Dino Bites

Dino Bites

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Water Museum

By Kayanna Kendrick

A gray sky complete with drizzle. What a perfect day to visit a museum devoted to water. Complete with several fountains, a timeline, a "cave", and a virtual roller coaster, Source-O-Rama in Chaudfontaine is amazing.

The water in Chaudfontaine bubbles up from hot springs (hence the name, Chaudfontaine means "Hot Fountain"in French.) Water that they package in water bottles today in their factory fell to the Earth as precipitation 60 years ago. They explained that this happened because the water seeps into the ground and joins with underground rivers and other sources of water below the Earth. the water travels down 1,600 meters to temperatures of about 55 degrees Celsius and very high pressure. Then it comes back up to the surface after a very long time underground. Then it gets packaged and drunk, but that's another system. The virtual roller coaster followed this journey, everything from evaporation to packaging. You even get to go down a stalactite and a waterfall. It was funny, because Abe was complaining for almost the entire thing, while BJ wanted to go on it again.

There was a tunnel that explained clouds, tornadoes, tsunamis, and the difference between cascades and streams. First was the clouds. The sound effects weren't very loud and the information useful. The lights were nice too. The storm section had claps of thunder and roofs being torn off for sound effects and flashes of fake lightning from the ceiling. Poor Abe was terrified and ran from that part. The facts were very cool. The last section of the tunnel was much better. Soothing sounds of waterfalls and burbling streams with calm lighting and useful information.

There was a fake cave after that with really fascinating facts about types of underground water. I couldn't read it all before it was time to leave that section though. I'm told that there was a life-size bat, but I was otherwise occupied.

Then a room came up that showed how much water each person uses per day on the wall. There were several countries on the wall. South Africa used the least and the USA used the most. Next to that was a display showing how much water was in what objects. In addition to a few fruits and vegetables, they showed a T-Shirt and shorts, jeans, and other bizarre items that I thought had no water at all contained within.

The finale was a beautifully choreographed fountain. They played music and the fountain would spurt water in time to the music. Sometimes, the water would almost hit the lights above. Behind the fountain, a screen showed a projection of their mascot (a raindrop) playing the fountain like an orchestra.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ardennes American Cemetery

This morning we took a trip to the Ardennes American Cemetery near our house.  Although it is named the Ardennes, we learned that it is not the burial place of many soldiers from the Battle of the Bulge.  It is the resting place of 5,323 soldiers.  Many of these served in the Air Force.

Looking from the monument toward the flagpole

It wasn't easy to get the kids settled for a picture around the flagpole.
All the flowers pictured here are arrangements placed by various
cities and organizations, including Li├Ęge.


Looking from the flagpole back toward the monument.

Among these graves, there are 11 sets of brothers buried side by side.

It was a sobering experience.  The most amazing thing is that this is just one of many American cemeteries in the world.

If you want more information, you can check out the link at Ardennes American Cemetery.

Volcano

For science this week, we made a baking soda and vinegar volcano.



Home school is going well.  We are getting into the groove.  It still takes tons of time, but I'm getting faster at preparing for each day.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Adventures Close to Home

I'm sorry I haven't blogged much lately.  With the kids doing lots of home school on all the available computers, it's hard for me to get a turn.  When I do, I'm often preparing their lessons for the next day.

Home school is going quite well.  I have found lots of great resources online.  Some days are better than others, of course.  As I'm sure others have noted, the best thing about home school is that my kids are with me all the time.  The worst thing is that my kids are with me all the time.  I love having them around, but it is harder to get the "me" time that's so important to my emotional well-being. (Although I think it was easy to fall into the trap of having too much "me" time and not playing with and teaching them as much as I should have.)  But I digress.

This week for science with the boys, we took a 5 Senses Walk to the woods nearby.  We didn't taste anything, but it was wonderful to take time to hear, smell, touch, and feel so many things.  We took a few pictures of our discoveries.  The funniest was the empty snail shell we brought home.


Which, it turned out, wasn't really empty.

The pictures don't do it all justice, of course.  That's the point of exploring with all your senses.  The open seed pods above are amazingly velvety inside, and the green leaves had a lovely scent.  I tried to find if they were any herb regularly used in cooking, but I didn't find it.  I'll have to keep looking.

Three happy explorers: Sarah, BJ, Abraham


Yesterday we spent a lot of time with our neighbor and landlord.  He showed the kids all around the garage where he now lives (he rented the house because it is really big for 1 person).  One of the biggest hits was this contraption that he uses to break up apples and greens into smaller portions for the sheep:

He made the children wait outside while he fed the sheep initially so they wouldn't get run over when the sheep came in.  It was really neat to see them all when he called them.  The pen was empty, but when he called them, they came very quickly.  I understood the idea of sheep knowing a shepherd's voice in a whole new way.


Watching him feed the sheep

After the initial stampede, we entered the pen and then the pasture, hand feeding them when they would let us.

He is slicing an apple in half so the kids can feed the sheep.

Again I noted the importance of the shepherd.  They were scared to approach us, even if we held food, unless we were near their shepherd.  Then they came much more easily.

I love living in the fresh air.  Feeding the sheep was fun, although I'm thinking that if the kids do it much, they'll each need a pair of shoes just for the sheep pasture.  We went for a drive in the evening, and the smell of sheep lingered in the car a little too much.

Speaking of which, I better go clean some shoes.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Franchimont Again

Last Saturday we took the kids to see the ruined castle at Franchimont.  They're the same ruins Ben and I went to in May.  Getting there was an adventure in itself.  There was some sort of race blocking the normal entrance, so we had to find a back way.  Part of the experience at the castle is going down into the old bunkers.

On our way out of the bunker.  Ben took a picture of the group above him:
Abe, BJ, and Sarah 
 He took another picture of the group below him:
Molly, Robin, and Kayanna

There are 5 of these bunkers.  As we tried to go down to the second one, we ran into the racers again.  Apparently they had opened the gate at the bottom, and the race course ran up through the bunker and stairs and through the castle!  There was also a wedding party happening in the old courtyard.

I think Sarah's favorite part was the gift store.

The castle from the parking lot

The kids were eating a snack in the car and didn't want to get a picture with the castle.



Kayanna

Ben & Robin

Monday, September 8, 2014

The "Mexican" Restaurant

Post by Ben today.

I love Mexican Food. The taco cart on the corner of 800 South and State in Salt Lake is a wonderful place. Lorena's was the first place that I went to after getting back from my mission and I go whenever I can. Due to the heavy involvement of cheese in most Mexican places, and given Robin's current issues with dairy proteins, Mexican Food has been less of staple in my restaurant diet.  Now I know that authentic Mexican is not necessarily what one gets in most of the restaurants, but I love a lot of the home made Mexican that many of my neighbors have shared. The tamales, tostadas, and even the soups with the odd meats floating in them have a certain "Sabor a la Mexicana"

Since I have been living in Berleur (mid June), I have driven past a restaurant called "Fiesta." The sign outside says "Mexican Restaurant and BBQ." Robin and I decided to try it out Friday night on our date night. I was craving good Mexican food.

When we went in, I noticed a distinct lack of any of the typical scents that I would associate with good Mexican. There was not the tang of salsa, the bite of acidic tomatoes, or the odor of pungent spices that might suggest anything resembling heat. There was no smell of the corn tortillas, either from a package or on a griddle. I was suspicious. The manager explained (In English) that this was an all inclusive buffet with a hot and cold buffet and a BBQ at the table. I thought this odd for Mexican, but being hungry and adventurous, we paid the entrance and he showed us to our seats. He did highlight that all of the Sangria and wines were included. Oh, Joy.

The food encountered at these buffets had absolutely nothing in common with anything that I would associate with the words "Mexican Food." We could get some chopped meat and vegetables fried for us on a large griddle with some seasonings that consisted mostly of salt. The result was vaguely similar to what you might put in a fajita, but there were no tortillas at all. You could put corn in this mixture if you wished. I guess that was kind of Mexican.

There were really cool gas grills in the middle of each table where you could make shish kabobs of meat, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and pineapple. The pasta salad at the cold buffet was pretty good, as were the cold meat balls. Those were about the spiciest things in the restaurant. The lasagna and spaghetti with meat sauce smelled pretty good, but I didn't try any.

The mariachi music playing over the sound system and the bright yellow shirts on the servers seemed a little out of place considering what we were eating.This truly was a "Mexican" restaurant. Robin says that it resembles a Mongolian grill combined with a do-it-yourself Brazilian steakhouse. I described it as almost what a Belgian restaurant might be if one were opened in Mexico City, except the food would be spicier.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Chocolat

Belgium is very famous for three basic foods: chocolate, fries, and waffles. (They are also quite famous for beer, although that is technically a beverage and we aren't going to try it.)
These three foods are everywhere, but I especially want to talk about chocolate today. First of all, there is a reason Belgian chocolate is famous! It is delicious. It also has a rich history.  For example, the composition of Belgian chocolate was regulated in 1884 to prevent adulteration by inferior ingredients.

What is so amazing is how it seems there is chocolate in just about everything. In the U.S., there are several chocolate infused cold cereals. Here, the selection of cold cereals is quite smaller than in a U.S. supermarket, but well over half of the varieties involve chocolate.

Waffles are a subject in themselves, but I have to say this:  Packaged waffles are available in staggering varieties, many of which are also dipped in chocolate. I was worried about my kids wanting to eat only cold cereal for breakfast because it is so expensive. That's no problem because they LOVE the packaged waffles, plain or chocolate.  I think this is actually cheaper, and given the unhealthy cereals, the nutrition trade-off is minimal.  (They do miss Frosted Mini-Wheats.)  

If you haven't had enough chocolate for breakfast, you can always spread Nutella on your sandwich at lunch. 

How about a snack?  Cookies usually involve chocolate. That's not that they don't in the States, I guess, but the only place in Smith's to buy a cookie topped with a slab of chocolate is in the international cookie section.  Cookies are dipped in chocolate, have chocolate chips (cookies americains, anyone?), or have chocolate fillings. 

And all this is not to even mention the entire aisle in the supermarket devoted to chocolate.  Sure, there are other candies, but again, the chocolate presence is, I think, more than the U.S.  There is also the quality to consider.  Cheap store brands of plain chocolate bars are more delicious than some name brand bars in the States.

Part of the chocolate aisle.

If you still haven't had enough chocolate by the end of the day, you can have a dessert of chocolates, chocolate ice cream, or chocolate pudding.

Depending on how you look at it, it's a chocoholic's paradise or downfall.  I'm just glad I have to go up and down the stairs a lot in this house.

Monday, September 1, 2014

First Day of School!

It was the first day of school for us today.  I forgot to take pictures, but maybe that's because they didn't put on brand new clothes and walk out the door.  Today began an adventure for us all: I am teaching them all at home.

It went pretty well.   What bothered me most was that the lessons I had spent hours preparing (I'm new at this, so I really hope I'll get faster) took minutes to teach.  In reading and writing, I loved being able to discuss their written answers verbally and personally.  I hope they liked it, too!  In social studies, we just learned and researched together.  Now I'm preparing lessons for tomorrow.  I better get back to it!