A Stupid Culture

I had the pleasure today of having a conference with Skye’s teacher to discuss Skye’s progress. Skye is doing very well. No surprises.

What troubled me about our meeting were a couple of statements made by her teacher.

She doesn’t give more homework because, quite frankly, it wouldn’t get done. The students are too involved with extracurricular activities, video games, and television. She said that for many parents academics takes a back seat to everything else in their children’s busy schedules.

She said her primary responsibility is to work with the pupils who struggle the most. Anything she does to challenge Skye and other bright kids, such as assigning independent work or helping them with advanced concepts, is beyond what is required. She has limited time and resources and is mandated to focus on the kids who need the most help. If it weren’t for her teacher making extra efforts Skye would be left to teach herself or simply go at a much slower pace than she is capable.

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Kirsten: Something I Learned

I always wondered why cutting up raw onions makes me cry. Why does it make me so sad?

How Stuff Works provides a good explanation:

onionWhen you slice through an onion, you break open a number of onion cells. Some of these cells have enzymes inside of them, and when they are sliced open, the enzymes escape. The enzymes then decompose some of the other substances that have escaped from sliced cells. Some of these substances, amino acid sulfoxides, form sulfenic acids, which then quickly rearrange themselves into a volatile gas.

The gas reaches your eyes and reacts with the water that keeps them moist. This changes the chemical’s form again, producing, among other things, a mild sulfuric acid, which irritates the eyes. The nerve endings in your eyes are very sensitive and so they pick up on this irritation (this is why our eyes sting when we slice onions). The brain reacts by telling your tear ducts to produce more water, to dilute the irritating acid so the eyes are protected.

It is these same sulfur compounds that form the nice aroma when onions are being cooked.

There are various methods for preventing eye irritation while slicing onions. Among them are to stand as far away from the onion as your arms will allow, and breathe through your mouth (which reduces the airflow through the nose and into the eyes). Cooking the onion before you slice it will minimize the release of gas because the change in temperature alters the compounds in the onion. You may also slice the onion under water; however, you will wash some of the aroma out. Another way to avoid irritation is by not cutting off the root of the onion, or by doing it last, as the root of the onion has a higher concentration of enzymes.

Some suggest that placing a slice of lemon under your top lip, holding a sugar cube between your teeth, or holding a piece of bread (a quarter slice) between your lips will absorb the gas before it reaches your eyes. This makes me think of those “hiccup cures.”

Then again, you could risk looking silly and wear goggles. My personal preference: omit the onions.

Skye: Something I Learned

Why is a bunny the mascot of Easter? Is it possible that a bunny is smart enough to hide eggs for kids to find?

Easter comes from the word Eastre, a pagan saxon goddess.

In the 1600s bunnies were first mentioned as an Easter symbol in German writings. Bunnies were to remind you of the delightful spring. It was told that children would make nests out of their caps. Then, bunnies would put eggs in the hats.

In the 1700s, German settlers came to America and told tales of the Easter Bunny. In the 1800’s the first edible Easter bunnies were made. They were made of pastry and sugar.

I was surprised that in the 1600s, kids just found the eggs in their hats instead of looking for them. It was interesting that the Bunny is a symbol to remind you of Spring.

Bunnies are the mascot of Easter to remind you of spring. Bunnies are definitely not smart enough to hide eggs.

Hayley: Something I Learned

I wanted to learn about how they make paper because it was the only thing I could think of. I liked learning about how they make paper.

Paper is made from fibers that come from plants and trees. The fibers are beaten and mixed with water to make what’s called pulp. Then you put the pulp on a fine screen called a mold. Then you let it dry. Then you take the paper off the mold.

Egyptians made another kind of paper called papyrus 4,000 years ago. The word “paper” comes from the Greek word papuros.

Jenna: Something I Learned

A python eatingI wanted to learn about how snakes can eat things that are larger than themselves. I want to know that because it’s interesting how they are able to do that. How?

I learned that their jaws split in four so the mouth gets larger. When they swallow their prey their skin stretches out to make room for their prey. They eat deer, pigs, chickens and much more.

Imagine if you were being eaten by a snake! It’s really cool. Snakes do have bones.

Before eating the prey, snakes wrap their body around its food and squeeze it when it moves or breathes.

Watch a video here.

Wafer Cup Cakes

It was my turn to prepare the refreshments for Family Night this week. Kirsten helped me with the idea (and every other aspect). Our first go we filled the cups too full and they overflowed and collapsed the cups while baking. Our second attempt was far more successful. Cheap, simple and delicious.

Just fill ordinary ice cream wafer cups half full with ordinary cake batter. Bake. Frost. Decorate.

Kirsten basically did everything. She knows where all the stuff is and how to operate her gizmos. I tried to do it, but she wouldn’t let me.

Kirsten helping
Kirsten helping

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Art Exhibition

The girls’ artwork is current on exhibition at the Saco Museum. We visited yesterday morning. It was our first time at the museum.

Hayley made a stuffed fish in her art class. It’s isn’t a fish you could filet and eat for dinner. Nor could it swim in the ocean. It’s mostly made of paper. They drew with oil crayons over the paint. With the red crayon Hayley made lipstick. Then they cut out fish shapes, stapled the edges together and stuffed them with newspaper.

Hayley's stuffed fish (with lipstick)
Hayley's stuffed fish (with lipstick)

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Kirsten: Florida Vacation 2009

I’m so glad we had the opportunity to travel to Florida to see Richard, Patsy, and all of Brent’s siblings as well as most of their families. It has been a long time since everyone has been together, and it was great hanging out and visiting with everybody.

We headed to Kennedy Space Center one day with Brent’s brother Scott and wife Kelly, and his brother Michael and girlfriend Kim. To our disappointment it is no longer free to enter the main part of the museum. We hung out and took pictures outside before going to Ron Jon’s Surf Shop.

Scott, Michael, and Brent at Kennedy Space Center.
Scott, Michael, and Brent at Kennedy Space Center.

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Hayley: Florida Vacation 2009

On the drive we went to a lot of gas stations. At one of the gas stations Mom found one of the White Kit-Kats that I wanted. She wanted to make it a surprise for me.

When we got to Florida I was surprised it was a little cold.

For breakfast in Florida we went to Dunkin Donuts. I didn’t eat the whole donut in Maine, so I just got a muffin instead.

When we got to Heypop and Nana’s house I was so surprised to see Buffy. Skye said she was a snoodle. It was kinda funny. A snoodle?

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Skye: Florida Vacation 2009

I had an awesome time in Florida. It was fun and relaxing, and the weather was warm.

We arrived in Florida on Tuesday. Heypop, Nana, and my family met my Uncle Ken and Aunt Heidi at Subway for lunch. I got to see my cousins Cathryn and James. I’m a picky eater, but I enjoyed my turkey and cheese sandwich, Doritos, and a juice box. My meal came with a toy that I gave to Jenna. Cathryn came back to Heypop and Nana’s house with us, and I had fun playing with her.

Me at Kennedy Space Center
Me at Kennedy Space Center

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