Friday, March 14, 2008

An Update and a Science Lesson (or six)

Wow, 20 comments. Not only is that a personal blog record, but it was so uplifting to receive your comments in my inbox, one by one. They made me smile each time, and I needed that - boy did I need that. And thank you to those who sent emails, too - I will be responding, soon!
To add a little more, Jonathan came down with a high fever - on the day of the farm closing, naturally. So while he was fever'ing on the couch, Rob had to rearrange several appointments to come home and take him to the doc while I ran off to the closing that was to take 10 minutes but, naturally, took three hours. Oh, and all the while, Brady had to wait for me to pick him up from school - two hours late. (Oops)

So here's the news for now.

I'm part-owner of a farm.
I'm also the secretary of the Family Corporation. Please address all future correspondence as such. Ahem.

Brady is 99% certain he will come home to unschool next year.
Keep sending those great "got yer back, grrrl" vibes, because my thin skin is taking a beating on this one. And we haven't even told many folks yet. Aye.

And let's see, what else... I don't have ovarian cancer! That was another thing eating at me. I've been having some strange pains during ovulation, once so badly I vomited, so my doc ran a blood test that is pretty reliable in detecting ovarian cancer. The trouble with ovarian cancer is this - if you catch it early, it's reasonably curable. If you don't, it's fatal. By the time a doc can detect anything wrong during a regular exam, it is often tipped toward the 'too late' stage. NOT a fun thought. My friend Diane went to my doctor at the same time and had the same test - she got her results days later, so I was trying very hard not to read into the fact that it took 4 weeks to get my results. My doc wrote in nice, large scrawl - "No Ovarian Cancer!" - with a big old smiley face on it.
Oh, and another thing - my dog is on Pepcid AC.
I kid you not. She's been vomiting. Frequently. I called the vet. His suggestion? 5-10 mg of Pepcid AC at mealtime. So I'm feeding my doggie the little pink pill. She also got a new doggie bed - ain't she stylin'?
Jonathan's fever lasted 4 days, so it was a mixed blessing to be cooped up in the house. It was a good excuse to shut out the world for a few days, but too much down time just makes me think too much so every evening I'd go to the fitness center and work myself silly, trying to shake off some of my angst.
On day 3, though, he was feeling better enough to be off the couch, and we were antsy. I pulled out a pack of science experiment cards that I bought at the homeschooling conference and they were a big hit. They're made by Usborne, and all of the experiments we've tried so far called for items you likely have around the house. Jonathan selected his favorite six and we got busy. For hours!
(Wait... unschoolers do science experiments?!? Who knew?!)
First, we made crystals. Mix baking soda into hot water and fill two jars. Take a 12-inch length of wool yarn and set the ends in each jar, suspending the yarn over a plate. After a week, you'll have crystals! We saw some by the end of the night!
Then, we tested the power of water pressure. Insert inch-long pieces of straw through the bottom of the bottle as shown, then pour water into the top very quickly - the downward force of the water should make the bottle spin as it drains through the straws. Here's a suggestion - use a 2-litre bottle. The water bottle we used was too small and it only began to spin by the time all the water had drained. A bust.
Next came 'Jumping Pepper.' I was quite amused by this one. Pour a dusting of black pepper into a plastic container and put on the lid. Rub the lid with wool for 30-60 seconds. The pepper should 'jump' to the lid and stick.
Then, take a paper clip and touch the lid. The paper clip will repel the pepper and it will either fall or scoot away. Does anyone know why?
For our third experiment we made a pinhole projector. Cut a 2x4" rectangle into one end of a shoebox and cover it with waxed paper. Use a thumbtack to make a pinhole in the opposite end.

Next, cover the end of a strong flashlight with wax paper. Out of cardstock, cut a triangle that is slightly smaller than the end of the flashlight and color it dark green or dark blue. Tape it onto the end of the flashlight. Now - go into a dark room and hold the lit flashlight about 3 feet from the pinhole while you look through the wax papered rectangle. Notice the orientation of the triangle before you look through the projector - now notice the orientation of the triangle as you look through the projector. What happens?

Next - Balloon rockets!

Cut a piece of string, about 10 feet long, and string it through a drinking straw. (I had trouble with this until Jonathan had the brilliant idea to suck it through!) Tie each end to a chair and set the chairs far enough apart to make the string taut. Then, inflate a balloon (and try to do this without your head exploding - oofda) and hold the neck closed while your partner tapes the balloon to the straw, like this:

And let go!

Project #5 was 'Quacking Duck Vibrations.' Make a hole in the bottom of a plastic cup and run a string through it as shown, knotting it so it won't slip through. Then, grab a handful of wet paper towel and, while holding the cup with one hand, run the wet towel quickly over the string from top to bottom. Do you hear a noise? Does it sound like quacking? (We thought it sounded more like a moaning mutt, actually.)

And we saved the best for last. GOOP. My kids have probably made goop a time or two in museum classes, and I'd heard of it but never actually made it. So simple - so addictingly fun! Mix 2 cups cornstarch to 1 cup water.

Add a few drops of food coloring, then mix with your hands.

Jonathan had his hands in the goop for about an hour straight. He was mesmerized!

And now, just to ensure this post is all over the map, I found this while working on the last youtube upload. Evie, your kids will really want to come over and play now - we have a sith lord in training here. And they could be sith lords too!

Thanks again for your kind words, everyone. Y'all just made my day.


Heather said...

Madam Secretary,
Sounds like you've had quite a week! *Love* the farm. Someday, I'll have my own. And great news :)-no cancer!!

whimsigal said...


All such good news!

Farm owner - yes!

High falutin' position - yes! :)

No cancer - yes! yes!

"The Unschooler" comes home - yes!

I feel good after reading all this good news!

THanks for the update, Laura.


SabrinaT said...

WOW, what a busy and great week. Congrats on the new title, and the good new from the doctor.
we are going to have to steal some of your experiments! They look like such fun.

Not June Cleaver said...

You sure have a lot going on! How wonderful that you don't have to add cancer to the list.

The science experiments and the video are great. I need to get my camera out more.

Anonymous said...

Brady's coming home! Brady's coming home!

You knew all along it would come to this.

You just tell all those naysayers that you are "supporting your son in his decision to take responsibility for his own education."

Let their hair go up in flames, who cares?

Looking forward to some trips to Oakdale this Spring.

Kim said...

We just did the jumping pepper experiment ourselves yesterday.

Anyway, sounds like things have come to a head over there, all based around stress most of which seems external to your family but even your dog is taking a hit! I bet now that the farm thing is settled and the fever broke things will wind down a little bit and oh- wait, is that sunshine and not icy snow outside? If you went back to my December you'd see a series of hideous events all of which convinced me that we as a family were doomed. I didn't blog about it much which I think removed my ability to let it go. I think I'm learning form you to blog it and it will pass.

KMDuff said...

Madam Secretary -

What fun science experiments! Great inspiration. You are awesome! :)

Glad for all of that good news. No cancer! Farm owner! Son coming home!

Continue to be your kids' advocate and stand up for the right to choose and everything. Hugs.

Maria said...

Little stress lately?

Good grief, girl!! I agree with tell those naysayers what she said and let 'em all lump it. That boy knows what he are giving him such freedom of choice, letting him take control!!

You poor dear in limbo with the cancer issue. I"m so glad you got a big smiley face from your doctor!! What a complete relief.

And a farm. How stinkin' cool is that? Secretary indeed.

The times are a changin'! Change is good, change is stressful! But change moves us in new and different directions always. That's a full life!

Stephanie said...

I'm so glad things are working out madam secretary.
Are you trying to scare me? What is a strange pain? I always have cramps and stabbing pains when I ovulate but this is nothing new.

So happy about the unschooling!!!!!

Rational Jenn said...

Congrats, on, well, EVERYTHING! We are definitely going to try some of these science experiments--my budding scientist will love them!

Beverly said...

Thanks for all the work you put into this post. We'll try some of those experiments. Isn't it great when, rather that worry about taking notes and studying for the test, you can just focus on the experiment and have fun seeing what happens? Yeah.

Anonymous said...

20 posts IS a lot! I'm coming out of hiding to wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY tomorrow! Right here, on your blog....just in case some of your readers don't know that tomorrow's a special day. Enjoy it! I'll be thinking of you!

this vignette said...

Those science cards sound cool but I'm disappointed they don't explain WHY things are happening. Rude!

Tina H. said...

Wow....what a huge transition in such a short time. No wonder you were feeling overwhelmed. I hate unsettled feelings. Thinking of you as you go through yet another change.
Life seems to be getting busier for you though!!!

whimsigal said...

BTW, we have watched that video I don't know how many times, and we laugh so hard when we see your little dog running up to your sith lord in training. Ryan is watching it again as we speak!!