It’s a Technicolor World, so enjoy it!

We got a big box of surprises in the mail today from Steve Spangler Science. The kids were eager to jump right in to playing with their new baby soda bottles and test tube racks. We decided to work with two projects today. The first, and the one that kept them occupied for the longest time, was a good old color-mixing experiment.

The kids started off with empty test tubes, a large beaker flask of water, a pipette, and three fizzy color tabs. They turned the fizzy tabs and water into three tubes of liquid- red, yellow, blue. Then they used those colors and their pipettes to experiment with secondary color combinations in the empty tubes.

After the color experiment, we used some Magic Sand to study the concepts of hydrophilia and hydrophobia.

I think we’re going to love our newly restructured screen-porch Science Lab!

We’ve already started making another order at Steve Spangler. We’re a little obsessed with their Test Tube Experiment Kits. They’re incredibly kid-friendly. Simple enough that the kids can go it alone with minimal adult supervision.

Keeping a running record…

I borrowed the idea of keeping a running record of our day from Alexa. This is my first attempt at charting the flow of an entire day and then blogging the result. Our lives are a bit more busy and productive than I usually imagine them to be, and it’s helpful to be able to look back and actually see the shape of our day from the notes I took.

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Muffin Tin Monday- Christmas Stories

I’ve tried for quite a while now to get my kids interested in participating in Muffin Tin Mondays, but they’re resistant to any sort of scheduled “fun”, unless we’re sharing that fun with our friends.  Today’s Muffin Tin Monday topic happened to fit into our schedule anyway, so I let them have their lunch of choice and had Muffin Tin Monday dinner ready before they could begin to complain.

My favorite Christmas book in recent years has been -Amazing Peace- by Maya Angelou.   We have a wonderfully illustrated version of this book that was gifted to me by my mother a few weeks before she passed away, which adds a special bit of sentimentality to my love of the poem.

Amazing Peace

For our interpretation of Muffin Tin Monday based on Amazing Peace, we filled our Christmas shapes with foods representing the letters P.E.A.C. and E. The girls had Pizza Bagel/Pretzels, Easy Cheese, Apples, Caesar Salad, and Extra gum for post-dinner chewing. Nate had Pizza Bagel/Pretzels, Easy Cheese, Apples, Crackers, and Extra Strawberry Banana gum in his tin.
Peace on Earth
Tonight, before bed, we read through the story again and discussed how this story relates to our lives. We’re Baptist and Buddhist, believers and non-believers, and we are a family who strongly believe in making a conscious effort to find peace, grow peace, and be at peace with ourselves and within our greater world.

Nate asked me to post the poem with this blog so that others could read it, too, and find peace.

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Breaking in the Dining Room Table

I had such high hopes of being able to blog almost daily now that we’re in the big town, but I was thwarted by a week full of sick kids, a sick husband, and some pretty nasty headaches and fevers of my own.

Thankfully, the worst seems to be over and we ended our first week in White Plains with a visit from some hometown friends.  J. and R. (Emily suggested that I blog-name them Rock Star and Cat Woman-henceforth, it shall be so) were in the area visiting family and friends and tying up some post-wedding details.  We convinced them to drive in to see our new “deluxe apartment in the skkkkyyyyyyy”.

The kids attacked them before they could even get into the building.  By the time we’d made it upstairs, the gender split had been made and CatWoman was wrapped up in cat fur and little girls. 

CatWoman and Wee Girlies

Dave and Mr. Rock Star immediately sank into fantasy-gaming land, and we lost them for quite a while. Since they were well occupied, CatWoman (I crack up and think of black latex every time I type this, by the way) and I walked the kids down to B&N and were pleasantly surprised when an employee told us there was something special to see in the back of the store and lead us directly to ….this guy….

Hatted Cat

The kids rounded up armloads of new reading material (Teacher Appreciation Week- 25% off nearly everthing) and we ventured back up to the 32nd floor. After depositing the kids with the guys (who were still chatting D&D) and making plans to break out Colosseum, we adult ladies made a snack run to Target and left the boys to set up the boardgame.

A very tense and boat-less game of Colosseum later, Dave was declared winner, with the other three of us very closely positioned quite a few steps behind him on the score track.


After the game, R. and J. had to head back to dinner with R.’s family, and I ran out to pick up dinner for the 5 starving Chens. There were baths, late night stories, and a very early bedtime for the kids. Overall, it was a wonderful Sunday.

Big City Lives (Part 2)

We’ve been in our new home for nearly 3 days, so it was time to follow our homeschooling urges and search out the nearest Library facility.  White Plains has a wonderful children’s library called The Trove, and we were thrilled to arrive and get our new library cards.  The kid’s card are actually imprinted with The Trove logo, to keep them from getting mixed up with adult cards.
The Trove-White Plains Library

Each of the kids quickly found their comfy place and made themselves at home.
Nate at the computer station

Emily reading under a tree

Anna climbing the mast

We checked out some great things, then we had to head off to take Nate to the doctor.  He had a traumatic appointment (throat swabs and bloodwork).  Then we headed home for dinner, baths, reading and playing with our library haul, and an early bedtime.  It was a busy and fun day. 

Our Big City Lives (Part 1)

Our neighbors from the ground up

Today was our first full day as city dwellers.  I woke up very early (before 6) because Nate was running a very high fever, so I ran out to Walmart in the wee dark hours to grab some more Tylenol and Motrin so I could alternate them throughout the day. It was peaceful, quiet, and calm outside our building and I enjoyed the few fleeting moments of stillness before the city woke up and started moving.

Emily took some photos of the view from her room today.  It’s tall, busy, and we’re still amazed by the crazy things on TOP of some of these buildings.  You know, swimming pools, helicopter landing pads, tennis courts, and fully astroturfed yards with swingsets and kids bicycles.  We’re among the tallest buildings in the city, so we look down on many interesting places.
View from Emily's bedroom

By 9am, I was realizing how very out of our depth we are in our new surroundings.  There was something surreal about watching our neighbors load into their limousines with their fancy drivers (I have driver envy, it’s something I NEED) to head off for whatever their day held in store.  I actually held a very nice conversation in the elevator with a lady who was taking her 13 year old dog downstairs to meet his “nanny” before she hopped in her chauffered car to Manhattan.  The nanny would then be responsible for walking the dog, letting it potty, then entertaining (her word, not mine) the sweet puppy for the rest of the day. 

So, yeah, a different world here.  Before lunch, the whole family went down for some time in the pool and hot tub.  The two smaller kids did all of their swimming in the hot tub because it was more shallow and the floatation belts I ordered have not yet arrived at the building. 

I made 9 trips out today to Target, Walmart and B&N.  We ate leftover pasta and meatballs for lunch. 

Then, the city decided that our arrival was so wonderful that they would through us a parade to celebrate.  And, what the heck, since they were celebrating our move they might as well do a little recognition of Columbus, the Italian-American culture and Moose(Meese?) Lodges.

Chris and friends


After the parade, there were long naps and more shopping. Some television watching and recovering from illness were also on the agenda. Tonight everyone went to bed early to recover from the busy month past, and to anticipate the exciting week ahead.

I’m fairly certain this is going to be a roller-coaster ride of crazy for the next 6 months.

Boys and their crazy toys…

When Nate got up at 6am to accompany Dave and me over to the Kinnally homestead, he never imagined that he would find himself playing fireman for the morning, complete with high-pressure hose and whirring sirens.

Fire Truck

The Papa Kinnally (named thus by Anna, never just Papa Kinnally…always THE Papa Kinnally) is a volunteer fireman in his town, and does a weekly drive and test of the equipment. While the boys were busy building a bonfire, putting the pig on it’s pit, and messing about in the yard, the Papa Kinnally decided to drive the grass truck down to the farm for some showing off.

Nate smiling in the grass truck

Nate took a spin around the farm. This included some fun off-roading through the woods with the lights and siren roaring. His smile got bigger every minute that he spent in the truck. By the time that the truck stopped, he was bouncing in the seat and giggling wildly. When the door opened, he jumped out and did his Snoopy Dance of Extreme Joy.

Nate's Snoopy Dance

Uncle Ryan helped him wait for the hose to fill….Ryan and Nate

And then…BAMMMM….there was water! Nate and Dave with the firehose

The boys had a great time testing their shiny, big toys. Nate explored the truck, played with the fire brooms, and then got to put out an actual fire.

You know it’s going to be an interesting weekend when you here, “This is the best day of my LIFE!” before 8am on Saturday morning.

Best Foot Forward…

The wonderful folks over at My Family Loves It are running a contest for a pair of See Kai Run shoes. Of course ~I~ am going to win the contest (wink), but all of the rest of you should feel free to hop over to their blog and check out sweet baby girl Jamie in her gorgeous Lola style See Kai Run shoes. Oh, and you can enter the contest too, just don’t take it too hard when Anna walks away in her new cute sandals…..

That whole thing would sound much more plausible if I had a bit of PisecoBabe’s contest luck.


Super Duper Rochester Fun…

We went up to Rochester this weekend to visit the GrandChens and do some museum time with Aunt Judy

Our family loves the Strong Museum of Play, and we always try to make at least one trip during each quarter to see the newest traveling exhibit. This quarter’s travel exhibit was a visit to Birdwell Island to see Clifford, Emily Elizabeth and the gang. We also got to see the butterflies, play in the new Berenstein Bears land and make a trip through our old favorite places.

Nate got to feed his love of all things dental in the Berenstein’s dentist office.

Nate Playing Dentist

Dave, Judy, and the girls had a wonderful time being butterfly landing pads.

Anna and Butterfly

Dave and Emily with Butterflies

Judy with butterfly on purse

While we were on Birdwell Island, Nate got caught in Clifford’s food bowl. It was a close call, but he didn’t get eaten!

Nate and the Bones

Overall, we had a great trip and can’t wait to get back.

These kids are not afraid of heights.

Dave finally got our new climbing wall finished. Actually, he’d had the wall built for quite a while, but we finally got the grips in the mail and he put them up last night while the kids and I were out for ice cream and park time with our Chesso friends.

Of course, the girls had to climb today even in the slippery and cold rain. They’re natural-born monkeys, and I had to bite my tongue to keep from squealing when they turned to wave from half way up the wall, leaving them hanging one-handed while they waved their arms.

I convinced them to come back inside because my camera was getting damp, but they had to finish one last climb before we left the rain behind.

I’m so proud of my crazy monkeys, and we’re all proud of Daddy for building them the awesome climbing wall.