Friday, April 30, 2010

Good times ahead

I'm so excited for the weekend. Not just because it's going to be warm and sunny and wonderful (no freezing my butt off at soccer in the morning - woohoo!), but because I'm meeting up with an old friend on Sunday to go antiquing and grab some lunch. We're heading to an antiques shop that I've been dying to check out for almost a year. I'm leaving A and R to fend for themselves for the day without a car, but I think they'll be fine. :-)

I also picked up Jennifer Weiner's Certain Girls last night, so I've got a fun, stay-up-all-night-reading-because-I-can't-put-it-down book.

Have a great weekend! I'll let you know what treasures I find.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Meteorite Men -- and Boys!

Have you ever seen the show "Meteorite Men" on the Science Channel? If you haven't, you must! A and R found it one day while channel surfing, and we've been hooked ever since. Of course, R was already obsessed with (1) anything to do with space and (2) rocks, so it wasn't too much of a surprise that he'd like the show, but I find myself watching it (and DVRing it) when R is in bed because it's just so interesting and entertaining.

It follows these two very funny guys, Geoff and Steve, as they hunt for meteorites in different locations around the U.S. (from what I've seen so far). They talk about their equipment and the science of it all, but mostly it's just the two of them cracking jokes and teasing each other as they hunt, getting frustrated when they don't find anything, and getting excited when they do. My favorite episode so far was when they hunted for three days without finding anything and then on their drive back, they spotted a whole mess of meteorites just laying on the dirt road! Crazy!

This show has had quite an impact on our little family. R hunts for meteorites wherever he goes. He's planning to make a meteorite hunting stick (walking stick with a big magnet attached to the bottom), similar to the ones Geoff and Steve use on the show. (R actually requested that we get him a pick axe like theirs, but we figured a 6-year-old doesn't need a pick axe quite yet. Maybe next year.)

I think I mentioned a little while ago that R thought he found a meteorite on the street. He and I were walking home from school one day, and he crouched down, picked up a rock, and insisted it was a meteorite. I laughed it off, but when we got home, R discovered the rock was magnetic. It's a little rusty, so we know there's iron in it. R and A researched how to identify meteorites online, and they tried a scratch test by scratching the rock on a porcelain tile. It passed. (I can't remember what a meteorite does in the scratch test, but this rock did whatever a meteorite is supposed to do.) In the meantime, R spotted a second rock like the first one in the same location on the street. Then, A ordered a kit that tests for the presence of nickel because meteorites have both iron and nickel in them. And, the nickel test was positive for both rocks! A and R have also dug out the microscope and examined their specimens. And, they've compared R's finds to some real meteorites that we've bought.

R's "meteorites"

Now, we know that the likelihood that these two rocks are meteorites is pretty darn low. I mean, they were just laying on the side of a paved street. It was after our huge, colossal rainstorms and flooding, so maybe there's a slight chance these were unearthed and swept down the street from somewhere else. But, whatever -- R was excited and started telling all his friends. And, because his class was doing a science unit on magnets, R's teacher let him bring the "meteorites" into school.

The next thing I knew, most of the boys in R's class were talking and writing about meteorites, and A even took a few of them on a meteorite hunt on our street. Other parents keep coming up to me and telling me how their kid is constantly looking for meteorites. So cool!

On R's birthday, we took him to the Harvard Museum of Natural History to see the museum's curator, who we talked to about meteorites during the Earth Rocks festival they hosted a few weeks ago.

R at the Earth Rocks festival at HMNH
(Photograph by Patrick Rogers

The curator was very nice and was impressed by our somewhat scientific approach (e.g., using a real meteorite as the control specimen), but he said it was inconclusive. I think he didn't want to disappoint R too much, but he said that it was pretty unlikely that R's rocks were meteorites. He was also intrigued, however, that our nickel tests had come out positive. Either way, R seemed fine about it, and his "meteorites" are now on display with all our other gems and minerals and meteorites in our living room.

So, we're living the Meteorite Boys life here. And, A and R are insisting that our next family vacation has to be to Arizona or Nevada or some other barren, desert land where they can hunt for meteorites.

We'll see, boys.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Whole Lot of Birthday

Last week was R's school vacation and his birthday. I had the week off with him, and we had a nice time together hanging around home, riding bikes, meeting up with friends at the park, going to IKEA (hooray!), doing science experiments and craft projects (remember Shrinkydinks?!?!), and going to see "How to Train Your Dragon" (which was really, really good! especially in 3D IMAX).

But the best part was his birthday. Between our family party at home with my sister who was visiting from Pittsburgh, exploring the Harvard Museum of Natural History and asking the curator about R's potential meteorites (diagnosis: inconclusive), going out for a birthday dinner with friends at the Melting Pot, and a huge friend party at this place, it was quite the stellar celebration.

 Cake at home

The BIG slide at the bouncy place

Exiting another big bouncy slide

R, me, and my friend's daughter

Cake with friends

Connect 4 with Aunt Ericka

We had a great visit with my sister, and we were really sad to take her back to the airport on Sunday. She and R played lots of games together and had many tickling fights. I loved sharing a blanket with her on the couch each evening and gabbing and watching TV. We all drove down to my dad's for a visit on Saturday (where we stuffed ourselves silly on homemade pizza), and on Sunday morning, we took a fun hike in the woods where we found caves, giant rocks to climb, a turtle, a snake, chipmunks, and lots of gnats. 

It was a good week. Now, we're back to school and work - and counting the weeks until our end-of-summer vacation.