Tuesday, July 26, 2016

While the girls are away, the boys will do their best to... nap sufficiently, and in the absence of that, drive far away so the Manimal gives up and sleeps and we arrive at a waterfall.

So yea, the girls left us, as you've already learned, a couple weeks back. They left in the morning on a Friday, and Manimal and I went to the zoo right away:

We went sans stroller and there was lots of shoulder riding. It was mega-hot and this is the only photo that could be taken before I looked like a waterfall.
Unfortunately, after all that fun, Manimal fell asleep on the ride home. Well, that's all fine and good, but when we arrived at home, he perked up, "Mommy!?" and wanted to say hi. But Mommy was on a plane. So instead, we fed the manimal more (this is a common technique in our household). And then we tried napping in a bed. Mommy was mentioned once or twice more. Sleeping did not happen. After trying unsuccessfully for a couple of hours, I finally tossed him in the car and I decided to drive. I didn't have a plan going into it, just, let's go somewhere, maybe you'll sleep. But after thinking for a few, I decided we should drive to a waterfall. Alli'd sent me a list of waterfalls you could drive to from Nashville on a couple of occasions, so I sorted through a list, and chose what I thought was closest- at Rock Island State Park. My information said 1 hr 20 mins. Two hours later, I arrived, and at this point it was after 5 p.m. We hit the first gas station we could find, where I woke up Manimal (he went to sleep about 5 mins into the drive) and loaded up on healthful dinner options. You know, chex mix, toastchees, beef jerky, that sort of thing. And finally we headed to the falls. As I pulled up at 5:50 I saw the sign indicating the park closed at 6. Ugh. I got out though, and saw this view:
kind of a ways to walk to the falls, didn't look like we were going to make that by 6. Talked to a park ranger though, who informed me there was a better view from the other side of the river, and that that part was open until dark. So we headed over there, and here is that view:
Manimal liked it too:
"daddy, the waterfall!"
We went for a little walk down a trail, but 1) there were signs everywhere indicating how this was downstream from a dam, water releases happened on schedule and sometimes could happen off schedule, please have your exit route in mind, 2) we seemed to be the only people there, which just felt a little eerie on top of the signage, and 3) the sky turned dark and the thunder began. As I recall, my weather apps didn't indicate impending rain, but I made a decision to head back to the car, and I sprinted the last 30 steps or so as the bottom began to fall out. 
I didn't even buckle Manimal in his seat so I wouldn't have to stand there getting soaked. So here he is sitting up in his seat, holding a Nowie, watching the rain:
It poured on us for at least an hour of the drive back home.
Anyway, after that initial napping hiccup, Manimal treated me pretty well for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday we spent a good portion of our time cleaning because our house really needed it. I'd had many ideas of what I might do, but those were all before I drove a total of 4 hrs Friday to and from the waterfall. So after a good bit of cleaning while Manimal mostly entertained himself, when it was time we get out of the house and do *something*, we headed to Home Depot and Walmart. Fun, right? Sadly, no pictures. But we bought some things so we could complete a few little projects at the house, so it'd be happy for the ladies when they returned. Then nap. I mowed the yard while he slept, but didn't finish it 100%, manimal just woke up very unhappy. But I did take him outside to show him how I was almost done mowing, explained to him what the lawnmower is when he kept asking about it, and told him he needed to go watch me finish the yard from inside. As we walked back, "bye bye, haircut grass", waving at the mower.
It was also during this day that Manimal decided to adopt the phrasing "not yet". "Manimal, did you poop?" "Umm, not yet". "Manimal, do you want to take a nap?" "umm, not yet".

Saturday night we went to cheesecake factory for dinner. I figured if the girls were having a fancy weekend in NYC, we could eat cheesecake. Or mac and cheese anyway:
He had taken a bath earlier in the day. A good portion of that mac and cheese ended up in his hair. But Manimal did pretty great, we got a table outside where we could watch people walking by, they could all comment as they passed on how adorable he is, he could get down and run a bit every now and then. 
He slept well for me again that night, even sleeping until 7:45 Sunday. We went to church on our own, came home, got some lunch, napped, and then the girls came back home and we picked them up from the airport. And all were happy ever after.

Next time I should probably take more pictures.
Here, here is a picture of brother and sister so happy to be together again the next day as we waited to ride the horsey at Kroger:

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sunday, July 24, 2016

For Hamish's 4th birthday, I thought she needed a microscope. Actually there was some debate between a microscope or a telescope, but I eventually decided for the immediate future the microscope would be more interesting. We got this usb microscope, though there are many other potential options. Initially I was thinking a real backlit binocular microscope that would be able to view cells and such, but once I stumbled across these I immediately started to see the promise. With this microscope design, the adult can do the bulk of tinkering with focusing and finding an object of interest, and it's displayed in real time on a computer screen that anybody else in the room can watch and be fascinated. It has its own LED lighting, and it's just a small camera that you can move wherever you want, so you can easily press it up against your face, or a leaf on a tree, or whatever other object you want to see in microscopic detail. It has two zoom levels of 50x and 250x, and as you'll see, 250x is pretty cool.

Now I promise when I bought this I fully intended it as a present for Hamish, and I think she does think it's cool and will probably even be more interested in it as time goes on. But I can't help but think this thing is amazing and that most anyone who sees what it can do will want one. I am not yet getting paid to advertise... but I probably should be.

Okay, so what can it do?

Well, you can begin with looking at some pretty seemingly mundane objects, like salt

or you can check out the fabric on the shirt you're wearing:
okay, next, I show you a picture and you guess what it is. Ready?
any guesses?
That is my computer screen. Those are individual pixels, red, green, and blue, in little pairs. super neat.
But you'll quickly turn the camera on yourself and check out your hair and beard (this is my beard):
Maybe you look at a flower (daisy):

But when Hamish considers objects to look at, she quickly wants to turn the microscope on the bugs. And the bugs is where it's at. Check some of this out:
That's a fruit fly I caught. This is the 50x resolution view, and he's also in a plastic bag so I didn't lose him. I could have done better, but here's some higher res:
As I'd hoped, this somewhat quickly turns into bug hunts with the immediate thought when one is caught: let's go look at it under the microscope.
Here is what a springtail looks like (little bitty bugs that show up in our house around the sink upstairs in the summer):
We found a little white fluff bug outside- it just looked like a crawling piece of lint. The lint wasn't all that interesting, but his underside was:
apparently they can bite. From what I can tell this was a lacewing larva.

Bug whose name we have not learned:
I think this was the same bug on the backside:
So Hamish and I named it the M bug.
A tick that we pulled off of Hamish, and saved in the freezer in a plastic bag until the microscope arrived:
50x. Now 250x:
another fun bug. Maybe an owl bug:
I tried to get a good look at his eyes, but it was kinda hard:
So, as you can see, you need one.
But, I guess I should give fair warning, it might give you nightmares if you look at the right thing. So, trigger warning? This isn't a cockroach, just a beetle, but it's still alien and crazy. (It's stuck on its back):