Redefined- Operation Science Stuff

September 23, 2013

  It looks like I was on to something when I named this project Operation: Science Stuff.  After some more discussion with my friend at the high school, we've decided that the best focus for this should be...  science stuff!  The school could really use the equipment to do science. 
  Did you enjoy science class in high school?  Even for someone like me who loved science class, the lecture part was always boring.  I always looked forward to the experiments.  We would study cell structure under the microscope for biology, grow crystals in chemistry, measure velocity in physics, and locate the planets in astronomy.  These are all things that make science come alive- that show students that science is more than words on page and that can lead to careers in science. 
  You can help make a difference in a young person's life- help their teachers capture their imaginations with science and open up a whole new world for them.  Below is a wish list. 

Microscope x 2 $189.95 each
  (3-Lens LED Microscope)
Stereo Microscope x 2 $75.95 each
  (Stereo Microscope)
Microscope slides and cover slips
  Slides x 5 $22.50
  Covers x 3 $5.10
  Slide Storage Box x 5 $34.75
Droppers and bulbs
  Dropper x 24 $6.00
  Bulb x24 $18.50
Slide sets
  Biology  $35.95
  Botany  $35.95
  Anatomy  $41.95
Chemistry glassware
  Beakers (set of 5) x5 $19.95
  Erlenmeyer Flasks (set of 5) x5 $22.95
  Graduated Cylinders (set of 6) x5 $28.95
  Test tubes
     Small (pack of 6) x 5  $14.00
     Large  (pack of 2) x 15 $16.50
   Test tube holders x 3 $17.80
Metal spatulas x 5 $9.00
Wash Bottles x 5 $16.50
Thermometer x 10 $25.00
pH paper x 5 $8.50
Physics tools
  physics kit x 2 $125.90
Optics tools
  Lens Set $34.95
  Magnifying Glass x 5 $26.00
  Diffraction Grating x 5 $8.50
Astronomy Chart x 5 $24.75
Periodic Table $12.00

Operation: Science Stuff

September 19, 2013

  If I asked you to remember your first day of school, what comes to mind?  The excitement of a new year, new clothes, seeing friends, joining sports and clubs?  Do you remember sitting in class and receiving a text book for each subject?  If you're like me, you didn't think anything of it.  Maybe you flipped through it to see if you could tell who had it last, or maybe you just sighed at the thought of having to learn everything in it in one year.  I would guess that one thing is for sure for most of you reading this:  you had a text book, every year, for every class. 
  A friend has brought it to my attention that this isn't always the case at the Kwajalein Atoll High School and he's asked me for help to bring more textbooks into the school.  He says they specifically need sets of science text books, so I've set a goal of purchasing two 30-book sets and teacher guides to donate to the high school.  To make that possible, I'm starting Operation: Science Stuff.
  Why Science Stuff and not Science Books?  Because they don't just need text books, they could use a little bit of everything.  Do you remember the first time you looked through a microscope?  Wasn't it amazing to see all those tiny living things?  Let's bring that amazement, that joy to the students at Kwajalein Atoll High School. 
Earlier this year, I donated my telescope to the high school.  There was a full moon that evening and the kids were amazed to see it so clearly.
  How can you help?  There are so many ways you can help with Operation: Science Stuff!  The easiest one would be to donate money.  I've set up an account on Operation: Science Stuff and all money donated will be used to purchase books and science equipment. 
  Other ways to contribute:
-Contact your local high school to see if they have science text books or equipment they'd be willing to sell or donate.
-You can purchase items for the school yourself: science posters, chemistry kits, electronics kits, physics kits, magnifying glasses and boxes, anything that can help bring science alive for the students
-Do you already have something you'd like to donate?  Contact me for mailing info
-Do you have a high school student that is looking for a charitable project or service hours?  This would be a great way for them to connect with other students and to have a real and positive impact on the world.
  The young people attending Kwajalein Atoll High School are already doing something amazing- attending high school!  Let's help them get more out of their education and enable them to give back more to the Marshall Islands, with Operation: Science Stuff.

Teaching Third-Graders to Gamble

September 13, 2013

  Poor Lomodro and Merlynn!  It's Monday afternoon, school is over and the rest of their friends are off playing.  But not them.  No, they have to sit with their Auntie and do more school, practicing math and learning English.  That's right, I have some new students.  The WAM (Waan Aelon en Majel) canoe program hasn't started up a new class here on Ebeye yet, so instead of teaching 20 young men how to get a job, I'm teaching two third graders: my son's older brother and his cousin.
  In some ways, teaching Lomodro and Merlynn is a lot more challenging than teaching to the big WAM class.  The kids don't want to be there and are too little to see any incentive to do more studying after school.  And they speak almost no English, and my Marshallese isn't even close to being up for the task.  We're muddling through, and doing okay so far though.
  There is a lot of rote learning the Marshallese educational system (the class sizes are huge so there's not much else they can do), and I want to try to engage them and make it interesting.  At the end of our class last week, I brought out a pack of dice and a box of poker chips and taught the kids and Bubu to play "Ship, Captain, Crew", a gambling dice game (counting, numbers, memory skills, English communication- hurray for learning through games!).  The object of the game is to roll five dice and get a 6 (the ship), a 5 (the captain), and a 4 (the crew), in that order, in three rolls.  The other two dice are the "point" and the one with the highest "point" wins the round.  Everyone pays one chip each round to play and the one with the most chips at the end wins.  Bubu won last time but I think there's going to be some fierce competition this week!

Goodbye, Ms Florina

September 10, 2013

  Florina came over early yesterday morning to tell us that she had gotten a job at her children's school.  We knew that she was applying and I was ecstatic when she said that they'd hired her.  She'll be working as a teacher's helper at the JEM Christian School, one of the best elementary schools on Ebeye.  They are lucky to have her, just as we were lucky to have her in our lives.  She took faultless care of Fire, loved Sky even when she didn't listen, and looked out for D and I.  I'm glad to have her as my friend and hope we still see around.

Fire Goes to School

September 6, 2013

   Fire started at the daycare center on Tuesday, and boy, was he ready to go! He had been to school before, to drop Sky off and pick her up, so he knew where she was going when she left the house in the morning. He would cry every day when we left him behind and try to run after us as we rode away. When we dropped him off for his first day, he barely gave us a backward glance before running off to explore the class room.
   I know that you're probably wondering why we decided to send him to school when we were so happy to have Ms Florina stay with him every day. I wrestled with that myself, in part because putting him in school meant taking work away from Ms Florina. In the end, we decided to enroll Fire in school because he was ready, ready for more stimulation, ready for more socialization, and because we knew he would have fun there. He is in the same classroom that Sky was, with the wonderful Ms Carmen. She says that he's doing really well, is kind to his new friends, and that he's eating a lot at lunch time. At the end of the day, he's ready to go home and is a little clingier than usual but I think (I hope!) that will lessen when he settles into the new routine a bit more.
   Ms Florina still works for us, as a housekeeper now, two days a week. Our house is even shinier than usual, and we love that the kids still get to see her. She has applied for a job at her children's school on Ebeye as a classroom helper and we're really hoping she gets it- she's wonderful with children and would be an asset to any school.

Fire loves putting on his backpack every morning like his big sister
Off to school like a big boy

PS: Thanks for the new clothes, Nana Jo! The kids love them and they fit perfectly.

Happy House, part 1

September 5, 2013

  In my last post (Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes) I mentioned that D and I talk about moving to another house on Kwaj.  We live in a 1950's concrete block house with two bedrooms and one bathroom.  I think it's around 1000 square-feet total.  When we came back to Kwaj with our son, we were offered the chance to move into one of the dome houses on island but we turned it down.  Our current house is in a great location, a quiet street that's close to town and to the grocery store, with a huge back porch, and it suits us perfectly.  Some of the things I love about it: since it's small, it's easy to clean; it has just the right amount of storage, and since the kids' bedroom is small, they play in the living room most of the time so I know if they're getting into something. 
  Of course, there are things I don't like about the house and that's why I've started my Happy House project.  Lately I'm feeling very convicted by this book and inspired by this blog, so I'm trying to find a happy medium between the two to help me be happier with where I live now. 
  Some things I'd like to change about the house:

Stair treads (currently black sand paper that collect every hair and every piece of dirt and are impossible to clean).  I think I've found some carpet ones on amazon for a good price that would be easier on our feet and much easier to clean.

 Bathroom storage (or lack thereof).  There's one cabinet in the corner of the bathroom but the top is full of bathroom stuff (nail polish, band-aids, and all that) and the bottom is full of cat food right now.  I bought a little rack and made the blue cloth drape earlier this year:
 but it's already starting to look worn.  I have a friend on island who is (hopefully) going to build me a cabinet to go under and around my sink.  If it works out, we would double our usable storage space and gain almost 7 inches of counter space- that may not sound like much but seven is a lot more than zero!

 Our dining table and chairs:  blah!  They are functional but boring.  We tried table cloths (which got pulled off)  and place mats (which were distracting and also got pulled off).  I'm rolling around the idea of painting the table legs white, painting the table top with chalkboard paint, and getting slip covers for the chairs (so much dried food gets into the cracks in these chairs!).  This one's a work in progress...

The pantry and refrigerator doors:  Always messy!  These are my favorite place to have photos of family and friends and they're also my "command center" with calendars, menus, shopping lists, and phone numbers.  With all that in a small space, it just looks so cluttered.  
 After a few days of brainstorming and seeing this post on Millions of Miles (love, love, love her blog!), I stopped at the store on the way home from work yesterday, picked up a few things and turned my cluttered spaces into this:
 I'm surprised at how well it turned out and it makes me happy just to look at it.
A few months ago, I moved all our cookbooks to the top of the fridge, so now they're right where we need them (and they hide some of the things stored on top of the fridge).   I moved the calendar to the fridge, along with a notepad for groceries, both held up with bulldog clips and command hooks, all backed by a pretty piece of wrapping paper. 

The paper isn't cut as straight as I would have liked (for some reason, it's hard to cut straight when kids are helping...) and it's only taped on to the door, but the overall effect is just what I was looking for.  I got rid of all the old (weak) magnets and moved all the pictures to the pantry door.  The only extras on the fridge now are the phone lists and some quick cleaning tips (and a lobstah!)

I save photo Christmas cards all year long, along with other things that make me happy, like my friend's wedding invitation and another friend's adoption announcement.  I put up another piece of wrapping paper and hung all these, along with all the family pictures from the fridge, on the pantry door.
I couldn't find the fishing line I'd hoped to use so I used cooking twine instead and I think it looks really good.  The twine is tacked to the door and the pictures are hooked on with paper clips
The whole project took less than an hour to do and the supplies cost less than $5.  I'm so glad that this first part of my Happy Home project turned out so well.  I can't wait to tackle the other parts of my house that could use some more happy!


September 4, 2013

  D likes to say that he and I are stress junkies and he's probably right.  When we're right in the middle of something hard, we'll say that we're not happy and want some calm and quiet, but really, we thrive on challenges and changes.  This is the first year since we were married that we haven't made a major change in our lives- and we've been married for six years!  Let's review:

got married (nothing stressful about that, right?!)
 I worked in Antarctica for most of the year.  D finished his engineering degree and moved to Roi
I worked in Antarctica for half of the year and then moved to Roi
We decided to start a family, D got laid off and then got rehired, and we moved to Kwaj
This beautiful little girl joined our family
This sweet boy became our son
  That's a pretty busy five years, by anyones count.  This year, no one has moved, no one has changed jobs, and we haven't grown our family.  Our only trip so far this year was one back to the states in December/January.  Since then, we've stayed put and just lived our lives here and I think it's been good for us to just "be" for a little bit.  Sky has really thrived this year with a regular routine and with fewer stresses for D and I, we've been more available for her, and for Fire, as he's started to develop his own personality.  We still talk about moving to another house on Kwaj, we still talk about moving away from Kwaj, we still talk about growing our family, but for now, staying put and "being" feels like where we need to be right now.
  We're still working through the every-day challenges: we're dealing with some fall-out from my trip from both kids, and Fire has started full time at the daycare, which has it's own ups and downs.  My dad flies back to the States soon and just about the time that the kids get settled back into a normal life, D will be leaving for his kite boarding vacation. It's always something but life will be calm at the center of the storm, for this year at least.

Problem Solved!

September 3, 2013

    I was never able to figure out which cat was doing it, but almost every night for the longest time, the toilet paper roll was getting torn up and strewn all over the bathroom.  We tried covering it with a towel, putting it on the toilet tank or on the sink and nothing helped.  I looked all over the internet but couldn't find a good solution that would work for us.  When I reorganized the bathroom about a month ago, I had a small basket that I didn't need any more and the idea of using it to hold the toilet paper popped into my head. 
  Friends, sometimes (okay, rarely), I am a genius!  It has worked beautifully.  The cats haven't bothered it at all.  The paper is right next to the toilet so Sky can reach it by herself, and it's not interesting enough to Fire for him to try and play with it.  An all- around win!  Now, how to keep the cats out of the paper towels...

Grandpa Ken and the Kids

September 2, 2013

  Before my dad came to visit, we did a mantra with Sky about him.  It usually went something like this: 
Us: "Grandpa Ken is coming to visit.  What's he going to do when he gets here?"
Sky: "Tickle me!  And then I going to run away."
Us: "What else will Grandpa do?"
Sky: "Tickle me.  And read books"

That's about how it's gone, a bunch of tickling, some reading, and some running away (and a little Ipod time).
Our Charmed Life. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.