Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Science at the Franklin Institute

We had so much fun yesterday!
We went up to Philadelphia for a day at the Franklin Institute. We had been planning it for Friday, but the weather was ugly, so we rescheduled for yesterday.

OK, getting there could have been easier. We got a later start than I wanted, because we had a few errands to do in town before we could leave. Our tickets were for 11:30 and it takes an hour to get there, allowing for traffic and getting lost, make it an hour and a half!

Now, I have been up there numerous times, and I have driven straight into the parking lot at least twice. Those were the times I used Google maps, or followed a friend. The other times I have gotten totally messed up, and those were the times that I used the directions on the website. Yesterday was one of those.
The boys were so excited about the Star Wars exhibit and we had a certain time that we had to be there. We had very little time built in to the schedule and only just enough gas!

This is really not like me.

The first mistake I made was to get in the wrong lane as we were getting off I95. We ended up downtown. So I asked a couple of nice guys at a hotel where I was and how to get where I needed to be. They gave me some vague idea of the direction I needed to go.
So I got on the right track and then I called the Institute to see what would happen if we were late. The girl I talked to told me we were fine and then she helped me get to the street I needed and just as I got to the right place to turn...I passed it. I stopped but there was a guy behind me and I couldn't back up.
Now, you don't go around the block in most big cities, because most big cities have one way streets running parallel to each other. I know this. So I drove the two blocks to get back to where I needed to be, couldn't get into the turn lane, and was forced to turn back onto the "Ben Franklin" parkway. I could see the building, seven lanes away, and it was impossible to get back to it.
When I got to the street I needed to turn left onto, of course there was a sign that said "No turns". I was tempted, but looking at the geometry of that intersection I could see exactly where I would get plowed into if I attempted it. The guys who plan the streets usually get input from the guys who drive the ambulances.
So we kept going until we could find a street that we could turn left on. There were none.
The next change of direction that I could see was going the wrong way! Wait, is that a traffic circle? Oh, Praise the Lord!
Now, mind you, I did not use any foul language during this extremely stressful event. I am still amazed by that. I did reiterate my exceeding stupidity. Several times. Later Brendan had to revisit my comments and inform me that he doesn't think I'm a stupid mom. In fact he thinks I am pretty smart.
So anyway, we got back into the vicinity of the building and we had eight minutes to get there and park. I was going the right direction, but I missed the little, tiny street that you have to take to be allowed to turn onto the street where the parking garage is. The lane I was in had a little sign stating, you guessed it, "no turns". I turned. And we pulled into the parking garage at exactly 11:25. No gas but we were there.
We found a perfect parking place, just next to the elevator.
The parking for this place is so great. The garage is directly below the building and if you have your ticket validated, it is only 4.00 an hour! It doesn't matter what the weather is like, you can come and go to your car, leave your coats and food there and you don't have to worry about the walk when you are done.
So we went in, got our tickets to the exhibit and went upstairs to see all the Star Wars stuff.
Can you see Paul in this picture? Hint: look at R2D2's head....

Paul got to see some of his favorite characters.
I was really impressed! There was so much there from all the movies. And along with the movie props and models they had current science, showing things that we use that are like the things that were in the movies.
John rode a Hovercraft. Sort of like Luke's Speeder....

Brendan just cracked up at this exhibit where you could make the expressions on the face change.
This is Luke's artificial hand from "Star Wars",
And this is the latest in medical technology as we know it.
After we saw all of that, we went into the rest of the museum so that the boys could enjoy all their favorite exhibits. They love the giant Heart! They just love running through and pretending to be "blood cells"!

Here's Brendan with Ben's Bifocals!

Here's John with a 5.5 billion year old meteorite!

After we had seen everything, some of it twice, I told the boys that I wanted to get on the road because we still needed gas and I was concerned about traffic. It was 4:00.
I asked one of the information people about the nearest gas station. He gave me some cryptic directions, so I asked another guy to be sure that it was really there!
We drove around a bit looking for the right streets, through China town, and then finally discovered the street we needed to be on to get to the street that we needed to get on to get to the street that the gas station was on.
When we got to the gas station I wanted to ask someone about how to get to 95. The guy pumping gas ahead of me looked nice and John pointed out that he had a Rosary hanging over the dash. Yes, an angel. He is in my prayers!
He gave us perfect, simple directions to the interstate. Getting home was considerably simpler.

I really want a phone with GPS when I upgrade. It just got a lot more important. If I had had the laptop I could have found a wireless signal and googled myself out of trouble!
Anyway, we will go back. The place is just to much fun not to. Soon probably!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Power and the Glory Forever...

I was sitting at Mass this morning and Father was talking about Jesus and the woman at the well.
And he talked about how Christ was the one who had come to change the world, and the way everyone was looking for the Messiah. That He is for everyone, and that when He came it was for all people.

As Mass went on, I was praying before Communion, and the image of "Christ in Majesty" came into my mind. I'm not sure why I thought of it, but I just love this image of Christ. He is there, in all his power. He still bears the wounds, showing His love for us, but His face is so glorious. There is so much of the King of the Universe. How this King can be so awesome and mighty, and yet have allowed Himself to be tortured and killed as the Lamb of God... The paradox brings me to tears.
That Christ is for all time and all of us. That His power and glory rule the Cosmos yet his gentle voice speaks to my heart in whispers.

A sign of Contradiction.

It just fills me up with this amazing joy.

A King and a Savior...


Well another weekend has come and gone. The boys are usually really unhappy on Sunday nights but they are quite optimistic tonight because tomorrow we are going up to Philadelphia to the Franklin Institute to see the Star Wars exhibit. We were supposed to go on Friday, but the weather was so nasty that we decided not to get on the road.
The boys have been looking forward to it for months. I will, of course, take my camera so that I can post lots of pictures.
Laura told me about the coolest new gadget. It's a wireless memory card that dumps the pictures off the camera in to the computer whenever it gets into range of the router!
Wow! Gotta have one of those! OK, there I go coveting again. It would be amazing though.

Laura and Andrew got a new computer. An Apple. They are very excited, and I can't wait to visit and get a look at it.
I love my laptop, but I have a very contentious relationship with the desktop and it is getting more and more cantankerous all the time.
I need it for school and it's the only thing I have that I can print on. The laptop isn't connected.

Oh well, I can blog, and that's the important thing, right?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We're still here!

Yeah, I'm a bum.
I haven't blogged for almost a week.
Lilly has been baptized, I worked on Monday, the boys went to a party, the puppy left, it snowed, we had Christian today, I have a lot of stuff to blog but little time!
Well, Laura and Nina have both blogged about the wonderful Baptism!
Lilly is a beautiful little Catholic girl! She was beautiful before, of course.
The next Sacrament that we have on the horizon is Brendan's 1st Communion, which will be April 19th.
It is freezing out there, the snow is on the ground, the streets are frozen, and so I am going to go curl up under my flannel comforter and talk to Jesus for awhile. He has been very patient, but He always is, and it's a good thing too.
It's nice and warm in our cozy house. The boys are in bed.
We got to watch the Lunar Eclipse for Science tonight! Another Blessing! That is right where we are in our Astronomy program! Well I guess we have moved on to Mars, but we just did the Moon. It was so cool to see it live!
So I'll try to get to this again tomorrow.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The week that was...

Where did the week go?
I am sitting here waiting for Laura, Andrew and Lucy to arrive. They will be here for the weekend as our little Lilly is going to be baptized.
Let's see.
We have had a puppy since Monday. That made the week...extra interesting.
She is such a sweet girl, and she tries very hard, but she really needs another puppy to wrestle with. No, we aren't going to get another one. Karma is going to go hang out with a foster family that has a young puppy and no babies. Her desire to chew is becoming quite apparent! All over the rugs, furniture and kids.
I worked on Wednesday night organizing a home office. It was interesting. I am still amazed that people pay for this! The family was very nice and the work went well. I am looking forward to developing my own clients, because it is kind of hard working on a job in the middle of someone else's vision. I think it's easier when you are able to sit down and visualize order at the beginning of the job, then work through a system to achieve it.
I was out last night and when I got home, Tim noticed that the water pressure seemed kind of low. It seemed to keep getting lower. So it turned out that there was a water main break down the hill from us. UGH!!! I had to call April this morning at six to tell her that there was still no water and that we would be unable to have Christian here today. Then Tim went down to Walmart to get water for drinking, just in case. There have been breaks down in the city that have left people without water for days!
We packed up and went to Mass and when we got home we only had to wait about 1/2 hour and it was back on. It's always amazing what we take for granted.
After we got school finished and lunch out of the way, we went to Bel Air to run some errands. I needed to shop for a gift for Lilly and also the stuff for a cake and so on. I also had to water for a lovely lady that I work for occasionally. She has a houseful of plants. Well, we went and did the shopping and then, because I was preoccupied, we came all the way home for dinner and I realized that I had forgotten the plants! So back to Bel Air dragging three very patient boys along! We got it done and then came home, Tim was here and so John stayed with him while the other two boys and I went for a walk with Karma. Then I had to get the house cleaned and the cake baked before the weekend. Man, I'm bushed!!!
I am excited about Lilly's baptism though.
Tomorrow we are having a "teaching Mass" at Good Shepherd for the homeschoolers in the parish. I am so glad that Fr Jay wanted to do this. I am going to take lots of pictures.
So I guess I will head outside with her highness one last time. At least we don't have to get up TOO early, and we can shower first thing!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Second Station...

Second Station: Jesus carries His cross

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
All: Because by your holy cross You have redeemed the world.

Jesus, as you accepted your cross, you knew you would carry it to your death on Calvary. You knew it wouldn't be easy, but you accepted it and carried it just the same.

As a child, sometimes I don't like the problems that come my way. Sometimes I try to get others to take care of them or solve them for me. Sometimes I become upset and crabby when I'm asked to do even the smallest thing to help others.

As an adult I sometimes feel like I'm not appreciated. Sometimes I feel as if I accept more responsibility that I need to. I can feel sorry for myself, even though the crosses others carry are much larger than my own. In my self-pity, I don't reach out to help.

My Jesus, Who by Thine own will didst take on Thee the most heavy cross I made for Thee by my sins, oh, make me feel their heavy weight, and weep for them ever while I live.

Our Father.... Hail Mary.... Glory Be to the Father....

Leader - Jesus Christ Crucified.
All - Have mercy on Us.
Leader - May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
All - Amen.

Good Karma

We have a puppy!

Am I crazy?
Well, a little background. Last week a call went out on Craig's List for foster families for a whole bunch of dogs from a Kentucky pound that were going to be put down at the end of the week.
I figured we could take one temporarily, just to get them out of the shelter.

I wrote and offered and didn't hear anything back so I figured they didn't need us.
Yesterday I got a call asking if we could take a healthy puppy who was in with a group of sick ones. I said I could as long as it was only a short term.
In the afternoon a young man showed up with a terrified and VERY smelly puppy named "Karma". She was shaking and went into the back of the kennel and wouldn't come near us. I was thinking that we may have a very difficult time socializing this one...
Well, we all worked on making friends and by the end of the evening she had had a bath and was exploring the house. I don't know if she has ever lived inside, but so far she is behaving like a perfect lady!
She is a very interesting brindle color and is very smart.
It shouldn't take long to find her a family, but I am going to be very picky!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Pinewood Derby

We had another rousing Pinewood Derby on Sunday last.
It was just an edge-of-your-seat thrill a minute.
Well it was fun. The boys had fun getting their cars ready and they had some stiff competition in the decoration dept. John named his "The Green Monster" apparently after a vehicle that won a land speed record once upon a time. Brendan decorated his to look like Jeff Gordon's car, complete with the '24' logo that we downloaded off the web. Theirs are the two on the end. Paul's was a Star Destroyer, with a Lego minifigure perched on the top. Can you find it? Unfortunately there were other, more original cars there, like the truck that hauled Moonshine in barrels on the back.Now THAT is Cecil County original.
The races were initially rather disappointing. The boys didn't have a lot of luck in their individual races, but, since their packs are so small, they both got trophies and Paul got a ribbon.

Lucy was along for the ride and was charming after she woke up.
It was a nice time with everyone and the boys went home happy.

The boys gave up TV

The boys were all about what to give up for Lent. They discussed it over every meal.
So when John said he had decided to forgo TV for the next forty days, the others decided that they would choose the same thing. So I thought, well this is good, they can play outside, they can play with their toys, they can read...
In order to encourage the latter we made a trip to the library in Bel Air to stock up on books.
So John found three Garfield books that he hadn't read yet.
Now they are reading me every strip out of each book. The three of them. There are only three books and so I get to hear each comic three times as each of them finds it hilarious.
It's hard to laugh the third time.

They are reading....sort of.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Journey begins...

Tomorrow we begin the Lenten journey of 2008.
I used to look at Lent as an imposition, way back in my younger years. It seemed like something you HAD to do to be a good Catholic.
As I have grown in my Faith I have had many Lenten seasons and a new understanding every year.
I have grown to look forward to the intensified prayer and sacrifice. I have learned to be grateful for the many, many Graces that come from walking the way of the Cross with Christ.
I am determined that this year will be a time of deeper meditation. I want to know Him so much better by Easter.
I pray that whatever you do over the next forty days, there will be moments of reflection, sacrifice and the quiet joy that comes with knowing your Savior in the deepest way.
The first station: Jesus is condemned to death.

He's not in the book you know...

The election has got our attention in this household.
I always follow politics. I think the process is interesting.
In my quest for political truth, I stick to trusted sources, like Rush and FoxNews. We also have a great talk-radio station, that I stream out of DC, with a great show, the Chris Core Show, that is on from 9:00 am to 12:00. So there is always some kind of talk going in the background and the boys are picking up on some of it. John has really gotten a good understanding of the caucus process and what it means to the election. All three boys are asking questions about the candidates, the issues, and why and how we vote. I am amazed by some of their questions and the understanding that they have of much of it. I do have to remind them that we don't discuss our politics in mixed company, particularly at scout Den meetings.

I have a lot of questions myself this time around.
Obviously there are issues that define the candidates as Conservative or Liberal.
I really focus on the life issues when I look at the people that are running. No matter what they are running for. To me the vote I give to anyone has to be earned by that person's courage to stand up and defend the most defenseless, the unborn, the aged and the profoundly disabled. If they don't have even the most basic understanding of the life issues, or the intestinal fortitude to stand up for them, then I don't want them in a position to make other decisions that affect my country or community. There is no excuse for ignorance and no room for cowardice.

I am really not excited about anybody that is running this year. All of them are consummate politicians, with perhaps the exception of Mike Huckabee, who doesn't have a hope anymore.
I don't trust politicians, no matter what their party. They are too much like used car salesmen.
I haven't heard one conservative voice speak in favor of John McCain. He is just too much talk and he is way too close to the center of the aisle. Laura says he reminds her of the gopher from "Winnie The Pooh". I just can't take four years of that.
Mitt Romney.... well, maybe, but I don't know if he has the popularity to manage to beat either Obama the Rock Star, or Hillary the.....

The thing with the conservative position is that it is one of personal responsibility. If you haven't made good decisions, or worked hard, or if you have just had a really bad year, you don't expect the government to bail you out. This is an increasingly unpopular viewpoint.
The Socialist, oops, Liberal position is that the government is there to be sure that you never have to push yourself beyond inertia. "Don't have a job? Don't have a visa? Don't have a clue? Come on over and dine at the table of plenty! We don't ask for a thing in return, just your dependence."
Didn't we fight a war of independence? We celebrate independence from an overbearing government that sold freedom to only certain elite members of society.
We used to be proud of our American Spirit. We used to be a society that encouraged the growth of ingenuity.
So, I guess no matter who gets in this time, the majority of the population is going to be reassured that they can continue to sit at the feet of the big Nanny in the sky.