Sunday, March 11, 2012

3/11/2012 Leprechaun Trap

Seems we've had so many extraordinary weekends and days that I was pretty happy about having a very ordinary Sunday today!

My top #1 goal today was to SLEEP LATE. I'd been up at 5:20am for 5 days in a rowm, then at 6:20am on Saturday to go running (and good thing I got up that early; a few minutes later and the parking lots at Rancho San Antonio would have been packed -- I got in a good 8.7 miler).

Then yesterday we took the kids to see the annual Physics Show at Foothill College. This is such a nice thing that this community college's physics department does -- they demonstrate concepts like inertia, angular momentum, temperature and pressure in such accessible, understandable and entertaining ways. Like seeing the trucks loading up with shopping carts drive away, and all the carts rolling off the truck (inertia!) or hammering a nail with a frozen banana. I wouldn't hesitate to bring my non-scientifically-minded nephew to this.

The grand finale is the pressure demonstration, in which someone lies between two beds of nails, and a sledgehammer is used to break a cement block over him.

I stopped video-ing too early -- after this, the guy gets up, drinks some water and says, "See -- no leaks!"

OK, Good Mom check for Saturday.

But though I wanted to take it easy today, I still had two obligations. One was to meet with a landscape designer -- on a Sunday no less! Responsivel, inquisitive, available by email, experienced with execution as well as design -- I liked her so much I hired her on the spot, and in two weeks we should have a new plant design. Some of our existing plants will stay, but many will be replaced by CA natives, as well as blank spots filled in, screening areas planted (to block ugly view), re-staking plants that need it, moving ones that aren't happy where they are. I'm thrilled -- I love our new landscape overall, but so many of the plants have been bothering me, and we're in garden paradise here, I shouldn't have to put up with a bunch of shrub roses that look awful most of the time.

Fortunately, Dave took all the kids to the BMX park today while I was talking with the landscaper, a very welcome outing for all of them. I sure as heck don't want to do that with Katrina again -- what a complainer! Just the boys is fun though.

The other major obligation today was Julian's monthly "book" report due next week: the leprechaun trap. We've done this once before when Gabriel was in 2nd grade, and it was a very different experience. Gabriel was all over it, excited and couldn't wait to do it, and he did most of it himself. Julian needed a lot of pushing and had a lot of interference from Gabriel, who wanted to "help" but mostly took over and insulted Julian a lot. Julian has his own ideas, but he forms them differently from Gabriel -- he doesn't have the same focus, but he has a lot more creativity and tends to see if more from the leprechaun's point of view, so it's harder to rein in his vast views.

Last week, I took Julian's to Michael's to find some materials, and had to make suggestions for substitutes, thereby making it my project too, sort of.

We were way behind on this project because, silly us, we went away during Ski Week (and even skiied), only to come back to find that the trap itself was supposed to be done. Then we went away the weekend afterward too! I know that was pushing it, especially when I had a class started at 5:30am and the cleaners coming the day after we got home, but I hoped we -- he -- could get the trap done this weekend.

Julian is supposed to do it all himself, but he needs a lot of guidance. I have to find the right box, for instance. He has to cover the walls with paper, but he needs help in how to do that. An idea he had for using a plastic cookie container turned into my suggesting that the lid become a window, which meant more help showing him how to cut out a circle. We used a garland for the "grass" on the top, but handling a bottle of glue and the garland together was a two-person job. One of us got the idea of a rainbow, which we fashioned out pipecleaners, but again I was the one driving the implementation: stick them into styrofoam balls, which I'll cut down, then glue to the top. The ladder was his idea, but he didn't know about notched popsicle sticks or how to use them. He liked my suggestion of reinforcing the ladder joints with pipe cleaners, but it was still my suggestion.

I really believe a kid should do as much as possible themselves, as Gabriel did, but when it comes to craft projects, there's just no getting around Mom being involved to a large extent. I really, really hate craft projects from school, even though this one was fun for me and fun to work on with him.

Julian demonstrates the very well-hidden trapdoor.

Inside, the leprechaun hits a ramp and slides into a bucket, and a bell goes off to alert us to his arrival.

More importantly, I was able to get Julian to write his 8-sentence paragraph about it tonight. So we're almost caught up. Next week: the final draft of the report, and practice his presentation.

Can a Dad's life of raising a girl ever be complete without assembling a dollhouse? While I was working with Julian, Dave got roped into helping Katrina set up cardboard dollhouse she'd gotten for Christmas, which is suddenly her FAVORITE thing in the whole world. Now that it's set up, she gets to furnish, color and decorate it. She was delighted!.

Back to the regular world for me tomorrow -- no more taking classes at 5:20am in my PJs from home....but since we're leaving this coming Friday -- the day Julian's leprechaun trap is due -- for another ski trip, it can't be that real!


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