Upper Mississippi Vacation (Part One)

We planned to do an Upper Mississippi River vacation since we had already seen the lower part, and my mom really wanted to walk across the headwaters. We didn’t have as much driving as previous vacations, so that was a plus. It was also only a four-day  trip.

First stop was the Wisconsin Deer Park. Wisconsin Deer ParkWe bought deer food when we arrived and got to pet and feed the deer that were out and about. I never realized how cute deer were until then. They were really affectionate when it came to the food, and they even ate out of our hands. The antlers on some of the deer were very soft and fuzzy. After we finished feeding them, we walked around and looked at the other animals for a bit. There were rheas, peacocks, goats, bison, and a lot of types of deer.

20170610_130255Next stop was Villa Louis. Villa Louis is an old Victorian house with mostly original everything inside, which is pretty rare in old homes. It was a pretty neat place. We got to see the old office building on the property along with the adjoined billiards room. During the tour of the inside of the house, we saw the bedrooms and even some of the clothing people wore. There was a display of Victorian wedding dresses going on, so we saw all the old types of dresses as well. The original owners of Villa Louis raised racing horses. 20170610_131036They believed that if the horses drank mineral-filled water, they would run faster. They drilled artesian wells that put out the water that had a lot of iron, which also makes things around it red. Whether or not it helped the horses at all, I don’t know. But we did get to try the water from one of the wells, it was pretty good. As cool as the place was, we had to chug along to continue with our vacation on schedule.

20170610_165133Our next destination was to the American Pickers‘ place in Iowa. My dad really wanted to come here since he likes the American Pickers show. It took us a bit to find it, but we did. And when we did, we were kind of…surprised. My dad compared his reaction to when Ralphie decodes the Ovaltine message in A Christmas Story. It’s a somewhat interesting place, but they don’t have many antiques for sale there–mostly a lot of American Pickers t-shirts, coffee mugs and magnets. It was funny though to see my dad’s reaction.

Next was the upper Mississippi. We drove around in the Lake Itasca park and did some walking on steep nature trails. It was beautiful, although there were a lot of bugs. After getting a little turned around, we headed up to the headwaters. Well, we walked across the “mighty” Mississippi where it was about 18-feet wide and 2-feet deep.Wading across Mississippi River We walked down the stairs to get to the river. It was cold and sort of slimy in the water, but we did it. We hit the road again and then realized after looking at a postcard…we didn’t actually reach the headwaters (disclaimer: there were no signs where we were to point us in the right direction). Mom guesses that she was just so excited to have walked across the Mississippi that she didn’t even think about it not being the actual headwaters. So, now we’ll have to do a reboot of this vacation to go up to the actual headwaters of the Mississippi.

Watch for “Part Two” of our mini-vacation next week.

 

End of 8th Grade!

It’s been a busy couple of months (which is why there have been fewer posts). For one, I’m finally out of 8th grade! There was way too much practicing that went into the ceremony (which really didn’t need to happen, but the teachers are perfectionists). There were a lot of us graduating (about 250), too, so it took a while to get through all of the names. At the actual ceremony, in a theatre (wow), we were given empty envelopes when we walked across the stage. When we got on the buses to head back to our school, we received the actual proof of our graduation–a nicely typed, half-page certificate. It was basically an over-complicated and elaborate event to make an 8th grade graduation look good and/or cool. I have to admit though, it was still pretty nice to go through it.

The best thing to come out of this is, of course, summer break! I’m hoping to have a lot of fun this summer, even though I’m going to summer school to get some credit for high school. I should be able to do more regular posts soon, so look out for those.

I hope everyone else has had a wonderful start to their summertime!

Happy Springy-Spring!

20170422_172825Yea, it’s been spring for a while now, but for once it actually feels like it! Spring has a lot of holidays, a few of which were this past Saturday. First off, there was Earth Day on April 22. We went around our neighborhood picking up trash and recyclables. It didn’t look like much improvement at first, but we had two big bags when we were finished.

Next, to celebrate Record Store Day (also on April 22), we drove out to a small record store to try to find a few albums, but to no prevail. It was fun to get to sort through all the records, though, and see what all was there. Half Price Books also had some records, so we went there in search of both records and books. My dad got his records, I had fun looking for horror books, including Cujo, Frankenstein, Dracula, and a couple of Ray Bradbury books.

Tie-Dye Day was also on April 22, but we weren’t in the mood to do shirts. Instead, we celebrated by making coffee filter flowers. We used water color paint to color the flowers to look like tie-dye, let them dry, then bunched them up to look like flowers and secured them with pipe cleaners. The flowers look very cool on our mini-tree.

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1a) Paint the filter with water color and a brush.

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1b) Or you can put a bit of water on the filter and dip the filter in water color so it wicks up some paint.

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2) Let the filter(s) dry.

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3) Fold/crimp/roll your flowers together and secure with pipe cleaner at base. Should look ruffle-y.

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Pretty flower tree!

(Had I done this closer to Easter, there would have been an eggs-travagant amount of egg puns while looking back on all the egg-traordinay egg-ventures from the past few years. So I guess it can be looked at as a blessing that you only had to deal with three. ;P )

Outbreak!

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been a while, it’s been busy! I’ve been busy doing Interdisciplinary Units (IDUs) for school, basically a series of themed projects. This year, our theme is outbreak. That means outbreaks of colds and flu to outbreaks leading to the apocalypse. It has been awesome to do these.

For our first project, we had some options to choose from. I decided to do a slide presentation on Marburg. Basically, it’s almost the twin of Ebola, but a bit less deadly. 

For our next project we made up a story about an outbreak of any virus–one that either exists, doesn’t exist, or is yet to be discovered. My story was about a tuberculosis-mimicking disease that also turns people’s veins black and their skin translucent. The scientist who tries to fix the outbreak forgets to try to save herself, so she ends up dying. It’s set up as a series of journal entries over the course of a year from the perspective of the young scientist. I had a lot of fun with this one.

Next up was a prevention brochure of any disease. My disease? Senioritis! Thought my teacher would get a kick out of that one, so I gave various information on this sluggish disease. Other people have done research and projects on senioritis, and most say it is a psychological condition; however, it still qualified as an outbreak since it affects a large number of people. Here’s my brochure (click on picture to see larger version)…

Senioritis Brochure-frontSenioritis Brochure-inside

As our fourth project, we had to do research and math on a particular disease in a particular state. I got to research the poliovirus in Alaska. There was a surprising amount of math that I did that I really didn’t need to do (just like me to make things harder on myself), but it was still a fun project.

Finally, a hysterical marker (yes, it’s a play on words of “historical”). My mom helped me find a topic, and we discovered “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s. Perfect for a school project, right? The research done showed that it was about children accusing daycare centers and elementary/preschools of satanic rituals, murders, rape; everything that would give a sane person the chills. My poster for this project was no better: bloody/fiery border with candles, Satanic Panic written in a creepy-gorey font, and a few pentagrams for good measure (I swear I am a normal person), along with the information and a hand-drawn version of the book cover of Michelle Remembers, thought to be a book that was one of the causes of this hysteria outbreak.

So far, of the three years and IDU themes I have done, I think this could be the coolest theme. I’m looking forward to what they plan for incentives based around our outbreak IDU.

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Yeah, I know it’s almost a month late, BUT Chinese New Year is still in the future – January 28th, in fact. 2017 is the year of the rooster, the Chinese Zodiac occurring every 12 years. The Chinese New Year’s date always changes since its based off of the Chinese lunar calendar, unlike our traditional new year based on the Gregorian calendar. The years of the rooster are often thought of as unlucky years even though the people born in those years are supposed to be pretty good, but I think this year will be alright. (For some other fun-facts, go here.) I hope all of you had a good start to 2017.

Speaking of China, my school is doing a play centered in China: Disney’s Mulan (Jr.) It’s been going pretty good so far with the practices, but we haven’t reached the frantic stage yet. We are hoping that this year will end up being a lot better than last year’s play (let’s just say it was beyond hectic). We have been trying to figure out ways to pull off Chinese decor without spending a lot of money, so if you have any ideas, please drop it in the comments.

There are a lot of differences between the movie and the Junior Play. First of all, I would like to point out that Mulan is considered a Disney Princess, but she is not born into royalty nor does she marry into royalty. She is considered also to have a prince, but no prince is present until the sequel and Mulan does not marry the prince (sorry that always bugged me).

  • In the movie, Mulan has to disguise her body so the soldiers won’t notice she’s a girl. In the play, the whole thing is that the soldiers should not be able to see her hair. The solution? Oddly enough, a “boyish ponytail,” quoth the voice-over. Then they put the ponytail in a helmet, but not until later.
  • Next off, Mulan is scared to death in the movie when the guys go into the lake to bathe, because she doesn’t want the soldiers finding out. In the play, she has to play a game of strip mahjong (yes, the play gets away with this, but it’s offstage) and win so she wouldn’t be exposed.
  • The way she is found out in the play isn’t as heroic as it is in the movie. Her helmet legitimately just falls off, whereas in the movie she gets stabbed saving the captain and the doctor stitches her up and finds out. There also isn’t as much fighting (if any) in the play.
  • THERE ARE A LOT MORE SONGS IN THE PLAY. THERE’S ONLY FOUR IN THE ORIGINAL MOVIE WITH THREE IN THE SEQUEL (yes there is a sequel to Mulan, it’s really pretty good). THERE’S SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MANY SONGS IN THE PLAY. Of course, I guess it was converted into a musical of sorts…Otherwise, the drama teacher wouldn’t have picked it.

On that note, I hope you all enjoyed your 2017’s start and will enjoy the Chinese New Year!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Hi everyone! I hope you all aren’t too stressed this time of year, because it’s time to celebrate… and to remember! Thanksgiving is all about being thankful, and food, but mainly being thankful.

I’m thankful for my family, my friends, my home, and my life. Those are fairly common things to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my family because they put up with me and are supportive of me. I’m thankful for my friends because they don’t abandon me. My home is basically where my life has taken place, besides school. My life has given me the ability to exist. I’m thankful for other things, such as music and video games. Both provide a distraction or escape from reality and are really fun (music is fun to sing with and video games are fun to play, even when you get stuck in a dungeon in Ocarina of Time and your playing info. is lost [true story]).

Food, food, where do I start? There’s definitely an array of food at this time. Pumpkin pie and turkey are probably what comes to mind when Thanksgiving comes up, but I prefer green bean casserole. I don’t understand why turkey is the main meat of this holiday, though. At the first Thanksgiving, Native Americans and Pilgrims were eating quail and fish. I’ve never tried quail and I don’t like fish, so I guess I’m fine with turkey.

I am upset that Thanksgiving doesn’t seem to be a big holiday anymore. It always seems to be Halloween from August to October 31, and then on November 1, it’s straight to Christmas. Thanksgiving should be more important, even if Black Friday is right after. If it hadn’t been for the first Thanksgiving, America might have been a lot different… just something to think about.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends, appreciate everything you have, and don’t each too much food!

Everything SPOOKY!

Happy (belated) Halloween and Day of the Dead! Did you guys see any ghosts? Speaking of which, that reminds me of my science project on the paranormal! It definitely was a weird topic to have, especially since it isn’t a real science (yet). In this project, I had to research a lot of stuff, including what “paranormal” is, why it isn’t a true science, and what has already been disproven/proven in the field of the paranormal. Of course, that wasn’t all. I got to hold an experiment of sorts to test my classmates for “extrasensory perception” (telepathy, aka mind-reading) and I had to write a fictional story about the paranormal. It was a fairly fun project, but very long and tiring to do.

The reason this ties into Halloween is, of course, ghosts! They are a type of paranormal, not yet proven but possible within the laws of physics and nature. I think that was my only tie to Halloween with my paranormal project, since vampires, zombies, and werewolves would be more under the supernatural aspect of unexplained phenomena. But Halloween ties to horror movies, including PsychoThe Shining, and The Birds.  Now they may not all sound like horror movies, especially by the title The Birds, but they all are horror movies (or just plain out weird/creepy to the point of horror). This was the first time I had seen these movies, and I thought they were really good. I don’t have a favourite, though.

halloweenfest

At the park district’s Halloweenfest, I worked at a game where kids could reach in and grab prizes. We had A LOT of kids play. My costume was a broken porcelain doll–wearing a volunteer vest.

Sadly, we did not get the chance to carve a pumpkin. However, we did do a lot of Halloween activities. I helped the park district with their Halloweenfest and repeated the same thing about 28 million times (ok, maybe not that many, but close to it). I also trick-or-treated with my friends after one of them came back to visit. It was a really fun October this year, even without the pumpkin guts!

PUMPKINS!!!

Pumpkins are one of my favourite things about autumn. There is pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice, jack’o’lantern pumpkins, eyeball pumpkins, twine pumpkins, fake pumpkins, virtual pumpkins, the Pumpkin King, the Great Pumpkin, and the list goes on and on! We like to carve our pumpkin and keep the seeds. I don’t know what our pumpkin will look like this year, but we have been getting more adventurous each year.

Miscellaneous Pumpkins

Skyward Sword: Pumpkin Landing/Lumpy Pumpkin

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Twilight Princess: Pumpkin Patch at Ordon

 

 

 

 

When I say virtual pumpkins, I really mean virtual pumpkins. In Legend of Zelda (LoZ), pumpkins show up in a few games. In Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, both of which I have played, pumpkins contain hearts and rupees (the LoZ currency). In Skyward Sword, there is a pumpkin diner of sorts. In Twilight Princess, there is even Pumpkin Soup in one of the dungeons/temples! You can do a lot with pumpkins in real life, too, but I doubt you’ll find a heart or money in them.

Food Stuff With Pumpkins

I have a recipe of sorts that we use for baking pumpkin seeds. First, make sure that your pumpkin seeds are rinsed/cleaned well and dry. Lay them out on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil. Sprinkle brown sugar on them as evenly as possible and as much as you would like. Bake them between 350-400 until they are crispy, but not too terribly crispy. They taste really good when they are done.

We have also madepumpkin-funnelcake pumpkin funnel cakes and pumpkin-cookiespumpkin cookies. With the pumpkin cookies, we followed the recipe on the link, but we added some maple syrup with the glaze to make a maple-vanilla cream glaze. They were delicious, but now they are gone! In our pumpkin funnel cakes, we didn’t really change anything. They pretty much tasted like normal funnel cakes, but with a little bit more spice than normal ones. They were still good, but I think I’d rather make the cookies again.

The Kitten Project

On September 3rd, we brought home two feral kittens! One is Rory Williams Woods, named after a character in Doctor Who, and the other is Oswin Oswald Woods, named after another character in Doctor Who. Their sister was taken home by my grandparents, and her name is Skittles.

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This is Rory when we got him.

This is Oswin, on top of his brother.

This is Oswin, on top of his brother.

These two sure were a handful. On the first day, they did not trust us and kept running away from us. Oswin even got under the couch in the room several times! They wouldn’t eat when we were around, so we left them alone. They started to eat later that night.

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This is Zip, outside the door where the kittens are. He looks a lot like Oswin.

The next day we fed them again, but they still didn’t like us too much. We decided to introduce our older cat, Zip, to the kittens since he had been hanging outside the door since we got them. He didn’t like Rory too much and hissed at him, but Rory didn’t retaliate, which was good. He just meowed at Oswin.

They have started to warm up to us more. We gave them catnip a few days later, and they mellowed out even more. Oswin got under the couch a lot, and Rory started to follow, so we moved the couch so we could get them out easier.

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Zip is inside the box, and Oswin is trying to play with him.

Rory doesn’t run as much from us since the catnip. He greets me at the door because I am their food-bringer (they run from me unless i have food or have brought some recently; so far I have been food-zoned). Oswin is okay with us, but he still runs to his bed sometimes. We’ve had Zip come in almost every day now, and Oswin really likes him. He nuzzles Zip’s chin every time he sees him.

The kittens are growing every day, including their claws. Hopefully we can learn how to trim their claws soon!

Tips for Kittens:

  • Give them space, but make sure they are okay with you. Stay in the room for a little bit and play with them; give them food/water when you are with them. Once they seem tired or bored with you, leave them alone so they can rest.
  • If you have other pets, gradually introduce them. Use a baby gate so the kittens and other pet(s) can see/smell each other and none of them hurt each other. As they start to get okay with each other, then you can have them in the same room.
    • Also check out your kittens and other pets to make sure they don’t have anything contagious. Until you get them checked out, don’t let your other pet(s) use their litter pan or eat/drink their food/water.
  • Make sure the room you have them in is safe. Make sure they can’t escape through an open door or window (they can jump pretty high) and that they won’t get stuck anywhere. Kitten-proof the area(s) they will be in.
  • Claw-trimming should be done safely in about 1-2 week intervals, depending on how fast their claws grow. You can ask your veterinarian how to do it.

More updates on the kittens will be coming later!