Dusting off the blog

It has been almost 2 years since the last blog post that I have written. Long enough that I couldn’t remember how to log in to my blog or even what program I used to use to write my blogs. Thomas and I are starting a new adventure and a friend suggested I should blog about it. I love the idea of documenting everything we’re doing but I’m not sure if I’ll have the dedication to take the time and write about it. We’ll see how this goes.

It’s funny how I have shared different interests with each kid. When Daniel was still living at home we watched a lot of cooking shows; Iron Chef, Anthony Bourdain, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Man vs. Food. Mostly shows with exotic foods and chefs that travelled around the world. Then when he left for college I never watched another cooking show, it made me too sad to watch them without Daniel. Beth and I watched Project Runway and Americas Next Top Model again not shows I ever watched without her. Thomas and I also have our favorite shows, we love car shows; Top Gear, Fast N Loud, Counting Cars if we had the space we would buy an old car to rebuild together, sadly we don’t have the garage space for that. We also like auction shows, house flipping shows and renovation shows. Thomas has also been the kid that has had the privilege of living almost his whole life in a construction zone and helping with the many never ending renovations we’ve tackled in our very old house.

So on to that new adventure…I am buying a house for us to renovate. While I really want to flip houses this first one is for the kids to rent. At first Daniel, Megan and Beth will live in the house. Then in 4-5 years when Thomas is ready to start at the Police Academy him and BJ plan on kicking the other kids out and moving in.

I think I need to clarify my previous statement that “I am buying a house for us to renovate.” I have been wanting to do this for years, recently I started looking at house online and stumbled across the house we are now very close to owning. I didn’t mention any of this to Dan until the night before I had set up a showing, it was just an idea I was throwing around and I wasn’t really sure where it was going to go. Dan couldn’t go see the house with me but Thomas and I fell in love. OK maybe I fell in love and Thomas was quietly stoic. Dan did go look at it the next day and agreed that this was an amazing deal and a house with great bones. Yes, it needs a ton of cosmetic work but structurally it is very sound. Without one word of complaint or objection Dan worked out the financial side of this endeavor and made it happen for me. I love that about him, instead of pointing out that our house is practically condemnable due to unfinished projects he just lets me go into something that is a little bit crazy.

I do have a big picture plan; Thomas and I will do all the work we can on this house (with a little help from Dan when his expertise is needed) and within 2 months it will be move in ready. Then I think we should move in so Thomas and I can gut our kitchen and bathroom and finally get our house finished. That idea is very dependent on our financial outlook at that point, but that’s what I’m hoping we can do. About the time we are done with all that the kids leases we be ending in their apartments and they should be ready to move into the house. And if all of this goes as planned then the next house I buy will be a flip and we can finally make some money from this new endeavor.

Everyone loves water parks

After our fun at COSI we all walked across the bridge to the waterpark at the Scioto Mile. It has been a ridiculously hot spring, which is hard for these Seattleites to take considering it’s only 60 degrees out west.

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So contemplative

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and Zen-like

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Even the big kids got in on the fun. BJ said he didn’t plan on getting wet, but how can you resist?

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Thomas was running towards me being silly, this really nails his essence, I think.

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It’s even more fun when the BIG sprinklers come one…

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What a great day with friends and cousins.

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Even G-ma and G-pa came along, it’s like they’re homeschooling parents now that they’re taking care of my niece and nephew while my sister is working on getting her house sold.

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Another fun day with the boys

We are really enjoying having BJ, umm I mean William (that is just not gonna stick) back with us in Ohio. It’s like Thomas’ long lost brother has returned.  The boys are doing great together, they must still be in the honeymoon phase because they have not had any fights or problems at all. It probably helps that they’re not together everyday. BJ splits his time between our house and my parents house. That little bit of away time seems to be keeping everyone happy.

I don’t think BJ was expecting to have as much fun as he’s been having hanging with all our homeschooling friends. It’s always a little awkward being the new kid in a group. But our group of kids are just awesome and completely welcoming to everyone that joins them.

We’ve been to the rock climbing wall at the Scioto Audubon Park twice this week. The second time was for a class on climbing the wall. That was nice because there were lots of rangers there to help belay the kids. Unless you have at least 2 people with gear you can’t climb with the ropes. The kids still have fun though, even when they don’t get to climb all the way to the top.

Climbing wall: The largest free outdoor climbing wall in the country, 35 feet high. Climbing is free, but climbers must bring their own ropes and equipment. The climbing wall opens at 9am and closes one hour before the park close. On the second Friday of the month, from March through November, the climbing wall will stay open till midnight.

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There’s also a fun playground for the kids to play on on when they’re not rock climbing.

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Circuit Benders’ Ball

Thomas, BJ and few friends did a workshop this past weekend at The Columbus Idea Foundry on building a Two Transistor Light Theramin.

And what exactly does that mean you may be asking? Well essentially it is noise maker that has a light sensor on it. But in the process of building that the kids learned how to solder the very small electronic connections and they learned how to create a simple two transistor light Theremin based on the 1976 Forrest M. Mims III design.

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Both Thomas and BJ knew how to solder form previous classes they’ve taken. But building the transistor was something new for them both. BJ thought it was even more difficult than working on computer boards like he’s done in the past.

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All the kids ended up with their own noisy little transistors, whose sole purpose seems to be only to annoy all the older people within earshot.

A Day in Cleveland

On Friday we left the house at 6am to meet up with some friends and drive 2 hours north to spend the day in Cleveland.

Our first stop was The Playhouse Theatre to see Red, a Tony award winning Broadway Play about the artist Mark Rothko. This show was amazing! If you have a chance to see it, I highly recommend it. It is pretty intense and there is some bad language, it is meant for older kids and adults. Besides the show being completely amazing two other things I took away from this were always go early for the preshow talk, it gave so much more insight to the production and really helped the kids (and myself) better understand what was happening. And always stay after for the talk with the performers. It’s so interesting to see what they have to say about their experience doing the show.

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Next stop was lunch, we thought we would eat at the Westside Market, but instead we just picked up dessert. As Thomas said it was all meat, cheese and pastries…It did remind me of a cross between the North Market in Columbus and Pike Place Market in Seattle, not quite the same as either of them but the same cool market vibe.

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After buying our desserts we headed back to a little Mexican place, Ohio City Burrito, we had passed on our walk to the market.

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After lunch we spent the rest of our day at The Great Lakes Science Center. Since the kids volunteer at COSI they spend a lot of time at the Columbus science museum, it’s fun to see other science centers and compare them to COSI.

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The kids had fun in the Goosebumps exhibit, learning all about fears. Thomas does not have a fear of falling…

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But he does have a fear of clowns.

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Thomas and Molly struggled to build the Canterbury Arch. Poor Molly she is just a little too short to reach the top…

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Hmm Kristen wasn’t too much help, they definitely needed Thomas’ height to get to the center up. Thomas claims that he can do this by himself at COSI, I’m not sure how that would be possible.

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I loved the view of Lake Erie from the museum.

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Such a pretty walkway down to the water.

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It was a whirlwind day, 14 hours of driving and exploring. We had so much fun on this little road trip. This is what homeschooling is all about. The flexibility to take a day and go explore. I love our homeschooling life!

You can see more about this trip on Kristen’s Blog.

Making Pysanky Easter Eggs

Finally after more than a years break we resurrected one of our favorite co-op activities, Geography Club. From the time Daniel was young we have been going to monthly geography club meetings. Learning all about the different countries and cultures from all over the world.

As the years passed the group kept changing, kids grow up and moms move on, until finally all of the original members had moved on. Those of us left behind tried to keep it afloat but eventually we just needed a break. But the break is over and we have been reinvigorated.

This month we studied Eastern Europe, we started as we always have with a map challenge so the kids can show off all the countries they have memorized over the past 3 weeks.

We were the first to arrive so the kids spread out and got to work. Apparently, they wanted to make sure no one was looking at their answers.IMG_5827

Here’s the whole group working hard.

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After several different activities (a comparison of population density, an explanation of the European Union, looking over some Euros, a PowerPoint presentation from an older sibling that just returned from overseas and more…) we got on to the fun artsy part of the day. Making Pysanky (Ukrainian) Easter Eggs. We didn’t have time to use a traditional method, instead we used sharpies on blown out eggs.

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They turned out great even without using melted wax and dies.

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Circuit Bending at The Columbus Idea Foundry

Circuit bending is the creative customization of the circuits within electronic devices such as low voltage, battery-powered children’s toys and small digital synthesizers to create new musical or visual instruments and sound generators.

But before you can start on the circuit bending to have to make your “bending buddy.” During which you will learn how to solder, drill plastic, mount components, and work with hot glue (really?) these are all essential circuit-bending skills. Making the bending buddy took most of the 2.5 hour class. Nut now that we know what we’re doing we could whip one out in 15 minutes or so. Waiting for the instruction and tools when in a group takes a bit of time.

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Once you’ve got your bending buddy all put together, it’s time to take your toy apart. Who doesn’t love taking things apart?

The best toys for circuit bending have some or most of these attributes:
– Battery operated and makes noises electronically through a speaker
– Looks easy to take apart and put back together
– Has lots of extra space inside
– Already makes cool noises
– Music toys like keyboards and drum toys
– Toys from the 1980s and 1990s
– Talking toys with voices that sound computerized
– Simple noisemakers like greeting cards or one-button noisemakers
– Non-motorized toys (can be done but makes for more take apart time)
– Something you can live without if the circuits get fried.

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Then it’s all trial and error, keep moving around your clips touching different spots on the board trying to make interesting noises. Thomas didn’t have much luck making music but he did recreate many of the circuits and was able to make the toy make sounds without pushing its buttons.

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The bending buddy in action:

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Thank you to the circuit-bent rock group, CMKT 4 for driving all the way to Columbus from Chicago for this interesting and very noisy program.

We are looking forward to doing more classes at The Columbus Idea Foundry, it is such a cool space.

The Columbus Idea Foundry is Columbus’s own community workshop, DIY learning center and creative space. Our goal is to teach introductory hands-on classes in fields such as welding, silversmithing, blacksmithing, jewelry making, small and large metal casting, stained glass soldering, CAD/CAM/CNC, laser cutting, vacuum forming, screenprinting, electronics, and more. Once trained to use our resources, members may rent time on our tools to practice their skills or work on personal projects.