Do Your Spawnlings Wear Sunglasses?

sunglasses-featureI wear sunglasses all the time. Seriously, every day. Take a look at my profile picture. The spawnlings each have their own pair as well. However, shopping for sunglasses is a tiring exercise.

I recently did a review on some sunglasses over on GeekMom. Yes, I scored some freebies for it (perks of blogging). To be completely honest, I was really wary about any sunglasses purchased online. Remember, I am of the bespectacled species; pretty much useless if my prescripted lenses are even slightly out.

I also grew up in Northern Australia. Sunglasses are part of the uniform when you cross the border. And if the sunglasses aren’t meeting the grade, it will cost you big time in headaches, eyestrain, and a bunch of other health factors.

The idea of buying sunglasses online was as appealing as shopping in person–which I hate.

The thing is, how do you know you’re buying quality before you hand over your cash? You look for reviews of people who truly put something to the same testing you would.

And yes. My spawnlings like to destroy things.

So here’s the review for you again, in a more “Evil Genius Mum” standard. Again, you can read the full review over at GeekMom, with full costs and links; I’m just expanding upon the testing and suitability for each spawnling.

For the energetic 3-year-old honey badger

Zaltu is three years of pure energy (like a lot of three-year-olds), inspired and motivated by her older brothers. She’ll give anything a go, because “she don’t care!” Zaltu is not a stereotype; she likes all bold colours, surfing the waves with her dad, racing in Mario Kart with her mum, pulling out the DC Superhero Girls dolls, and dreams of being an astronaut. Generally, she likes the idea of sunglasses, but they never stay long on her face because they tend to interfere with whatever chaos ensues.

These Julbo Booba sunglasses have been an absolute hit. Zaltu loves wearing them everywhere. And yes, I do mean everywhere.zaltus-sunglasses

The sunglasses look good. They have bright bold colours with soft enough arms to rest easily on her head. Zaltu has a big head like her mother. We recently learnt Zaltu’s glasses fit an 8-year-old friend. True fact. I was a tad nervous about stretching them, but the sunglasses flexed really well.

The quality of the lenses is fantastic: plastic category-3 lenses, designed for full UV protection. These sunglasses are the genuine product, cutting out the glare so prevalent on both the beach and the ski slopes. And the added wrap-around feature is a boon to both light-leak and fitting on the head.zaltu-julbo-sunglasses

They are also fairly scratch-resistant. Zaltu throws these things everywhere. Yet they come up a lot better than the scratch-resistance I paid for with my sunglasses. They have survived the sandy beach and easily cleaned up afterwards. I’m not sure exactly what they have done, but these sunglasses have completely survived the Summer Holidays of a three-year-old. They are good.

For the experimenting 7-year-old scientist

Nefarious is the scientist, with the curiosity for why things happen (and how to make it go “BOOM!” again). He is the one to think outside the box and push things to the limits.nefarious-sunglasses-polaroid

Aesthetically, the style is a little more “classic cool” with bolder colours to choose from. They are the perfect transition point between the high-energy fun of the Julbos and the more conservative frames for the older kids. These frames are a harder plastic but not so hard as to stick into a kid’s head.

The good thing about the harder plastic frames: they have survived tree climbing, being sat on by Sinister, and a short but effective game of tug-o-war with Zaltu. The frames have a small amount of flex to the structure, but not so much to bounce out a lens.

Of course, Nefarious loved the reflective lenses because they hide his eyes. Yes, I did explain to him about the practicality of the lenses, but he didn’t care. He is seven. He just loves rolling his eyes at me behind those shades.nefarious-polaroid-sunglasses

Only downside: they don’t wrap around and stop the light leak on the side. However, Nefarious says he hates that style. So clearly this is my issue, and I should be grateful he has sunnies he is willing to wear.

For the smooth 10-year-old chilling out

Sinister is the more subtle of the three spawnlings. While he loves to be the class clown, he only likes the attention if he is in control of it. At heart, he is quite conservative and deep-in-thought. Sinister is the one to sit back and watch you from behind his sunglasses, playing out a million and one scenarios in his head.sinisters-sunglasses

Again, smooth, classic style but in a colour variant he likes. These are the hardest plastic of all the frames. There is no flex in the arms whatsoever. The true test of comfort: Sinister is still wearing these on top of his sunburnt nose and there is no pain.

Like his brother, Sinister also likes the mirrored lenses. He also appreciates the single colour scheme, as he feels a little more ‘grown-up’. What I did notice with this pair is that the frames are ever so slightly curved to the face. Even though they are not fitted, they do provide a bit more protection to the eyes on the sides.sinister-sunglasses

See those water droplets in the photo above? No watermark. Not sure exactly what special feature that is, but from a prescripted lens point of view (who hates any smudge or scratch on her glasses) this is AMAZING. What kind of dark magic is this?!? And how do I score some!!

Each of these sunglasses survived the Spawnling Test Zone; buried at the beach, thrown across the room, sat on by older brothers, running through water features, spinning around and around on a spinning teacup. The worst they seem to have is a slightly loose screw in one arm on Zaltu’s sunglasses, which is easily fixed at any glasses shop or with your own tiny screwdriver at home. I wear glasses all the time and a loose screw is nothing new in this family… or in our glasses.

I’m still stunned by how easy it was. Vision Direct is an Australian website, and they deliver anywhere in the world. They provided me with the kids’ sunglasses for reviews, and now I am so impressed I am going back to them for my own prescripted sunglasses (at my own expense).

The hardest part of the whole process was probably measuring Zaltu’s face for her glasses—have you recently asked a three-year-old to stand still for 10 seconds?

My Spawnlings Drive Me Crazy

There comes a time in every parents’ life when they look at their precious little spawnlings and say to themselves, “Good Gods in Hades. What have I created?”

I used to think our spawnlings take after their father, with a healthy dose of my dry wit to keep them fresh and alert. I now realise how wrong I am, and worse still: It is all my own fault.

This realisation came to me last Thursday when the EG Mobile broke.

my-spawnlings-drive-me-crazy

Short story: Zaltu and I started driving home from the doctors’ (just a check-up) and the battery light comes up on the dash. By the time we have covered the 5km back to our home, every light is on and I have lost power steering. I am still surprised I maneuvered that tank up our driveway.

Because I was able to drive it (and other factors), we figured it was the alternator, not the battery. I called a mobile mechanic, who would be there the next day. No problem. I can walk to school to pick up the boys, and we’ll just miss martial arts that day.

Sinister was first to meet us at the school-gate.

We’re not going to martial arts today, buddy.

“Why not?”

The car’s broken.

“What did you do to it this time?!?”

Now, given he has a fairly good reason for this response. In the last 3 years, I have sideswiped 2 poles. Two stationary cement poles. The first was totally my fault for not checking my mirrors when backing out of a carpark space. The second was totally not my fault since another car was heading straight for me and the only space I had was to scrape the damn pole. I know I should have let the guy hit us for insurance purposes, but since he over-corrected and started heading for Nefarious’ door I think the pole was the better option.

Prior to these events, I have never NEVER crashed my car.

But the spawnlings don’t know this. They just think their incubator shouldn’t drive near cement poles.

For the record, spawnling, I did nothing to the car. The alternator died and needs replacing.

“The alternator? Is that like a fancy word for ‘passenger side door that was taken off by a cement pole’?”

trolling-meAnd there you have it, folks. Sinister is my own personal troll. That’s exactly the same sarcastic wit I have been using as my primary language for the last 40-odd years. Clearly he does listen to me… At times.

Nefarious was next to join us, and I told him the same: Not going to martial arts because the car is broken.

“What did you do to it this time, mum?”

Sinister: “Hey, that’s what I said!”

I can’t even be mad at them. Not only have I created the scenario, but I have total admiration for their quick wit. Both of them.

Suffice to say, both spawnlings have lived to tell the tale to their father, who is conveniently away in the US for work and thus a safe distance to laugh long and hard at his poor suffering wife.

 

Edit: BTW–This isn’t the first time EG Dad has been absent during a household Chaos-Event. Last time was the Broken Wrist v Broken Fridge event. Convenient, don’t you think?

 

Forensic Friday: Our Dinosaur Project

It seems ‘world creating’ has become a thing in the EG Lair.

It all started with Sinister building his own terrarium for a school project last term (which he scored 93%… Such a good little evil genius…) – 3 months later and it is still going strong, without any further interaction. Not bad for a 9yo.

This type of experiment started us thinking: “why not incorporate some other real-life elements in our plays?”

And thus the Dinosaur Project began.


The Dinosaur Project

All of our elements were already around the home, but you can pick them up from your nearest shops for a fairly reasonable cost:

  • A large pot
  • Enough soil to fill it
  • One or two plants – we chose two dwarf palms as they look like plants from a prehistoric era, plus they were left-overs from Sinister’s terrarium
  • One large styrofoam cone
  • One plastic container – like a takeaway container
  • A dozen or so small toy dinosaurs
  • Paint – brown, red, and blue

What did we do:

  1. Fill the pot with the soil – ours was already full, but did require some weeding.
  2. Paint the inside of your plastic container blue – you don’t have to but it did add to the aesthetics.
  3. Snap the top off the styrofoam cone. Don’t be too worried about neatness; you want it to be a little rough. You’re painting the sides brown, and the top red – Look! It’s a volcano!
  4. While you wait for the paint to dry, kick in to the gardening with your plants.
  5. Now you can add your volcano and your primordial swamp. I think we can do more with the swamp/lake but we can do that another day. In the meantime… RAWR!!!

Zaltu is loving this little play area. She is really into the role-playing side, but I also noticed how quickly she picked up the carnivore / herbivore discussion we had earlier.

I would consider the Dinosaur Project a success. Now we are thinking of other ‘world creating’ play areas we can make!! 

Any suggestions?

Sinister Gives Life

Last week, Sinister did all the prep work for his terrarium: Cleaning; and Foundation Layers.

Now it is time to bring life to his project!

  
Not all of these plants are going in – and especially not all of the Maidenhair Fern! Sinister is also doing a smaller ‘back-up terrarium’ in a 3L OJ bottle with one or two of these plants. 

The plants that made the cut-off for the demijohn are:

  • Maidenhair Fern
  • Peperomia Peppermill
  • Ficus Benjamina Var

The Parlour Palm almost made it but he was concerned about space.

This is important – you do not want to crowd your terrarium. You need to create a balance of life-cycle with moisture, light, and air-flow. Too many plants and you start to lose light and moisture while creating the wrong balance in air-flow.

If you’re observant (and all aspiring Evil Genius should be), you have noticed the Maidenhair Fern … And how big it is. 

Good news is: ferns are fairly easy to break up. Sinister found a “how-to” video on Martha Stewart’s website. Seriously. Despite her jail time, she is pretty close to EG-material.

Divide and Conquer:

Any plant you put in has to fit through the opening. 

Maidenhair Fern can be divided fairly easily with a knife. Find the nodes on the plant (cluster points for the roots) and cut around them.

  
Once you have loosened up the roots drop it in to the terrarium on the end of a stick, if you can balance it. 

When putting the foundation layers in, Sinister used a tube to direct the flow. That probably would have worked here too. 
 
  Once in the vessel, move the plant gently with a long stick. When you have it in place, gently push the plant into the soil with the stick.

Each plant needs to have space away from the others (just like any sibling relationship). Sinister used some long-ish tweezers to “direct” his drop. His aim was pretty good. 

  
The last step was to add a little top up soil for the plants, and a few table-spoons of water.  Enough to moisten the soil but don’t saturate it. The condensation cycle should start within a day or two, and that should start producing enough moisture for your plants.

  
And that, my dear minions, is Sinister’s Self-Sustained Terrarium.

He is now in ‘Observation/Maintenance Mode’; Checking it every day and noting down any changes or maintenance required. This project is due for submission at the end of March so we’ll keep you updated then.
UPDATE: Sinister received 94% for the entire project, with special mention and a Merit Award for his terrarium. The teacher was most impressed with his detailed report on all of the steps preparing and building the mini-ecosystem. There’s the secret, minions: write EVERYTHING down. 

UPDATE: 12 months later – and the terrarium is still going strong. One of the plants has brown leaves but is not dead. Condensation is still cycling inside and it looks strong and healthy. Man, he really knows how to do a science project! 

 

Preparing Your Own EG World

If you really want to create your own world to conquer and command, you need to do some prep work.

For those tuning in for the first time (slackers): Sinister has chosen to build his own self-sustaining terrarium for a science project. He has already researched what he needs and the environment he needs to create; we bought a demijohn (glass jar) and he has cleaned it up.

Today, he is preparing the foundation for the plants.

The first thing he realised was how narrow the opening was. No matter what he puts in there, he needs to be careful putting it in. 

Sinister came up with the idea of a funnel and a conical style tube – like a long straw. By using the long tube, he could control how much of each substance would disperse at the bottom, limiting the mess at the bottom. 

It’s not just a matter of dumping some soil in the jar and hoping for the best. There are a number of elements to consider:

First layer: Gravel
  

Gravel allows drainage, preventing water from pooling in your soil and rotting the roots.

Second layer: Charcoal

Charcoal is great for cleaning out toxins, in the soil and the air. This helps prevent too many micro-organisms in your set-up. 

Third layer: Sand

  

Sand is, again, about drainage but it also gives some stability to the plants’ roots.

Fourth layer: Soil

The final and crucial layer, but don’t lay it on too thick. Keep it a little moist but not heavy in the plants.

There is a magical ratio for the layers, providing a good foundation while allowing plenty of air-flow with the condensation cycle.

One third of your terrarium should be made of materials which are not air.

 Sinister explained the importance of ‘air-space’: the air-flow ensures the plants have fresh nutrients both above and below the surface. It allows sunlight to come through, which is a nutrient, and encourages the condensation cycle to distribute evenly through the terrarium. Stagnant air chokes the plants and that is bad for everything. 

 
Ignore the ruler propaganda – it was the closest ruler he could find. The point here is to measure your environment and plan your layers accordingly. 

So now the foundation is in, Sinister just needs to figure out how to put the plants in. 

  
I reckon he is up for the challenge. 

Sinister Cleans Up – DIY Terrarium

Sinister is starting off his school year by creating his own world to command and conquer.

I like this teacher already.

Sinister is in Year 5 OC (Opportunity Class – like a Gifted program in the public school system). In Science they are studying Space – Significant astronomers; Creation of the Golden Record; How to Survive in Alien Environments (biospheres).

As part of his assignment, Sinister has chosen to develop his own terrarium, focussing on the creation of a self-sustaining environment.

It’s a huge project but he is already noticing how to break it up into smaller scientific components.

For example: we bought a demijohn glass jar on eBay for $20 to house his terrarium (with cork plug). However, it needed a clean.

After a bit of research, Sinister came up with the following:

Hypothesis: That we can clean the demijohn with vinegar and uncooked rice; that the vinegar would wash and disinfect the jar without leaving a heavy chemical residue; that the rice would lightly scrub the jar without scratching.

Method:

  1. Pour about a litre of plain white vinegar into the large demijohn.  
  2. Add about a cup of uncooked rice  
  3. Put in the cork and shake it like a Polaroid picture… Well, make sure you use two hands; it’s heavy!!
  4. Empty out the vinegar and rice
  5. Rinse out with copious amounts of water.

Results:

  

Damn thing pretty much glistens. This mini-experiment produced the exact results he was looking for.
Next week: Sinister figures out how to fill and build the soil layers for his terrarium. That’s a tight neck there on the demijohn … But he has a plan!