Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What's In The Skies This Month - April

It's April 1st and that means that 2015 is now officially 1/4 of the way done with.. It also means its time for another edition of "What's In The Skies This Month", where Charles from Chuckwalla Observatory joins us to give a quick rundown of what's going on in the heavens this month.   A Huge thank you to Charles for taking the time to write this for us :)

Astro-blog for April, 2015

Moon Phases for April

April 4th is the date of April's full moon. This one is known as the Full Pink Moon by early Native Americans because pink phlox flowers would bloom during this time of year. However, this year a special event will turn the Full Pink Moon into a Full Red Moon!

Lunar Eclipse photographed from Mojave Desert Oct 8th, 2014

The 18th marks April's new moon. This is good timing, because a young moon will mean dark skies for a meteor shower that is set to occur a few days afterwards.

Planets in April

You will notice the planet Venus rising higher into the evening sky this month, and glowing extremely bright well after sunset. In fact, Venus will be about magnitude -3.6 by mid-month. Magnitude is simply the measured brightness of an object as seen from Earth. The lower the number, the brighter the object. Objects with negative values are exceptionally bright. The Sun is about -26, whereas the full moon is around -12.5. The magnitude of Venus can vary depending on it's position in it's orbit.
When Venus is at it's brightness it can nearly reach magnitude -5. Through a telescope, Venus is still in a gibbous phase this month, but is steadily making it's way to a half illuminated phase from our perspective.

Jupiter is still in good standing for observation this month. It will be near the zenith by sunset and sets in the early morning hours. Because the distance is growing between our world and the king of planets, Jupiter will look smaller in the eyepiece than it did last month.

Saturn is making steady progress at replacing Jupiter as the dominant planet in the sky. It rises before midnight, but you'll still want to observe it in the early morning hours to allow it to gain some altitude. As the days go on the views of the ringed wonder will get better and better as it nears opposition in late May.

Special Events

The big happening this month occurs on the same night of the full moon. A total lunar eclipse will grace the skies over the Americas, Australia and Asia. The best views of the eclipse in the USA will be from the west coast. For more information on this lunar eclipse, including when are where you can view it, visit this article on the Universe Today's website.

On the night of April 22nd and morning of the 23rd, the Lyrids meteor shower will reach it's peak. The moon will set after midnight, leaving dark skies during the best hours to view the shower. The Lyrids average about 20 meteors per hour and can produce dust trails. They are called the Lyrids because the meteors appear to radiate from the constellation of Lyra, which is home to the famous Ring Nebula.

Location of Radiant for Lyrids on April 22nd


The first part of International Astronomy Day is April 25th this year. Astronomy Day is an event intended to raise public awareness about astronomy and the universe we live in. Astronomy clubs and societies, museums, schools, planetariums and observatories will be putting on public events such as telescope viewing sessions and presentations about astronomy. Astronomy Day is a two part event that is normally held in the spring and fall. The second part of International Astronomy Day will be on September 19th. For more information, including a list of events planned in your area, visit the Astronomical League's Astronomy Day webpage:

Meatball Sandwich Casserole

My friends love to post various recipes both on Facebook and on Pinterest. Since most of my friends are just as big foodies as I am, this works out great for me as there's always a plethora of dinner ideas streaming to me on a daily basis.   Yesterday, on of my friends (Ricky, here's your shoutout  lol)  posted what was labeled as a Meatball Sandwich Casserole. Well, as soon as I saw it I knew what I was going to cook tonight for dinner. I mean come on - meatballs, pasta sauce, bread and oodles and oodles of cheese.. Enough said - I showed my husband the picture and off he went to the commissary to pick up the required ingredients :)

First thing first, gotta get that oven preheated..  

While the oven was preheated, I took one jar of pasta sauce and added it to a huge pot and then added two small bags of Armour Italian Turkey Meatballs. I cooked these over low heat in the pot just long enough to heat them up.  While they were heating up, I also sliced up a fresh french bread baguette.

Time for construction.. Pouring the heated meatball and sauce in my trusty casserole dish I then started using the sliced up bread to line the outside of the dish.

Next was covering all this goodness with cheese.. Using a blend of 1 cup Italian cheese and 1 cup Mozzarella cheese I covered up all the meatballs. My family REALLY likes cheese so I might have used slightly more than a cup, my family won't mind.. (Hey, it helps cut down on toilet paper)..

Now all this meaty cheesy goodness gets popped into the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Let it cool off for a good 10 minutes.

Pair it up with a nice salad and just a bit of garlic salt and you basically have a Subway meatball sub that's alot healthier for you.   Unless you go crazy with the cheese ;)  

Next time I made this, I'll probably angle the bread a bit better and put a nice bruchetta on them but overall , this meal was great.. The kids really enjoyed it.  

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tortoise On A Half Shell

Animals have always been a big part of our household. If we had the land for it, we would currently have horses, chickens, goats and whatever other type of barnyard animal we could enjoy.  Since we're in a very small house that's owned by the government, well, we don't have that type of space and we are limited to how many larger animals (dogs and cats) that we are allowed to have. However, that doesn't stop my family from having a menagerie of animals that do not violate the pet limit rule..

Up until now, we had our cats and a dog, two White's Dumpy tree frogs, crickets (okay okay, they are to feed the frogs),  and two tanks of fish.. We also keep our feeders out so that we can enjoy the various birds and other wildlife that visits our yard. 

Last night, my husband ran inside the local Petsmart to pick up some crickets. It's usually not a good thing to send the husband into the pet store alone as he often comes out with another type of critter.. That's kinda how we got our first frog.. and our second frog.. and a few of our fish as well..   Luckily, he didn't come out with a critter, but he did come out with that look in his eye..

Today my husband and I drove back to Petsmart after a trip to pick up an enclosure. One hundred dollars later (I guess you can't pay enough for a good tortoise) we walked out with a small female Russian Tortoise.  

The kids were super excited when they saw what I held in my hands when we got home.  They watched as Dad gave her a bath and got her nice and clean and then we took her outside in the front yard to get acquainted with her.  We watched as she moved around, checking out her surroundings and as she snacked on the various dandelion plants in our yard.

Russian tortoises live to be about 40 years old so I told Charles he will have to figure out which kid he plans on leaving her to in his will..  For now, she'll be an easy pet for the kids to start learning responsibility with who won't require too much time, money or special requirements..

Friday, March 27, 2015

Our Week In Review

Today being Friday, it makes sense that a quick rundown of our week is in order.. The kids have been very busy with their lessons and with trying out new curriculum. I've been pretty blessed that my kids are all easy going and for the most part are willing to try just about anything we do, to some degree.. LOL

First, the big excitement in our house this week is that we got a small table to go in the living room where the kids can eat their lunch and do their work without sitting on the floor all the time. Not bad for a 30 dollar investment, for sure :)

Our new and improved school area :)   With a great view

Here's some of what we're currently working with; history, science, art, handwriting and literature

We're still reading through "Little House in the Big Woods" and are about halfway though it at this point. We read 1-3 chapters a week, depending on the size of the chapter.

This week we started a new history curriculum with "The Mystery Of History" Volume 1.  Always a great place to start, we began our lesson about the story of Creation and a run down of what God created on each day.   Wednesday we tackled the story of Adam and Eve and then today we quickly covered Jubal and Tubal - Cain.

Mystery of History all ready to go

Coloring our Minibook on Creation

For Math we started a new review with A+ Tutorsoft. This week we reviewed mathematics and the kids did some worksheets that go along with the program but it was a bit more in depth then what their previous math book covered  so I think we will actually start the program from the beginning and see how they do with it.. Dad even jumped in during their math session and was helping them with the worksheets.

Continuing with our Botany book by Apologia the kids discussed vascular and non vascular plants, xylem and phloem, and mosses.

Observing Moss

Experiment using paper towels to observe non-vascular plants

Drawing what they were observing

Their least favorite thing: Copy Work

Ashleigh has bee working with me on on a review of New American Handwriting by Memoria Press.  This week we worked hard on the letter B. So far she really enjoys doing the writing assignment although she does occasionally rush through the letters and I have to erase and make her take her time.

The kids have also been working hard on a review for Artistic Pursuits. We've been working on this on Tuesdays and Thursdays and while Ashleigh seems more into it then Garrett is, they have both been enjoying playing with watercolor crayons.

Ashleigh celebrated her birthday yesterday and so I made some cupcakes for them to enjoy. We don't do the sweets thing very often so when they do get cake or cookies, it's usually a big deal.. While we're waiting til this weekend to celebrate her birthday with cake and presents, she did get a present early, a pair of headphones (which are honestly more a present for Dad and myself. .haha) which she was thrilled about. Now she can do LaLaLogic on her Dreamtab without disturbing anyone.

The warm weather has been bringing alot of visitors to our house and the kids have been having a blast observing all the wildlife coming and going..  First, the House Finches have returned to build a nest in the satellite dish outside their window and there are five eggs inside.  We've had various hummingbirds visiting our feeders, a family of bunnies visiting the yard every morning, and this morning we were visited by a oriole who wanted a drink from the hummingbird feeder in our back yard.

House Finch Eggs

Our Peeping Tom

Overall, it's been a great week for all of us :) 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Happy Birthday Ashleigh

It's hard to believe that seven years ago this little angel entered our lives. Ash was always on her own schedule - she wasn't planned, she had her own time schedule and she wasn't waiting on anyone, the doctor included.. Seven years later and really nothing has changed, she still beats to her own drum and makes her presence known.

Happy Birthday My Sweet Little Girlie.. Mommy loves you more than you'll ever know.. 


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