Friday, March 27, 2009

Take my new poll there on the right --->

Thursday, March 26, 2009

(the good kind)

production of

In honor of Mick's parents' birthdays, we took them to The Music Man at OSF's Angus Bowman Theater on Sunday. They were down here for a week of the kids' two-week Spring Break (those two weeks are another story, related to Oregon's economic crisis) and we thought that seeing this light musical with the family would be fun.

We took Mick's parents, our kids, and my mom -- and Uncle Kai came, too, which was particularly great because he'd been in the Curtis High School production of this show back in the day. (1989?) Mr. Barbershop Quartet, so I hear.

I've never seen the play, and I thought it would be a fun show -- but I had no idea I would be so smitten.

From the opening "train" scene with all the salesmen singing and moving with a train engine rhythm, to the love ballad "Till There Was You" (which even the Beatles liked, see below), to that fabulous library scene with the sultry teen bookworms moving to "Marian the Librarian," this musical was absolutely charming.

Two big turn-ons in this production:

Bill Rauch directed the play, he's the OSF Artistic Director, and he did two things I thought were brilliant:

1 - Rauch had the entire town and its townspeople clad in gray when the music man comes to town. This set up the town's emotional status perfectly, visibly demonstrating their closed-off, drab, uninspired lives. Only the music man was in color at the beginning, in his bright red jacket. As the town slowly warmed to him and his ideas, bright clothes replaced gray ones, until only the stubborn mayor remained sans technicolor. If you've seen the movie Pleasantville, it had that same powerful effect.

2 - Rauch had the character of Marcellus Washburn (the Buddy Hackett character in the 1962 film) played by a deaf actor. It was mesmerizing and, at the risk of sounding condescending, heart-warming! It made the dialogue fascinating as the music man and Marcellus communicated with each other in a rhythm of words, grunts (that sounds weird, but it's true), and sign language. Furthermore, sign language even found its way into the choreography of one of the numbers the town sings. The sign language was obvious, but at the same time it seemed subtle in the way it sort of bloomed casually from everyone's hands. It was endearing (as is the character of Marcellus) and exciting to see on stage.

Kids favorite parts
At times I wasn't sure my kids knew what to make of the musical. I went over the general plot with them ahead of time and told them it would be a long production, but that's about it. Dane was pretty stoic throughout, and Aubrey smiled and laughed (taking cues from me while she sat on my lap? I don't know).

Afterwards, Dane said he liked the part at the end when the music man's been found out and the town is about to decide his fate when the uniformed marching band surprisingly shows up. He liked the uniforms, the kids, how they showed up to make a difference in the music man's fate, and how they played miserably but their parents were proud.

Aubrey said she liked the walking bridge scene, where a giant blue fabric is whooshed across stage under sparkly lights to look like the river.

Both kids liked the library scene.
(Dare I say it? Maybe... I got trouble!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Need some book ideas for your kids?

Check out these links:
Children's Classics
Caldecott Winners
Newberry Winners

*No, this isn't Aubrey, but we'll pretend it is.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Even the Beatles like The Music Man...

Saturday, March 21, 2009


At Wildlife Safari again, for the Spring Break Special this time: The Elephant Car Wash. And this time we had six cousins, three grandparents, and two moms all piled into Uncle Kai's Sprinter - a.k.a. The Death Star. The Death Star is no small vehicle, but you wouldn't know that next to this here pachyderm, Tiki.

Tiki sprayed and sponged the van - and then ate a carrot from everybody's fingertips.

We were totally wiped out by the end of the day, after all that driving, but it was fun. The Elephant Car Wash was cool. So was the petting zoo, and, of course, so were these photo opps:

More creepy pics...

Cousins in the Photo Booth

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In the hot tub with Mema.

Quote of the Day

I'm playing with my pretend Nintendo D.S. - and now I'm having pretend fun!

-Jude, age 4

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

by Dane Reynolds

One night when the gang was driveing donw a dusty road when they happen to find a little tonw called Phantum Vally and when they got out no one was ther.

The gang started to look a round town and fred said "Something must have scard them away" and Shagy said "like if you think so!!!" And Scooby said "ruhu." Velma said "You chickens be Quiet."

"O.K." Said Shaggy. "r.o.k." Scooby said. Velma, fred, Daffny, Scooby and Shaggy all said "hear that sound?" And there hair stoud up...


and they finally got away and they made a plan. Fred, Daffny, Velma and Scooby would get the ghost behind the mistry musheen. So Shaggy can cut the rope and catch that ghost.

The plan begins...

and the ghost relly was Dr. Mick. and he said, "I would have goten away with it if it weren't for those metleleng kids."

So one by one the people came back to Phantum Vally. the end

About the Author: Dane reynolds. my sister is aubrey. and I also like the movies and Books because they are good!*

*Author Dane Reynolds self-published this book at home and took it to school to read to his 2nd grade class, who loved it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Q & A with D & A - and more Science Fair fun

Walker's Science Fair was fabulous - even without rides! We think about 150 kids chose to participate in the optional event, including four from Dane's class and four from Aubrey's.

Before we post a full-on report and photos, though, there were some good comments and questions made on the previous blog about Dane and Aubrey's projects, so the two mad scientists want to respond to their fans.

These questions are from "Auntie Dani" [Anjie's cousin] in Tacoma, WA-
Q for Dane: Will a cob bench last through all kinds of weather?
A from Dane: It has to have a good roof.

Q for Aubrey: Does baking powder lose its 'umph' if it gets too old? (I have a can that's been in my cupboard since Tai was 10 or so... now, he's 17...)
A from Aubrey: I'm not really sure, but my Mom says, "YOU BETTER GET YOURSELF A NEW CAN!"

These come from "Grammy," hailing from University Place, WA-
Q for Dane: Winter changes to spring in a week - when will your cob bench for the school be built?
A from Dane: I have no idea. It has to be sunny and not rainy.

Q for both kids:
I bet the science fair this eve was really interesting. What are a few of your favorite projects your classmates and schoolmates presented?
A from Dane: The jelly bean one where you got to test jelly bean flavors and you tried getting them right. [The experiment there was to test whether adults or kids have better taste buds. Supposedly, kids do...]
A from Aubrey:
I liked the volcano presentation and I liked when it exploded. They put in vinegar and baking soda. They react and make stuff come out of the volcano.

Q for both kids: I imagine Indi and Barritt were involved. What did they present?
A from Dane and Aubrey: Barritt did one on crystals and salt and sugar. And Indi didn't do one, but she did her first violin recital a few days earlier! [Below is a picture of Barritt and Aubrey in front of Barritt's display.]

These come from "Mema" in Puyallup, WA-
Q for Dane:
Do you have some kind of cover over your structure while it is drying? Also, does it dry so hard that you won't get dirty when you touch it?
A from Dane: If it's wet outside, it dries under some sort of carport cover or in a garage. Our mini-cob bench took 4 days to dry like that. To answer your next question, yes, it dries so hard that when you touch it it doesn't get you dirty.

Q for Aubrey: Was the cake without leavening so hard that you could not even bite into it? How did you know to bake both at the same time so the conditions would be exactly the same (that's science!)?
A from Aubrey: No, but it didn't taste good and it was a little harder. I knew to bake them together, because that's how my mom said that's how we're going to put them in.

Above, Aubrey talks to a judge and explains all the parts of her experiment. When she's finished he gives her a purple ribbon that says MAD SCIENTIST in gold lettering.

Below, Aubrey explains her experiment to her awesome cousin Barritt.

Above, Dane and Avery and Logan pose before their three displays. It was neat to see how the three displays differed. In general, they covered a lot of the same information, but some key differences were:
  • Dane's display pointed out that some cob structures built in the 1400s are still standing; Avery's display said some structures built 500 years ago are still standing - and showed pictures he found on the internet! and Logan showed a photo of how Anakin Skywalker's home in Star Wars I is made of cob;
  • Dane's was the only display that offered hypotheses (what we called his "Best Guess Answers") about other 'natural' and 'environmentally friendly' outdoor furniture options, which is a fun and creative list (personal favorite, you could make outdoor furniture out of "vines, but that might only make a cool tire swing");
  • Avery's display showed the process of making cob with photos he found on the internet that even showed people mixing with their feet;
  • Logan compared soil samples from his school and from his home that showed which was more clay-rich -- a good thing to know when we build the one for the library!
Other projects we saw that night include hillside erosion analysis, DNA strand isolation of a tomato (those two projects were by 5th graders), how to make bubbles from dry ice, how electromagnetics work, how waves form, and lots and lots of experiments to see how quickly a piece of fruit decomposes in different liquids like water, soda pop, or vinegar.

Overall, the science fair was a super learning experience. Personally, I have never participated in a science fair; I'm thrilled my kids have the opportunity to get started at such a young age.

I think that if these building blocks of scientific understanding get started early, they might not feel so confounded when they're 16 and trying to make sense of General Biology or Sophomore Chemistry class... I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Dane and Aubrey have been preparing for the WALKER SCIENCE FAIR for a few weeks now - with a long break for some family Flu in there, of course. Now, Thursday night's the big night. Funnily enough, they both had thought it would actually be held at ScienceWorks (a decent guess) and they'd secretely hoped there'd be rides. (C'mon, it's a fair, right?)

Following is what they've individually prepared (after probably a good ten to twelve hours of work each).

Dane asked the question How can you make outdoor furniture out of material that is natural and environmentally friendly?

Read his list of possible answers on his white board (hopefully you can click on the picture below to read easily). Then peruse the rest of the display to learn about building with cob.

He made a mini-cob bench with his buddies, Logan and Avery, and they got permission to make a large bench (with their parents' help) to put outside the school library. Project set for mid-Spring.

For the science fair, we decided to have the boys figure out their own separate displays for optimal learning - and it'll be fun for them to compare how they each focused their displays.

Aubrey asked the question Why is it important to use baking powder if a recipe calls for it? You can read her answer, how she got to it, and how she tried to grasp the chemical reaction of a leavener on her display board below.

One of her personal goals this year is to bake more, so this was an applicable, fun, and, yes, tasty project -- at least for the one made with baking powder.

With "Cob the Magnificent Mixture" and "Baking Powder to the Rescue!" all finished up and ready for tomorrow's big fair, these two budding scientists went to bed happy and proud tonight.

And rightly so...

Monday, March 09, 2009

This thought makes me happy today:

Often I have tried the frightening way of "reality,"
Where things that count are profession, law, fashion, finance,
But disillusioned and freed I fled away alone
To the other side, the place of dreams and blessed folly.

—Hermann Hesse

*Watercolor from Heron Dance website

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sunday Summary

Two things to report:

1 - Hired a babysitter this afternoon and went with Mick to the OSF production of Death and the King's Horseman. Excellent play. The playwright, Wole Soyinka, is an African who won the Nobel Prize. This particular play is rarely performed outside of Africa, but this year it's being performed in two places: London and Ashland. That makes me happy.

The play takes place in the 1940s and "is based on a real incident that took place in Nigeria during British colonial rule when the ritual suicide of the Horseman of an important chief was prevented by the intervention of the colonial authorities.[1] In addition to the British intervention, Soyinka calls the horseman's own conviction toward suicide into question, posing another problem that throws off the community's balance."

There were many poignant moments, highlighting the conflicts of colonialism and change, but one line stands out for me, affirming what I understand of colonialism. A young African man who has studied medicine in England returns to Africa and reflects on the current crisis in light of his experience abroad, saying, "Your people disrespect what you don't understand."

I love that. What a brilliant way to point out the presumptuousness of dominant nations and their citizens.

Anyway, Mick and I liked the play, liked getting out, and liked our prawn nachos at Tabu afterwards. We also liked coming home to two jumproping kids in the living room, who now call for my attention - so I have to cut this short.

But one more thing...

2 - Went skiing with our family and Kai and his two girls yesterday. Sweet powder. Evidently there was some sweet chubby-chick-snowboarder-butt-crack, too. But it gets better. Kai pointed to said crack as Mick was skiing down the hill. Evidently, the chick sitting was on the hill adjusting her boots, and had a pretty deep crevice atop her drawers. Mick flew down and stopped right before her, spraying her backside with a perfect whoosh of powder that filled the top of her pants and her crack. Then he had the nerve to look uphill when she turned around, miffed -- and act as if he was looking for me. Kai took off skiing and laughing to himself. Later he told me Mick made a perfect little cone in her crevice. I thought maybe we should coin the term "snow coning."

Watch out!

Friday, March 06, 2009

It's time now for another edition of...

Want to see some fascinating artwork? Well, click on GMixdesigns to see Garth Mix's website.

He's my sister-in-law's brother, and, while it may not be technically accurate, I sort of think of him as my brother-in-law. And my kids call him 'Uncle Garth,' just like their cousins do, so there you have it.

Anyway, Garth is an amazing working artist. I admire his work and I admire that he makes a living at it. At his website, you'll see the kinds of projects he's worked on, which include field guides, advertisements, paintings and more. I love his attention to detail.

Here's one of my favorites, a self-portrait he made called 'High Society Dinner Thug'-- I think he's captured the playful renaissance man we all see in him.

G'day, Uncle Garth.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

ScienceWorks hires Miss Anjie

I sent the local hands-on museum two course proposals for their 4-6 year-old day campers -- and now I've got myself two weeks of summer teaching fun. Can't wait.

M is for MAMMAL Camp

The purring cat, the digging gopher, the swimming whale and the laughing hyena all have something in common with you: They’re MAMMALS! Learn how we mammals are alike – and how to recognize other mammals around us. Make edible elephant cut-outs, sculpt crazy clay zebras, and craft your own toothpick porcupines as we delve into the world of mammals together.

Sticky Slippery Messy Mix-y Texture Camp

What better way for curiosity to lead to learning than through the texture – and sometimes taste! – of a good mess? Whether testing the viscosity of cornstarch-and-water, the hardening powers of paper mâché, or the total tastiness of no-bake chocolate cookies, everybody will love observing, exploring and experiencing the world of the ooey-gooey.

Come on! You know you want to be there, too!

Monday, March 02, 2009

the FLU with FLAIR
Saddled with fever, chills, sweating, headaches and dizziness for 5-7 long, rotten days? Why not paint your nails?

That's about as creative as I got last week when Aubrey and I were bitten by the bug.

In the picture above, Aubrey is on the upswing. My Flu started a couple days after hers, so at that point in the week, I was in the throes. Hence, no picture. We took one, but it's so bad I can't bear to post it. The pain crease between my eyebrows would fill a plastic surgeon with glee, and, well, I'm not wearing a bra under my t-shirt, so I spared you all -- all three of you who read this.

Fortunately, Dane and Mick haven't gotten it. I'm not sure they'd go for the pink/red nail thing.

Mick's inhaling an anti-viral every day, specifically prescribed by our doctor for this strand of Flu. And, Dane? Well, I guess we've just got our pretty little fingers crossed for him. So far so good...