December 31, 2011 – Endless Late October

It has indeed been an endless late October this so-called winter.  Here  we are at New Year’s Eve.

This afternoon, for example, it was in the upper 50’s a far cry from the common sub-zero usually on this day.

Heck, we were even able to get laundry out on the line!

December 30, 2011 – Emma at Citrus Bowl

The Bobcat Band has spent the last couple of years raising money for a bowl trip. This year they went to Orlando for the Citrus Bowl. The following photo came from another band parent.

No doubt I’ll have more on Emma’s trip when she returns with her camera.

December 24, 2011 – New Kind of Christmas Dinner

With Emma heading off with the Bobcat band to play in Orlando and in the Citrus Bowl parade (corporate sponsor intentionally left off), we couldn’t spend as much time as usual in Minnesota. So we were home Christmas Eve and after sugar-high crash, we were craving something green and fresh.

Linda made some spring rolls from scratch for the first time. We’ll work on the rolling, but they were still yummy!

Then it was a wok full of stir-fry for the main course.

December 23, 2011 – Christmas Chaos

More than anything, family Christmas gatherings seem to be more chaos management than Silent Night. I won’t pull out the smiling children in front of a Christmas Tree now (that may be coming later).

This photo captures much in its ordinariness.  People gather around the appetizers in the kitchen while Martin receives instruction from his uncles regarding sound effect production.

Middle child often gets left out of family publications, so to make it up to her, I found her doing dishes while her siblings were off playing and having fun.  Great Christmas memories for Emma, for sure!

December 21, 2011 – The Days Once Again Lengthen!

Once again, the earth turns and the days will once again lengthen!  Tonight we had our annual bonfire/potluck to try to bring the light back.  After the fire, the house was crammed full of people yet again, probably somewhere between 80-100.

Linda Barnes

Linda with a candle not in the wind.  It was the warmest winter solstice in memory.

solstice bonfire

The bonfire fueled by the wreckage from this year’s windstorm, was one of the hottest and brightest ever.   There were some trunks 4 ft across that didn’t burn much, so will be a bast for next year’s fire.  Oh yeah, and we still have three more piles from the storm sitting in wait – we might have to increase the party occasions to get rid of them all.

December 12, 2011 – Team Mu? First Lego League Shines Again!

The following is from the school website  (I don’t have to write today!)

Lenihan’s FIRST LEGO League team took the overall championship at the regional contest held Saturday, Dec. 10, at Marshalltown Community College. The win advances the team to the state competition Jan. 14, 2012, at Iowa State University.

Lenihan’s Extended Learning Program team won the overall Championship, in a field of 32 Central Iowa teams, by earning the highest combined scores in all four competition categories: Robot Challenge, Technical Interview, Research Presentation, and FLL Core Values.

The 2011-2012 FLL theme is “Food Factor”. Throughout the fall semester, the team has researched milk production and possible bacterial contamination points. Based on this research, the students wrote a project presentation, designed an innovative solution to the contamination problem, and compiled an annotated bibliography of their research sources.

Work on the robot challenge included completing advanced programming tutorials, constructing three robot prototypes and their final robot design, and programming multiple missions using LEGO MINDSTORM software. The students incorporated a light sensor and ultrasonic sensor to input data for an autonomous program as well as utilized a third motor to operate their forklift, fishing net, catch basin, and bumper attachments.

The team will face 72 qualifying teams Jan. 14 at the ISU College of Engineering. More than 200 teams competed at regional competitions across the state.


December 11, 2011 – What do They Have in Common?

What do the following people have in common?

They all met Claire at an “event” in a 37th floor penthouse in downtown Minneapolis!  A few days before the event, the chair of the Political Science department at Macalester College asked if she could provide the name of a handful of students who might want to attend.  Claire was picked and got to meet Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, Minnesota Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, Iowa Congressional challenger Christi Vilsack, Former VP Mondale, and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback.

Claire enjoyed it immensely and in a debriefing with her professor the next day, she told Claire, “I’ve never seen a student work a room like you.”

The next day she received a call from the Governor’s office inviting her to interview in two days for an internship and by Friday she had the new internship.  Her schedule is now set for a bit – Spring semester she has the internship in the Governor’s Office and her work-study internship in the Children’s Museum.  She’s lucky to have two of her classes at night, so she has time during the day for these experiences.  This summer is also set, as she’ll be back in Secretary Vilsack’s office in DC as she was last summer.

December 10, 2011 – December Mushrooms!

Even though we’ve had some days in the single digits, the mushrooms are still producing!

With this December harvest, that means for 2011, we have harvested something from the farm every month but January! We had an early sap run the last day of February and have harvested something every month since then.  The bounty is amazing!