Archive for March, 2012

It’s like riding a bike…


My kids don’t know how to ride bikes without training wheels. We took the training wheels off two summers ago, but they’ve just never turned the proverbial corner and spent the time to figure out how to ride. We spent a couple of afternoons making good attempts last summer, but neither one of them got more than a house or two away without falling.

Cut to today: the kids down the block come over and ask D and Rose to ride to the park with them (and their dad). My kids – “Sure! Can you get our bikes out, Mom?” And I say sure, but quietly remind my kids that they need some practice as they haven’t been on bikes since last summer, and even then not very successfully.

So we get the bikes out, fill the tires, adjust the seats, put on helmets, etc.  And my kids REALLY want to do this.  So bad.  They are determined.  But there is no way they are going to learn to ride bikes well enough in a half hour to go to the park with their friends.

I mitigate their expectations: you have to learn to pedal, balance, steer, and brake well enough to get to the corner before I am even going to consider letting you go to the park.  And they both get to where they can do two of the things on the list, but not all four.  (Dillon had a spectacular wipeout where he rode almost directly into the fire hydrant.  I am pleased that no part of him wound up bloody after that one, just very, very muddy and grass-stained.)  So we opt to stay home and practice a bit more.  But they are really determined, and I think that having kids down the street that ride bikes everywhere is going to be the motivating factor.  They are going to figure this out this summer.  They got this.

Happy Pi Day!


Quoth my nephew: Do you like this? I made this for you.

Oscar kind of lies about that, though.  (He’s three, what do you expect, really?)  He’s an adorable little liar.  I guess I am lying, too: unless you work with me or Charles, the likelihood that you will eat either the pecan pie or the banana cream pie pictured above is pretty slim.  But I hope you get some pie on Pi day anyway!

Chore Chart


I’ve gone from working around 30 hours a week to upwards of 43 hours a week in the past two months, and you can tell by the state of my house.  Having afternoons when I could be around the house with the kids was nice, and things definitely were running more smoothly.  So I’ve felt like things were spinning a little out of control lately.  And how do I regain control?  By browsing Pinterest, looking at chore charts.

I looked at a couple of varieties and decided to make my own.  First, I asked Charles for a plank of wood from his scrap pile.  It had already been finished, and was a little weathered, but I liked how it looked and it kind of matched our woodwork.  There was a cute chart on Pinterest with this Maya Angelou quote, and I liked that too.  But Charles didn’t feel like the sharpie was visible enough:


So I traced over it with a silver paint marker, leaving a little sharpie showing behind it so that it looked like a drop shadow.


Next, cup hooks for the ‘to do’ and ‘done’ tags under each name:


I found these tags at an office supply store.  I think they are for rummage sales or estate sales, and I just printed out chores and glued them on.  I’m using the bottom hooks for chores that we don’t need to do this week.

We are working on a game now, and maybe there will be some prize for the person with the most completed tags at the end of the week, and you can steal them from each other when you complete your own or something.  I’ll let you know how that shakes out.  And whether I finish the week feeling more in control of my life.

Aquaponics update: and then there was one.


We are down to one fish in the aquaponics experiment out of the three we started with.   Here’s an excerpt of Dillon’s paper on the topic:

I started the project with three fish.  My fish are a chocolate oranda named Shadow, a redcap oranda named Ron, and a butterfly tail goldfish named Shy. [A bunch of research paper deleted here.]  I had a number of problems with the fish part of the experiment, though I was on the lookout for these problems thanks to my reading.  I first had a pH problem, because the pH of the water would spike and get too high for the fish, and we had to lower the pH by using a product called pH down.  Then I had a temperature problem, and the water was too cold, so we got an aquarium heater. Finally, I had an oxygen problem, which I realized because the fish were gasping for air at the top of the tank.  We got an oxidizer for the fish to solve this problem. We lost two fish during the experiment probably due to these problems, or the fluctuations in these elements.  The book I was working from, Aquaponic Gardening, told me to expect this and suggested to gardeners to start their cycle with goldfish rather than tilapia or perch because you often lose fish when you are starting up your system before all of the levels are regular enough and stable.

So, Shy and Ron are no longer with us.  What the writing above doesn’t really tell you is the level of hysteria that my kids felt at the death of Shy.  They kept it together a bit more when the second one, Ron, died.  (Poor Ron Weasley, I think it wasn’t as sad because they didn’t really notice he was sick, Shy was clearly not doing well for a while.)  And Shadow is looking a little shady.  But we’re testing everything and the water seems to be habitable for the fish, with an appropriate pH, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.  I’ve had a number of (even long-lived) goldfish in my life, and never kept them in such luxury or cared about the chemicals in the water, which often wasn’t changed particularly regularly.   Did we just get lemons in the goldfish department?  It’s only been six weeks – I thought for sure we could keep at least one alive for a couple of months.  Thoughts?