Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summer Mosaic

We stay around home this summer and have had variety of activities which forms the mosaic of our summer.

White rock lake

During 4th of July weekend,  in addition to Perot museum, we visited white rock lake again. This time we went for kayaking on the lake. When we got there, we were only able to rent last three blue kayaks. Lily decided to walk around the lake. Lily thoroughly enjoyed her walk around the west bank of the lake. The rest of us did enjoy the view from the middle of the lake but not much about the kayaking itself. The shallow sit-on-top blue kayak is nice for the eyes but hard for kayakers.

paddling on white rock lake

We were delighted to see a grand egret in the flight, and another swallowing a fish. We were impressed with the trails on the west bank and plan to tour white rock lake again on bikes sometime.

Grand egret on white rock lake

4th of July fireworks

Justin went out to see fireworks in person and took many beautiful pictures. He showed us the pictures he took on TV in slideshow.

Fireworks at Oak Point

North Texas Weather

We had a cool late spring and early summer with temperature below average. Things changed quickly, we had a stretch of days temperature was at triple digit (F). The drought situation in North Texas deteriorated. Clear sky, bright sunshine was no longer something to cheer on. Along with many people, I wished that we could have more rainy days!

The Friday a week ago, on the way home I was greeted with heavy down pour on the service road of north Texas toll way - I could not see anything a few yard ahead of car. I was actually cheered by this heavy rain despite the flash flood on the road way.  I wished that I could have this downpour near my house. Unfortunately the rain was lighter  as I was closer to home.

Luckily that rain started a cooling trend, and ushered in a few good rainy days. The sound of rain was beautiful music to my ears.

A rainy day in July
Noise suppression

Just as the temperature started to climb toward 100F, I heard abnormal noise from our AC unit outside the house one day. I hurried to the unit to see what was going on, it turned out that the noise came from AC line inlet and the cover over the inlet hole. The noise was due to a resonant vibration of the cover/AC line assembly. There are a few ways to suppress the noise, tighten the AC line to the unit is one way but not a lasting one. The tightening rope loosened quickly under the vibration, and noise came back in a matter of minute. Adding weight to the AC line is another possibility but not a good as it added stress to the AC line.

The other way is to change the AC line inlet cover's natural frequency. Adding filler between cover and wall did the trick - the foam like filler added small stiffness and provided damping at the same time.

Noise Suppression
Tennis on Saturday Mornings

What pleased me most this summer is that Nicholas plays tennis every Saturday morning with few exceptions.

He was not very motivated to play tennis, but not playing soccer any more, he realized that he need play something regularly for outdoor exercise. Persistence paid off. After nearly a year since quitting soccer, he is getting better and better, can play against me well occasionally; much more interested in playing tennis than before. I asked him if he wants to play tennis earlier and he answered "why not?"

playing against mommy at tennis center

He went to a week long summer tennis camp and he talked to me about his day at camp excitedly at bed time everyday that week.Now I don't have to persuade him to play tennis any more though he still needs reminder every week.

My expectation of him playing is that he can develop his tennis skill to a level that he enjoys playing it as a hobby. I believe that he starts to enjoy tennis.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Gardening thoughts - by Lily

Last spring I planted a few red daikons in my backyard and had a successful harvest. I hadn’t had this type of daikon for years, and my kids had never seen it before. So I was very happy to taste it again and show it to my kids.

This spring I decided to move the daikon patch to the corner closer to the sprinkler head area where the soil is more moist. I was hoping with more water the taste of daikon would be sweeter and less stringent. So I switched the spots of my sunsugar tomato plants with the daikon. The sunsugar only yielded a single grape sized tomato last year. I didn’t have much hope this year and just planted for fun.

The daikon seeds sprouted early and grew very well. They survived the March freeze.  In April, there’s plenty water and sunshine at that corner. The daikon sprouts filled the corner lot. Soon little white flowers started blooming. Later, the flower shoots started to grow tall with more and more flowers. That’s when I got worried. I vaguely remembered that when grown in the spring the daikon tends to bolt instead of producing fruit. Of course this was confirmed by a quick google search. How come they didn’t bolt last year? After some observation, I realized that the southwest corner of my yard got more sunshine in the spring. With all that sunshine the daikon perceived a warm environment and chose the path of reproduction! Well, no daikon for now. But with all those flowers I collected a lot of seeds. When fall comes I’ll remember to get them going again.

The sunsugar plants on the mid-south section of my yard had only one survivor after the March freeze. But it started to grow well in April. Little yellow flowers emerged. Because of its location the plant stayed in shade most of the morning and got sunshine in the afternoon. The coolness of the location allowed pollenization and fruit setting, because tomato plants typically do not set fruits when the temperature rises above 90F which happens early in Texas. In June the sunsugar plant grew huge, plenty of green little tomatoes hang on the bush. Little by little the fruits grew to grape size, the color turned to a golden yellow. When I was able to gently collect the fruits off the plant, I couldn’t wait to rinse them and put a couple in my mouth. They were absolutely delicious!

What a difference a location made. The two types of plants showed different traits and thrived totally differently with such a small location change. I can’t help wondering what happens to people. What about us, our kids? Perhaps sometimes we should be brave, break our routine, make a change, try out new things, or bring on new challenges. And perhaps we will like it J

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Perot Museum - by Nicholas

On July 4, 2013, Independence Day, my parents decided that we would visit the Perot Museum. The Perot Museum was a 6 story, 170 ft tall building featuring 5 floors of exhibits, both interactive and informative. 

Perot Museum

Water molecules
Life Hall
 In the lobby, we could already see dinosaur skeletons and water molecule models. After passing through, we walked down the musical stairs to the lower levels. There, they featured the recycled reef, where recycled materials were used to build a ‘reef’ with cardboard animals, and algae made of paper. Information was also given on recycling. When we had all finished designing and decorating our animals, we put them into the reef and left for other Exhibits. We interacted, read information, tried all the activities, but most importantly, had fun. We continued through the rest of the exhibits like this, learning, playing, having fun, it all made up for an amazing experience. On the upper floors the exhibits were about engineering, medical sciences, the Earth and some natural disasters, the universe, geophysics and prehistoric life, mainly dinosaurs and birds.
earthquake simulator

My favorite singular activity was the earthquake simulator where a platform shook as though an earthquake had happened. Also on the third floor, I enjoyed making waves, and looking at a machine that created  a mini tornado, which was completely harmless. My favorite floor however was the fourth floor. It talked about the Big Bang, stars, universes, and light. It was very informative and I learned many new things.

It was a very informative trip, I learned many new things about neurons, proteins, energy sources, aerodynamics, and such; I also wholly enjoyed my time there, while operating model cars, and playing around with a wooden mirror. I hope to visit another, similar museum, sometime soon.

mommy in front the wooden mirror