No Fear

Every time we visit my dad’s house, the beach is a potent draw, and this time was no exception. It has everything that kids (and, I sometimes think, adults) really need to relax: water, rocks, and quiet.

It also has lots of tiny creatures. Most notably for our family, it has crabs. When the tide is out they like to crouch under rocks, away from the sun; turning over a hand-sized rock can send half a dozen little crustaceans scuttling for shelter. This by itself is good fun for children, and although I’ve outgrown my desire to make defenseless little creatures run in terror, I do remember that treasure-hunt pleasure of looking for a really big nest of them.

The boys have always been wary of holding crabs. Probably I shouldn’t have warned them, when the opportunity first arose, that the larger ones can pinch. They like seeing us with crabs in our hands, and were particularly excited when two of the larger ones, finding themselves in Dave’s hands, mistakenly took each other for the enemy and started to menace each other. But otherwise they’ve generally restricted themselves to the Turning Over Rocks part of the endeavor.

Not so with Mica. Maybe she’s just at the right age; maybe it’s her personality; maybe she’s been toughened up by having two brothers. She was happy to pick up crabs, even the big ones, and once Dave gave her tips on how best to do it (hint: take them from behind), she was almost unstoppable. Several times I heard her say “Ouch! He pinched me!” Then she’d go back for more.

Yet More Tie-Dye

I dyed a couple more things for Mica just recently. One was a skirt which was mid-calf length on the (older) child model in the picture, but they clearly didn’t scale down the length for a two-year-old, because she looks like she’s wearing a floor-length tie-dyed petticoat. But the other items fit better, and she’s cute in all of them.

I also did another tie-dying session at Village Free School. This is always an adventure — the questions come thick and furious once we get going on the project — but I think I’m getting better at managing in that environment. Everyone seemed pretty happy, at least, despite the fact that I continue to be unable to answer six questions at a time. And, wonder of wonders, Ryan even decided to join in. (I suspect that he was pretty bored at the time.)

First Picnic

Our first picnic of the year! It was 80 degrees and sunny recently, and Nathan really wanted to be outside, so we headed across the street for sandwiches and fruit in the shade.

Later that same day there were the first popsicles of the year, too; and later still, as the sun was disappearing, we did a second picnic for Food Before Bed. It felt like summer.

Just A Picture

Fun With Chemistry

Recently all kinds of interesting things have been delivered to our door for Dave, resulting in all kinds of fun chemistry experiments. Mostly these involve fire. In this matter I feel that Dave has an excellent understanding of our children’s interests, but let’s be honest, here — this also reflects his interests.

The pictures below are from lighting off some experimental bits of rocket candy. This is a simple concoction, made with sugar, that burns with impressive heat and very little ash. If packed into a PVC pipe, it can also burn for quite a while.

There have also been experiments with thermite, made of two not-very-flammable components that, when combined, produce something that burns hot enough to melt metal. Dave did a couple of experiments with some tinfoil and springs from our (sadly defunct) trampoline. He wasn’t able to weld the springs together (or at least, they broke apart again easily), but he really toasted that tinfoil.

Crystal Mining

I’ve had a crystal mining kit floating around for months now. The idea behind this kit is to give kids the fun and excitement of excavation, but with a guaranteed payoff at the end (unlike in the real world). The main feature of the kit is a chunk of sandy plaster in which is embedded a bunch of stones — quartz, amethyst, jasper, etc.

So the other day, when we were home sick from school, I pulled it out and let the kids at it. The kit came with a little scraping tool and a brush for excavation, but I’d already gotten out a rock hammer in order to break it apart so everyone could have their own little piece, and the boys quickly decided that was a much more effective tool. It was only after they were happily demolishing the plaster that I read the enclosed instructions. This informed me that the point of the kit was the give kids the experience of real excavation, that finding and removing the stones would be slow and tedious work, and that the entire project might take hours or days to complete.

I looked over at Ryan, currently using the rock hammer to smash the plaster to bits, and at Nathan, who’d abandoned his kit-authorized tool for a metal knife and was prying his fifth stone out.

Ok, so we didn’t do it the way we were apparently supposed to. But we came out with a handful of crystals (mostly quartz), and it was a good half an hour of demolition and treasure hunting.

Mica’s Voice

A few excepts from conversations with a two-year-old:

  • Somewhere Mica picked up the phrase “because it/you/he/she was very naughty.” She uses this constantly: “Mica, why are you flushing the toilet again?” “Because it’s very naughty.” For the record, we never use the term “naughty” in our house — but I did read Peter Rabbit to her. (But Peter, who was very naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor’s garden, and squeezed under the gate!)
  • “Can’t catch me!” she likes to sing out, while edging away, looking over her shoulder. She’ll repeat this multiple times if required, until someone chases her.
  • Nathan and Ryan frequently talk about Mica being “cute” or “adorable,” and she has picked up this terminology. Virtually anything she likes is “so cute!” Sometimes when she’s feeling particularly affectionate, she’ll throw her arms around my neck and say “You’re so cute!”
  • Just as sweet is when she leans close to my ear and whispers to me, “Whisper, whisper.” Then she’ll lean back again, give me a delighted smile, and exclaim “I whispered to you!”
  • Driving home from an errand with Dave, she noticed a green light and said, “Green means go!” “And what does red mean?” Dave asked her. “Go faster!” she said.

On a side note, Mica now kills the enemy spider. Cognitive development!