Tuesday, December 30, 2008

One Night Only!

Just a sneak preview of my astroblogging skillz...

Tonight you will not want to miss the beautiful Dusk Planets + Moon Extravaganza. Yes, tonight you will see a stunning display of just a few of our solar system neighbors in the early evening. You'll want to look to the west where you'll see (in order from western horizon up) Mercury - only visible if you have a clear horizon line, Jupiter, a crescent moon, and Venus. For more information, you should go to the Sky and Telescope article, which has details and some pretty diagrams.

If you enjoyed this entry, consider following my soon-to-go-live Stay At Home Momstronomer blog, beginning on January 1st and in honor 2009, the International Year of Astronomy. This blog is for people with an interest in but not an in-depth knowledge of astronomy, and also for people who have in interest in teaching astronomy to young (and even very young) people - you know, like parents and stuff. A sample blog entry might include an explanation of why the objects you see tonight are lined up, and whether or not a "planetary alignment" is a common occurrence. You will not see a blog entry, or any part thereof, dedicated to explaining how the position of the planets in tonight's sky will affect your love life or your chances at a promotion. You'd need a momstrologer for that, and I'm not qualified.

Monday, December 29, 2008


So I have felt like a complete idiot for a couple of reasons. 1st, I really wish I had video of my run in with the fence because I think we could have made some serious moola on Youtube. But more to the point, how bad can you really hurt yourself just by running into a fence? I have been a little mystified as to how my knee got so big just from a run in with a 3 foot fence. I finally just could not take it anymore and I went back to take a look at the fence (it is amazing how obvious it is that there is a fence here when the sun is up) and took some pictures. If you go back and look at the picture of my knee you can see a small circle that oddly enough matches the bolt sticking out of the latch.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

This video took many attempts and much chasing around the house with a Santa hat. Consider it a token of our devotion to all our "fans" at the Cookie Jar. Best wishes for a joyous holiday season and a very happy New Year!

Happy Holidays! from Krissie Cook on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quasars to Sea Stars Holiday Party

We got to attend the annual holiday party for the Quasars to Sea Stars program at the SB Museum of Natural History. As an alumna, I am invited, and since Stellan may be the first second-generation Quasar, I always drag him and Kevin along.
It was good to see all the teens and other alums in attendance, and we were glad to get rid of two awesome white elephant gifts we dragged across the country. (That's a story for another post.) Stellan had a great time, mostly because the desserts were on the low table in the kids' classroom, so he had free range all night. Which we unfortunately didn't notice until he had his way with several cupcakes and half a tin of Trader Joe's star cookies. (He's now on a dessert furlough at least until Christmas.)
I also participated in the holiday sweater contest. I must admit to some shame on this one. I was told that there would be a mandatory gaudy holiday sweater contest, but I wasn't going to spend the time to shop around for one, new or used, and instead took the shortcut and asked Momfa if she had one. She of course replied that she did; then, to my horror, she said, "This is for one of those ugly sweater contests, isn't it?" I felt pretty guilty. But it paid off - thanks to my awesome runway skills and an elf hat left over from last week's Winter FUNderland, I won the contest. Thanks, Momfa: it really wasn't ugly enough to win, I just know how to make a decent outfit look worse!
The only tragedy of the night was Kevin's unfortunate run-in with a waist-high chain link fence. He was on his way to dispose of a poopy diaper in the big dumpster out back and thought he was past all the fencing. The lack of lighting, while beneficial for star parties at the nearby observatory, did not properly indicate the existence of the fence; Kevin confidently walked right into it and promptly fell right over it. Ten minutes later, he managed to get off the ground and limp back to the party. His knee may never be the same. That said, he wants to assure all interested parties that he'll be good to play volleyball on Monday night if he can get enough players.
Despite this minor incident, a good time was had by all. I'd like to send a special shout-out to all the Quasars, current and past; I'm glad to share something so awesome in common with you. Keep doing great things with your lives!

A New Car!

For Christmas, my Dad and Maggie got us a new car! OK, they got Stellan a used car. Unfortunately, he didn't quite get the hang of the Flintstone-style propulsion system. So naturally I had to show him.

It's much more fun as a team sport.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Reunions

We've been enjoying the sights back home, and have enjoyed spending time with family and friends. But the happiest reunion of all must be the one that Stellan had with Lily, his canine soul mate. A special thanks to the docents at the SB Museum of Natural History for inviting us to their annual potluck and thus giving Stellan the opportunity to entertain everyone with his puppy-loving antics. (After this video was recorded, they took their two-person party to the stage in the auditorium for all to enjoy.)

Stellan Hearts Lily from Krissie Cook on Vimeo.

The One Most Important Thing

Last night I was enjoying an interesting conversation with some friends, including Vivian and Jerry and Laura, all of whom I was really glad to see, about the one most important thing to which kids are not being exposed. We all had stories about people who will share what that one thing is; here are a few we discussed, in no particular order.
  • Nutrition. Childhood obesity is a huge problem, and many parents could be doing more to help their kids eat better. On the other hand, some parents are undernourishing their kids with no fat, no sugar, all vegan/organic diets.
  • Outdoor free play. Richard Louv's Last Child In The Woods has led the charge for restoring kids' access to nature in an unstructured setting. He points out that "nature-deficit" can hinder physical and emotional development and lead to higher incidence of obesity, attention disorder and depression.
  • Music. Laura shared that her father runs a symphony program for urban children who have asked where the sounds they hear are coming from. Apparently they don't all know that humans can create music without shooting electrons through a technological device. Jerry shared how important the piano lessons his parents forced on him were for his overall well being, even though he didn't always enjoy it.
  • Overscheduling. Some kids spend all their time shuttling from one activity to another and end up burning out, even on things they once enjoyed and even excelled at.
  • Gaming. It will be fascinating to see what the first generation of computer gamers do as parents now that their kids are gaming. However, it seems plain that too many kids spend more time in their own virtual reality (where they are always the center of their game, they can't die or suffer any negative consequences and where they have absolute control), than they do in actual reality. A clear suspect in the Age of Self Entitlement.
We thought it would be interesting to create a panel of people, each of whom represent the One Thing they think is threatening the children of America. Now comes the question for you, Dear Reader: what would you add to the list?

P.S. Happy Birthday, Laura!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Honor Roll!

Kevin made it. The end.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Another Field Trip

After our tour of the Everglades, we were inspired to do some more sightseeing in Florida, so we trekked across to the west (Gulf) coast of Florida for the day. We ended our journey in Naples, a scenic coastal town that had something like a Carpinteria vibe. The sand was so white and fluffy, it reminded us of snow. Really! We ate some delicious Thai at the local Sushi Thai (it's a Florida thing - all sushi and/or Thai restaurants have been combined into Sushi Thai), nobody honked - not even once, and the weather was gorgeous. We decided that if we were forced to live in Florida beyond the dictates of Kevin's program, Naples is one place we'd be OK with. Also, to anyone with a DQ in their neck of the woods, I definitely recommend the Peppermint Chip Blizzard. That alone was worth the hour and a half drive.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Touring the Everglades

We decided to take some time to tour the Everglades, since they're practically in our backyard. First we took a drive down Alligator Alley, but when it didn't deliver the promised reptiles, we resorted to the tourist-y Everglades Holiday Park a short drive from our house. We got to ride an airboat, see alligators, go to a very saddening alligator wrestling demonstration and see lots of Everglades. Enjoy this slideshow, as well as the montage of short movie clips.

Gator Adventure from Krissie Cook on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Pageant

In the time honored tradition, our Primary performed a Christmas pageant tonight. True to our ward's form, we gave them less than two weeks to practice it. It was just as cute as you imagine it might be, complete with "waving at his mom through the whole thing" kid, "No, I won't take off my iPod even for the pageant" kid (not quite as cute), misread lines (apparently Joseph was traveling to Bethlehem with his exposed wife, contrary to traditionalists who insist she was instead espoused), and a doll baby Jesus who only got dropped on his head twice. 'Tis the season!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nerd Punches All Around

Kris: [She is spinning a cup around Stellan's head as she makes a whistling noise.] Stellan, pay attention. See how the sippy cup makes a higher pitched whistle as it approaches you? That's the Doppler effect.
Kev: That's funny.
Kris: Why?
Kev: Because I was teaching him about the Doppler effect yesterday.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Reverse Logic of Efficiency in a Toddler Home

What's the most inefficient way to clean a room in a child-free home? By grabbing 4 items, each from different rooms, putting them away one by one, and then returning for 4 more items from 4 different rooms.
What's the most efficient way to clean a room with a toddler around? By grabbing 4 items, each from different rooms, putting them away one by one, and then returning for 4 more items from 4 different rooms. That's because if you sneak into Room 1 with Item 1, he'll notice and track you into Room 1 to see what you did. That's when you slip into Room 2 with Item 2, which he won't see until you're leaving Room 2. Ever curious, the toddler will take this bait for at least half an hour. Trust me.

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Camera!

We tested out our new camera at the pool yesterday. Sweet! And here our first video taken with our new camera. Our old one didn't have sound, so this is much improved.

Oh Frabjous Day!

After several long (and nerve racking) months without any health coverage, we can all sleep easier knowing that Stellan will be able to get the health care he needs, if and when he should need it.
Not to get all ranty about it, but I am ready for some health care reform. Medical care is excessively expensive, even prohibitively expensive if you don't have insurance; and we don't have insurance. In fact, insurance through the university would have run us $5,000 per person. Private insurance was also out of our grad school budget, along with many other comforts we once enjoyed. We've experienced a couple of close calls in the months since I left the Museum, where we had to weigh our worry over a urgent medical condition and our willingness to go into debt to pay for treatment. If you've never been in that situation, imagine having to put a price tag on your concern. Are you sick $50 worth? Are you sick $100 worth? Are you sick $1000 worth? Just how confident are you that you'll improve without treatment? Then substitute your concern for your own well being with the well being of your child, and see how well you sleep at night.
Thankfully for us, we'll be able to ensure that Stellan gets the health care he needs to stay healthy. And my heart goes out to everyone who doesn't have that assurance right now.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Have a Hubble Christmas!

The Big Picture (by the Boston Globe) is running a Hubble Space Telescope online advent calendar. They'll post one image a day with some commentary and links for more info each day through December 25th. This may be the best advent calendar I've ever seen! Here's today's image (the Antennae Galaxies), but go to their page directly for more images and info.