Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Noon Hour

Here is what was going on during the noon hour at our home today.

12:06  L Reading with Tut

12:10  B Practicing Cello

12:37  V & E Checking out Our New Garden Cat

12:39  Jake Eating Broccoli

12:47  Jake Playing Piano

12:51  L Practicing Math Facts with Tut

12:52  B Eating Breadsticks (which he made)

12:54  E Practicing Piano

12:59  Viva Washing Her Hands
(Time was up. It was this photo or no photo.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Amber Hunting!

On Memorial Day we joined with two rock clubs to hunt for amber in the coal fields near Wishbone Hill near Sutton. We have wanted to join a rock club hunting trip for a couple of years now, but our schedule never works with theirs or we don't have the proper equipment (ATVs).

All five of the children wanted to go amber hunting. (Full disclosure: Evan started to back out of the trip the night before, but I reminded him that he'd get iPad time on the ride up and the ride back and that the snacks were awesome, too.) Opa and I took the grandchildren because we like rock hunting with them.

The Wishbone Hill area is in a huge coal field (Matanuska Coal Field) and it was mined at some point in the past. I think the hill we hunted on must have been created during the mining process--it was a tall pile of black gravel-size pieces of coal. The key to finding amber was to get down really low. The kids crouched, but most of the adults just laid down on the hill and closely examined  a small area looking for a glow, a glint of light hitting the clear amber.

Some areas were rich in amber and a hunter could quickly find ten, twenty, or more pieces of amber in a couple of square feet. Other areas the hunting was sparse and the finds were few and far between. The first hour I collected one piece, but later in the afternoon I found a good spot and collected twenty or more in a just ten minutes. The pieces of amber on the coal pile are small. Most of the pieces we collected were 3-6 ml in size (roughly in the shape of sphere or a slab or a drop). A pea size piece of amber was a great find (Jake found two) and the biggest piece of the day was two peas large (another family found that gem).

At the end of the afternoon (three to four hours) most of us had a small 1 dram (3/4 teaspoon) vial filled with amber. Bentley had two vials. Lincoln had a half vial and Evan had 14 small pieces. He spent most of the day picking up coal. I find it best to let the little rock hounds hunt for what they want. That makes them happy, which makes me happy.

In addition to collecting amber we chipped off a few fossils from some larger rocks (Viva damaged her finger because she wasn't wearing gloves) and we hacked away at a large petrified log sitting in the open. (Our rock club buddies told us there are lots of petrified logs that were dug up during the coal mining process, but many of them were later reburied to preserve them.)

We asked the kids how the rate the trip (1-10) and four of them instantly gave it a 10. Evan was not so generous. He said 0 because at the time we asked we were driving back and he was waiting his turn for the iPad. He seemed to enjoy most of the hunt, it was only in the last hour that he started to lag, and, quite frankly, at that point Opa was lagging, too. The rest of us wanted to stay and hunt some more because we were finding good patches, but we agreed to quit the field.

Some of Evan's good finds (large pieces of coal) ended up in this puddle.

There were ten to fifteen others on the hill with us, but this photo is of Opa, Bentley, Viva, Lincoln & Jake.

Evan is coal hunting at this point in the day--hunting for coal on a coal hill. He'd sometimes shout "I found a big piece!" and we'd all stop in envy until we realized he meant a big piece of coal.

Hunting, Hunting, Hunting

The quintet sitting on a petrified log.

Opa helping Evan hack off a piece of the log.

The hill wasn't this steep, but it felt like it at times!!

This is a dram bottle. 
I think it's my bottle after I've washed the amber to help it shine better.

There are way too many photos of Evan in this mix, but as the youngest I was keeping the closest watch on him. Lincoln is a delightful but quiet kid and he slips under the radar. I regret that I didn't get a better shot of him.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Arrival of the King

King Tut, newest member of the household 

Kara took Lincoln and Evan to Michigan last week to meet their great-grandparents. (Hopefully she will post on that trip soon!) On the way home she delayed her time at SeaTac airport to pick up a new kitten.

The plain fact of the matter is two cats was not enough cats for our family of nine. The kids were always arguing over who gets to play with the cats or sleep with the cats. As for the adults, other than Kara (who Thea bonded with), we get little to no cat time at all!

The obvious solution was to get another cat (or two?). We have loved having Thea the Bengal in our home this past year but she's just not as friendly as a Siamese. She's very independent and somewhat dangerous to play with--she's fast and goes all in (i.e. uses claws) when playing.

We opted for a more child friendly cat this time around. We defaulted to our family's tradition--Siamese. We chose a cinnamon lynx point Siamese. Cinnamon means he has light reddish brown markings on a white coat and lynx points means as Tut ages he will acquire well-defined stripes around his eyes, cheeks, and legs as well as a ringed tail. As he ages, his body will gain stripes, too. 

In keeping with our family tradition for Siamese kittens, we gave our new kitten a name from Egyptian royalty: King Tut. Of course, we just call him Tut. Here a few photos of Tut getting to know the family:

Tut is very long legged. 

He really likes to purr which we all love! 

 He likes to cuddle. 

 Tut is patient! 

 He's a great schoolwork buddy! 

 Tut loves long skirts to hide in. 
See the rings (like a lynx) on his tail? 

Tut with Grandpa Mark