hot or cold lunch?

Did you have cold or hot lunch in elementary school?

This is a question I've asked lots of people over the years. It's always fun to hear the answer because it's usually followed by a story. "I always had tortilla chips, never potato chips!" mentioned a cold luncher. And from the opposite side, " I couldn't stand the hot lunch chicken fried steak." The stories I've heard are always entertaining and the data I've collected (very carefully in my memory that is) is very intriguing really.

Most, if not all, people I've questioned had cold lunch. This surprised me. I mean, I grew up having hot lunch every day, never cold lunch. I cannot remember a time I brought lunch to school and ate it in the cafeteria and that is because I never did. But boy, how I wanted cold lunch. I mean, I wanted the juice boxes, the Fruit by the Foot, the chips, and the E.L Fudge cookies, oh, how I wanted them. But that isn't a surprise, right?

But wait, it is! Come to find out, the people who had cold lunch wanted hot lunch. Really? I was surprised by the facts once again. "Oh, how I wanted the pizza," one person mentioned. And another, "You guys got chocolate milk!"

True, the hot lunch meal did have great rolls which, at my weakest point, I bartered for sandwiches. I later learned that this was foolish. Those rolls were warm and fluffy and better than any pb&j. I'm sure the same could be said for those with cold lunch and their Gushers fruit snacks. Isn't it interesting that even at 9 years old we're victim to "the grass is always greener on the other side" mentality?

Do I do this now? Of course. And there are many days that I've got to step back, see the bigger picture, and let myself enjoy the hot lunch. I mean, not only did we get chocolate milk, at one point the school was offering Root Beer milk.

Do you ever wish your lunch was a different temperature?


Piano Horn (2 instruments in 1!)

I got this toy for Oliver the other day because he is very much into instruments (he loves the violin, the bassoon, the trombone, the saxophone, the piano). However, I find that Jess and I are using it a lot more than he. One afternoon as I was "practicing" Praise to the man (the hymn book is the only sheet music I have in the house, that and the Messiah), I had to remind myself to share, as Oliver really wanted to play it. And one morning Jess, looking like the pied piper and dancing a jig, produced some sophisticated chords with a great beat that made us laugh. After he finished his production, Oliver reached for the horn. The pied piper acquiesced and Oliver played a couple of grand notes with a lot of gusto.

We are working on learning to share in this house, all three of us.


bp's science: an apple in a bush a day (v.1)

apple core in hand, [enjoying the cherry blossoms, spring 2010]

This past weekend as we were out at a park, I ate ate an apple and threw the core in the bushes.

Are you surprised/shocked that I did that? If so, I'm sorry, because I do it all of the time. I grew up throwing my apple cores out of the car window while riding 70 mph up Parley's. A bush is no big deal.

When Jess was finished with his apple this weekend, I offered to throw his in the bushes. He hesitated, "What if everyone threw their core in the bushes?" I paused . . . he had a point. If everyone did it, there would be piles and piles of apples in the bushes. But then I looked around, I couldn't find anyone at the park eating apples. I saw lots of pizza boxes and juice pouches and crackers, but no apples. Plus --and here's where this post gets semi-scientific-- it only takes an apple 20 days to biodegrade. You got that right, 20 days.

Now if I had thrown a plastic bottle (100 years to biodegrade) or a glass jar (4000 years) in the bushes, then that's when this gets serious. However, come August 13th, that apple will be gone.

And with that great argument for throwing apple cores in the bushes, I may just start throwing them off our umpteenth floor balcony window. Nah, of course not, there are some times when apples belong in the trash (or in one of these).

biodegrading figures from The Dorling Kindersley Visual Encyclopedia.


Cutting Back

I just can't take the pull of the computer anymore. I don't like that it's on all day and I feel like I need to check it every 20 minutes for a new email message or a new blog post. I plan to take one hour each day and do my email/blog thing and then be done. So that's what I'm doing, we'll see how long it lasts. Good bye internet for today...until, that is, I need to buy some plane tickets this evening.

Who's with me on this? Anyone feel like the pull of the computer drains them? Maybe I'm the only one, but I'm taking a break regardless.


bp's science: blueberries (a favorite around here) (v.1)

A few weeks ago we picked blueberries. It was a beautiful day and perfect for picking.

What makes blueberries blue? Apparently it's pigment full of antioxidants called anthocyanin. And what is it exactly that antioxidants do? Because our body undergoes lots of wear and tear, free radicals or oxidants are given off causing aging due to cell death. Antioxidants stop the reaction of oxidation by being oxidized themselves (rather than molecules in the cell being oxidized).

Thanks antioxidants, thanks blueberries. And if you want more antioxidants, keep eating those fruits, vegetables, and even spices with deep color.

p.s. that is indeed a beach sand bucket we used to hold our blueberries.



I read to Oliver, age 7 months

Jess reads to Oliver (and Oliver says "bubbles" for B), age 16 months

Jess reads to Oliver, age 25 months

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a mother [and father] who read to me.

Strickland Gillilan, "The Reading Mother", addition is mine


Okay, so this is neat

Saw this video this morning as I was sorting through the internet world via blogs.

"It's a bird, it's a plane," but wait, it's both.


bp's science: spinach, the superfood (v.1)

When I was a kid I most definitely did not like spinach. We usually ate it from a frozen 5 by 4 inch rectangular box, and by the time it was cooked, it seemed so slimey and unappetizing. It was one of those foods that, as a kid, you'd take one bite and then wash it down with lots of milk. And then you'd do that over and over again until the food was gone and you were filled with 1/4 cup spinach and a quart of milk. I did this not only with spinach, but also with lima beans and beets. But I digress.

Now this dislike for the stuff stuck around for a good long time, until adulthood when I discovered fresh baby spinach. Ahh, the goodness. Very delicious and refreshing. This was a whole new world of spinach. Now we have fresh stuff in our refridgerator most of the time.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when I discovered our very own "spinach bandit" stealing my spinach salad one evening at dinner.

He ate half of my plate. He calls it "spinach sal(ad)" and "leaves". It's pretty cool to eat leaves, right?

Now as you know, spinach is considered a superfood. Yes, that term is thrown around a lot these days, and it is not specifically defined, but I like to think of it as anything that's got lots of good nutrients in it. Spinach is filled with vitamins (A, C, D, folate) plus some iron and lots o' antioxidants. Plus it is versatile. You can throw it in savory or sweet salads, shakes, and even (as my sister made for me one wonderful afternoon) peanut butter and jam sandwiches.


Lands' End Canvas, Wahoo!

Ever since my brother-in-law and sister started working at Lands' End, I have been a fan. I never dabbled in it before, but it wasn't hard to become a fan. And I have become even more of a fan because the company began Lands' End Canvas. This hip extension of the brand has very cool stuff that is just my style. It's great quality and there is always a good sale. There's another thing I am a fan of, a good sale. Put the two together and you get:

3 pairs of pants for 9.99 each, yes, I said three (plus a pair of Jeans for Jess for 9.99!)
a swimsuit for 26 bones
a sweater for 16 dollars cash money
a skirt for under 20 bucks that can go with anything

Plus, I hear the customer service is above and beyond and they'll take anything back at any time (does that remind anyone of Nordstrom (minus the cosmetics counter)?). If you're in the mood for a stylish steal, I'd recommend it.

Do you like how I used all of those phrases for money? Bones, dollars, bucks, cash. And because of that, I end the post with the phrase, "and some change".


bp's science: the color of fireworks (v.1)

Oliver and I watch fireworks over the Potomac, 2010

So how was the fireworks show you saw last night? Because we live in a tall building, we went to the roof (our celebration was low-key this year) and got to enjoy at least 9 different firework shows, including the one downtown. We could see the Washington Memorial all lit up, it was fantastic really.

So what gives fireworks their color? The answer is metal salts. In chemistry terms, salts are compounds created from the reaction of an acid and a base (table salt is sodium (Na from a base), chloride (Cl from an acid), NaCl). Different salts give off different colors. See the chart I found here below.

Color Compound
Red strontium salts, lithium salts
lithium carbonate, Li2CO3 = red
strontium carbonate, SrCO3 = bright red
Orange calcium salts
calcium chloride, CaCl2
calcium sulfate, CaSO4·xH2O, where x = 0,2,3,5
Gold incandescence of iron (with carbon), charcoal, or lampblack
Yellow sodium compounds
sodium nitrate, NaNO3
cryolite, Na3AlF6
Electric White white-hot metal, such as magnesium or aluminum
barium oxide, BaO
Green barium compounds + chlorine producer
barium chloride, BaCl+ = bright green
Blue copper compounds + chlorine producer
copper acetoarsenite (Paris Green), Cu3As2O3Cu(C2H3O2)2 = blue
copper (I) chloride, CuCl = turquoise blue
Purple mixture of strontium (red) and copper (blue) compounds
Silver burning aluminum, titanium, or magnesium powder or flakes

So there you have it, the presence of barium makes green, copper makes blue, strontium makes red. And when you mix copper and strontium salts together, you've got purple. Pretty cool.

And if you didn't get your firework fix from yesterday, take a look at this interesting NOVA video concerning the color of fireworks. It's interesting stuff.


Happy 4th

Happy Fourth of July to all of you. May we remember the blessings of independence and the people who made it possible.

Living in the location where we do, we get to be amongst some of the soldiers who are recovering from wounds suffered because of the current conflict. Each time we interact with them, I am amazed at their upbeat-ness and positive attitude and I am grateful for their service.

Yesterday, we were able to hear many people speak about their love for this country. Many of whom were not born in America nor are they citizens, yet they spoke of the equality and the opportunity this country provides. It's neat to hear about the country from this perspective.

May you enjoy the fireworks, the barbeques, the time with family. And with the risk of sounding cliche, God Bless the USA.


Birthday and brothers

This past week we were having a lot of fun at our house (so much so that there was no bp's science this week. Anyone notice? Jo?). We were lucky enough to have great visitors, and fun birthdays, and brotherly wrestling matches, plus some site seeing was thrown into the mix. Oh yeah, and we spent a lot of time with sunglasses too. Did I mention how much Oliver loves sunglasses?

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law came to visit and it was a grand time. I certainly talked their ears off I tell you, and they graciously obliged. Such conversation does wonders for me. I can't tell you how much I enjoy a good family visit and this was no exception. Made our June for sure.

And we got to celebrate two birthdays! Yep, that's right, these brothers have very close birthdays and it was fun to celebrate with them both. Cheers!

After taking a little detour to get to Mount Vernon, we had a great time. George Washington sure had an stunning view of the Potomac. I was having so much fun I forgot to eat. I know I'm enjoying things when that happens.

And then we got to visit Annapolis, which is always a pleasure. Oliver beat the heat by playing in the water fountain. In fact, he was ready to jump in (to tell you the truth, I think we all were - it was hot). Plus, this time I didn't forget my I.D. I am just catching onto the fact that one should never forget his/her I.D. when visiting any military location, never.

After the week long stay was over, Oliver was ready to get on the airplane with his aunt and uncle when they left. We were sad to see them go, but we loved having them! Thanks for coming out guys!