Much to my surprise it makes the noise stop for 1 second and then make a succession of beeps even louder than the original sound I was trying to eliminate. Great.

I've never been good at thinking on my feet, but while I'm up this high, I decide to try to read the fire alarm. The words are written in a circle all around it in the smallest font you've ever seen and in the same color as the alarm. It is impossible! Especially since I'm still a good 3 feet below it. There's no way I can reach high enough to touch it. Plus, we all remember my fear of height issues. I might spontaneously fall off this ladder at any moment...I need to hurry!
In a nutshell (at least from what I could decipher), the alarm says that it won't make any noise if the battery is low. Great. That means Chuck's earlier assessment is completely wrong and we do indeed have problem.

Plan B - call Chuck. He tells me he doesn't know what I should do. Great. I ask him if maybe this warrants a call to the fire department. If for no other reason, they would be able to actually reach the alarm in order to turn it off. He agrees.

I go look for the number to call in the city directory. Mind you, the fire alarm beeps are continual, loud, incessant, high-pitched and still going on. I call both of the numbers listed. One just rings and rings and no one answers. The second number sends me to voice mail. You have got to be kidding me. This is not an emergency in the truest sense of the word, but I have no other choice than to call the emergency number. Great.

So, here I go dialing 911 and feeling like a heel. I hope I'm not taking man power away from a true emergency. As soon as someone answers, I apologize and explain the situation. She's not surprised in the least. She told me, "We have gotten a ton of calls all weekend for the same thing. The heat and humidity are so high, it's setting off all the fire alarms." NO WAY! Never in my life have I heard of such a thing. This is beyond bizarre. She tells me, "I'll see if I can find someone to send over to help you and take a look at it. In the mean time, crank your a/c as low as you can to cool down the roof."

Thankfully, she found a fireman who wasn't in his fire truck, just an SUV to send over. He was accompanied with a policeman in a squad car - all for my stupid fire alarm that won't go off. But wouldn't you know, in the amount of time it took for me to lower my a/c and for the fireman to get here, the beeping stopped all on it's own (15-20 minutes). Now I look like a sick kid who goes to the doctor who doesn't look or act sick anymore. He comes in and repeats 911 lady's story about this happening all over town. He told me that the alarms that are attached to the ceilings that are directly under the roof tiles that don't have any insulation around them are picking up too much heat. Our particular one is on the west facing side of the house. He actually told me to unscrew it from the ceiling until the heat wave passes. That would be nice - if I could reach it.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be calling 911 because it was too hot. Welcome to Minnesota.

Jul 14, 2011

The Road Trip

7/14/2011 — cori
It appears that our new past time is to drive across the United States. Last year we drove to California (22 hours), this year we drove to Minnesota (15 hours) and our last conquest has been our most recent drive to the East coast, Virginia specifically (20 hours). We must love our car. And we do...but there's something so alluring and fun about being stuck in a car with your favorite people for long periods of time. We totally enjoyed just talking, playing car games, reading, listening to books on tape, listening to cds, watching the changing scenery and taking in the country-side around us. How can that not be fun? Well, I can think of a way...if any or all of your kids are under the age of 3, then I don't recommend it. That is one of the advantages of having your kids get older. That...and they can do more chores. But then they also eat more and need more stuff. But you also get into some awesome conversations and don't have to pick up paci's every 2 minutes. But you might still smell interesting odors in the car, especially if you have boys.

But I digress....So, The Road Trip started at 3:30 in the morning. Crazy, huh?! Actually, it was supposed to start at 3:30, that's when our alarms were all set to go off so we could leave at 4 am to get a head start on our 12 1/2 hour driving day. But Gavin, Mr. Sleep's The Day Away any other normal day, decides that he is going to set 4 of his alarms (he was afraid he wouldn't hear just one) for 3:15am. He comes running up stairs turning on lights and yelling, "Time to get up. Time go on our trip!" Excited is an understatement. Thanks to him we were out of here on time.

What would be a road trip without some beautiful sunrise pictures? I will not disappoint. We were in Wisconsin by time the sun came up the first day. The second day, we were in Ohio.

We were lucky enough to get to visit both sets of Grandparents on his trip. Our first stop was in Ohio to see Nana. We spent the day out and about their small town. We enjoyed walking around the old downtown square, admiring the late 1890's architecture.

We also had fun at one of our favorite parks, Tawawa Park. We love to play. Playgrounds are a must! We find them every where we go.

Chuck and his Mom

We leave bright and early the next day (early enough to get another sunrise picture) and make our way across the Appalachian Mountains to Virginia. Boy am I glad I wasn't a settler. I wouldn't have made it very far. One look at those mountains and I would have preferred to stay put. They're big. And the road is very curvy. And scary. But that's just me. Thankfully, Chuck was driving through most of the mountainous regions.

After greeting my parents and moving the entire contents of our car into their house we ate and then proceeded to light sparklers (outside, that is). I was shocked! Never in my life have my parents allowed us as kids to play with or even entertain the idea of playing with fireworks. Look what happens once you have grandkids! They threw caution to the wind and we had fun with sparklers. Actually, they did. Among many of my oddities, we can add fear of fire to the growing list. I heeded my parents warnings in my childhood years to stay away from fire. Thus, there was no need for me to hold a metal stick with fire blazing at the end of it. But if my offspring thought this was a fun idea, who was I to limit their fun?

The one thing I love about my parents (there are numerous things, but this sticks out) is that they LOVE to play. I love that. I love that age isn't a factor. Having fun together is the most important thing. And having fun involves playing. We weren't there 15 minutes before Dad drags out the bean bag toss game.

We hit at least two playgrounds.

We played Frisbee.

We played a board game called Spy Ally (very apropos).

We played in the pool and we played tennis. It's a little humiliating for two thirty-somethings to get beat in tennis by two sixty-somethings. But they have played tennis many more years and at a competitive level and are awesome. So, it was a fun match whenever Chuck wasn't trying to hit a homerun and I wasn't trying to duck out of the way of the ball (because that's something else I'm scared of, balls coming at me at a high rate of speed).

Virginia and neighboring D.C are full of beauty and history. It's always a fun place to go. We went to the Great Falls on the Potomac River. There we enjoyed the hot and humid day with a picnic and walking some trails.

We saw an old Civil War battlefield/national cemetery called Ball's Bluff.
The South won this battle.

We visited the amazing National Holocaust Museum, a favorite of mine.

We also enjoyed seeing a monument we hadn't ever seen before:
the F.D.R Memorial.

Can you get a more picturesque photo while in D.C? I think not?

We also went to an amazing place in the countryside called The Great Meadow (I know, it sounds like something out of Narnia) where we celebrated the 4th of July. We also got to watch a polo game. Pure beauty - it truly was a great meadow.

Surprisingly, nothing crazy happened to us. I know that's hard to believe given our track record, but we were pretty normal this time around. Unless you want to count the time we stopped in downtown Chicago to eat lunch where the mob lives. We were literally watched by a man at the door the entire time we were eating. I guess that's what happens when you want to go to an 'authentic Italian deli' in Chicago. And then there was the time we had to stop on the southside of Chicago to buy me some sinus pills. I have never been so scared while inside a Walgreens with bars on the window. But the mission was accomplished and my headache relieved. So, it was still a success.

HGTV Inspired

7/14/2011 — cori

Not even 5 minutes after watching House Hunters with me, Chloe has a new "game" idea.

Chloe: "Mom, would you like to play HGTV with me?"

Me: "How do you play HGTV Honey?"

Chloe: "Well, I want to play House Hunters. You be the one looking for the house and I'll be the realtor because I have the right stuff to be a realtor."

Me: "Oh really? What's that?"

Chloe: "I have a notebook and a checkbook."

Me: "Hmmm. What's a checkbook?"

Chloe: "I don't know, I just made that up. But I've got what it takes to be a realtor and I think it will be fun."

Me: "You're on!"

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