Archive for October, 2012

Mark Learns about Litmus Paper

So on the second day home from school thanks to Sandy, I figured it was about time for them to do SOMETHING other than play the Wii.  So I got out the Magic School Bus Chemistry Set.

We were up to experiment #18.  Testing things with litmus paper.  You mix up baking soda and water, test it, then test whatever in the household strikes your fancy.

We test lemon juice.  Ketchup.  Soda pop. Milk.

Mark (sighing):  “I wish someone was bleeding.  Then we could test the BLOOD.”

Me:  “We are NOT damaging someone just to get you some blood.”  (thinking, trying to come up with bodily substances he could test without injury.  “Spit.  You could test your spit.”

Mark:  “Awesome!”  (proceeds to begin hacking into a bowl).

“Or,” I hear myself say, “you could test your pee.”

Mark’s eyes are half-dollar huge.  This is, clearly, THE BEST IDEA EVER.

“Okay,” I say.  “Let me get a disposable cup.”  When I turn back, he’s (ahem) ready.  Elastic-waist pants = not always such a good idea.  I lunge and get the cup in place in the nick of time.  The supply vastly outstrips the demand.

That poor litmus paper.

“I pee acid,” he concludes, deeply impressed.


The Chicken is Involved. The Actor is Committed.

So Kate and I went to see ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’

Once again Stanley feeds the wonderfully loathsome dentist to the Audrey II.

Kate (appalled):  “Um.  He didn’t REALLY chop him up, did he?”

Me (misunderstanding the level of reality about which she was asking):  “Oh, yeah.”

Kate stares at the stage,  aghast.  Finally I get it.

Me:  “Not the actor.  Not REALLY.  That’s pretend body parts.”

Kate (much relieved):  “Oh.  Whew.”

Kate and Mark Play “Car Talk”

Mark:  “Ring, ring.”

Kate:  “Hello, you’re on Car Talk.”

Mark:  “Hi.  Um, I have this problem with my car.  I need to drive it but I got bit by a vampire bat and now I am a HIDEOUS MONSTER.”

Sid the Science Kid shoves Click and Clack out of the chair.

Kate:  “Vampire bats don’t bite people.  They eat mosquitoes and other bugs.”

Mark:  “Did I say vampire bat?  I meant a radioactive spider…that LOOKED like a vampire bat.  Anyway I need to DRIVE.  I need the potion to turn me back into a human again.”

Kate:  “Can’t you buy it online?”


Kate:  “Vampire bats are actually very intelligent.”

Mark:  “I need to drive to buy my medicine.  I need a disguise.  People will FREAK OUT if they see me behind  the wheel.”

Kate:  “Just don’t drive like my brother.”



So Mark’s been obsessed with the idea of being a Cub Scout for a year now.  No clue why.  He’s not old enough to remember Paul’s time as a Boy Scout, I don’t think.  Maybe one of the other kids in the neighborhood’s been filling his ear with the Wonders of Boy Scouting.  I don’t know.

This last weekend was the first camping trip. It was family camping, so Kate came too.  All in all, given the number of years it’d been since I’d camped, it went fairly well.  Well enough.  It turned out good in the end.

It became obvious when we set up the tent that Paul hadn’t put it away properly last time.  When we unfolded it, it smelled like something had died in there.  EXACTLY like decaying mouse, actually, a stench I know well thanks to our household felines.  I’m hoping it’s just a smell caused by the tent not being completely dry when put away.  But if there WAS a dead mouse in there it did me the eternal favor of either staying hidden or flinging its little corpse away when we were setting the tent up.  I have a serious paranoia about things getting stuck in my hair, and kept waking up, inhaling the stench, and hoping I wasn’t going to find a rotting mousy body in my braid in the morning.

That recurring nightmare alternated with waking up to trains, coyotes, and worries about freezing to death.  I think a train went by every hour.

Me (hearing train):  “Oh my god!  How CLOSE are those tracks?  Are Mark and Kate still here?  Can’t left them go to the bathroom alone.  What #%* put a campground this close to railroad tracks?”

Coyotes took turns with the trains.  I grew up on a farm, used to hearing coyotes, so the possibilities took a little longer to sink in.

Me (after several minutes of howling):  “Wait…that’s coyotes.  Wait…we’re OUTSIDE.  Are Mark and Kate still here?  Can’t left them go to the bathroom alone!  Will coyotes come near a campground??”

Then it got much, much colder that night than the forecast had called for.  Lying bastards.  51 degrees, they said.  It had to be in the lower 40s or upper 30s.  Kate and I were both in sleeping bags rated to 40 degrees.

Kate:  “Are you cold?”

Me:  “Yeah.  Cuddle close.  We’ll keep each other warm.”

Mark (in the only 30 degree sleeping bag):  “Snnnrkkk!”

By morning Kate and I were so close another two people could’ve fit in our four person tent with laughable ease.


5 AM:

Kate:  “I need to go to the bathroom.”

Me (forgetting trains and coyotes in my hypothermic sleep-deprivation):  “Here’s a flashlight.”

Later that morning the pack went on a hike.  A mile long hike.  Half a mile down the C&O trail, half a mile back.

Kate:  “My feet hurt.”

Me:  “After such a little hike?”

Kate:  “You call a 113 mile hike LITTLE?”

Turns out we’d just passed the mile marker for the trail…which runs from Georgetown to Cumberland.


After the hike…

Me:  “Time to go explore Fort Frederick!”

The campground was in Fort Frederick state park.

Mark and Kate:  “Noooo….why would we want to go see an old fort?  Let’s go home and play the computer.”

Me:  “This fort’s 256 years old.  This is the closest to medieval we get in the US.  I’m not leaving until I see the fort.  Move it.”



Me:  “Kids, we REALLY have to go home.”

Mark and Kate:  “Ahhh.  Why?”

What happened was, there were 3 reenactors at the fort to pelt with questions and coax to FIRE MUSKETS.

Me (as we go to the car):  “Ya know, Mark, you had a really good time at the fort for someone who didn’t even want to go.”

Mark:  “I didn’t say that.”

Me:  “Yeah, you did.”

Mark:  “You must be imagining things.”

Breakfast Battles

I pass out vitamins.

Kate:  “Octopus.”

Mark:  “Drat!  Fish.”

I realize then…they’re imaging who’d win a cage match between their vitamin animals.

Mark (not willing to give up):  “A fish with a laser.”

Kate:  “Eight legs.  Octopus still wins.”

Mark:  “Hmph.”

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