Monday, December 23, 2013

Advent Project

I had the dubious privilege of witnessing the most bizarre tantrum a few weeks ago. When we were at a pet store with my in-laws, my father-in-law gave Doug some change he had gotten back after he made his purchase. Doug took the change and headed back to the cash register area, looked around and then wailed, "There's no box!!!". We were all quite confused. I asked him what he meant. He explained, "There's no box, for the kids!". And then it dawned on me, "Like at McDonald's? When I give you my change for the kids in the hospital?". "YES!". I  told him that the pet store didn't have a box for that, but if he liked, we could drop it off the next time we were at McDonald's. He seemed to like that idea, but whined about it for a bit on the car ride home. I was finally at wits end with this and told him when we got home, I'd stick the change in an envelope and mail it to Ronald McDonald. He seemed to be satisfied with that.

I started thinking about it though and it seemed like this was an opportunity for one of those 'teachable moments'. When we got home I asked him instead if he's like to collect change until Christmas and then drop off a lot of change at once for Ronald McDonald House. He agree and we decorated an old bottle (with glitter glue, naturally). We've collected quite a bit of change and Doug is always very excited when Jeff and I give him some more. At some point tomorrow, we'll all go together and drop it off. I'm amazed at how excited Doug is about it and how well he's stuck with it. I think this is a nice Christmas tradition for us to adopt. I think we'll definitely pick a charity and do the same thing next year.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stump the Doctor

Every few years it seems like my body likes to play a good game of 'Stump the Doctor'. I will present with a handful of symptoms, some of which can be neatly attributed to a specific diagnosis. I will also have a few other symptoms that don't quite fit and I'll also be missing a few factors that doctors deem key for a diagnosis of that particular condition. And I'll go from doctor to doctor, seeking answers and getting none, all the while suffering from an untreated condition.

 My all time favorite remains a diagnosis of possible gout from a previous primary doctor. She heard me say that my legs, among other things, hurt. She could find nothing else wrong and would not entertain my notion that it was in fact, fibromyalgia. I eventually found a doctor who also believed it was fibro and got treatment for it. But it was a long painful time. It's hard to be sick and suffering through an illness and then, on top of it, have doctors unable or unwilling to explore options. Now I get a kick out of the whole gout debacle. When I have an odd pain, I'll tell Jeff that it must be gout. "This feels like an ear infection, but it's probably gout of the ear.".

Well, it seemed lately that I'd developed uterine gout.* It started at least before January, but I specifically remember in January going to see my ob gyn about it. It's a large practice and I like most of the doctors, so I was comfortable seeing anyone there. I went in and complained that it had been six months since we started trying to get pregnant. I know, I know, they need at least a year before they'll do anything, but we got pregnant right away with Doug. I was scared to wash our clothes together after he was born. Anyway, mid cycle I was having some stabbing, aching pains. And please, I know all about Mittelschmerz** (mid cycle pain some women experience during ovulation, lasting at MOST two days). It was dismissed as normal and we were sent on our merry way. I went back to see another ob sometime that Spring, complaining of the same thing, except now the pain was lasting four days. I got another pat on the head and everything is fine.

So in July we came up against the magical one year of trying to conceive deadline. I went back to my ob and explained the situation and the pain again, which was still growing. I was having a LOT of pain mid-cycle and certain activities produced pain and I was having the same, dull ache and stabbing feeling on my period now too. My doctor sent me to a local (large) fertility clinic to get sorted out. We were hopeful that at last we'd get to the bottom of this.

The clinic, before talking to us, before doing any tests or looking at the MOUNDS of personal health histories we filled out, told us that our options were either IUI or IVF. We were a bit confused. We thought they would diagnose and FIX the fertility issue, not simply overcome it. It was somewhat like being told your house was going to have to be burned down to kill a small infestation of mice. Anyway, they couldn't find anything wrong with me and weren't willing to look into the now horrible pain I was having every month. It was a rather disappointing waste of time, but at least we didn't get $20k into it before finding out it wouldn't work. We're extremely blessed to have Doug, and we're ok if we end up being a family of three. So we weren't super interested in going that route.

I went back to my obgyn's office a total of three more times, seeing three more doctors trying to get to the bottom of the pain. One finally ordered a more detailed ultrasound to be done while I was in pain. It didn't show anything. The only thing the doctor could come up with is that the mid-cycle pain is setting off some inflammation and I'm sensitive to that. That doesn't explain why it gets progressively worse each month. The last time I went back, I ended up going on the pill. The doctor couldn't think of anything else to do for me. The pain was lasting nine days now, and my cycles were getting shorter, 25 days. I needed a breather from the pain and I just wanted to get through the holidays at this point. So, despite the fact that we're trying to get pregnant, I'm on the pill for the next three months.

Today I finally met a doctor who believed me when I said something was very wrong, and confirmed my suspicions. It seems likely that I have endometriosis. We won't know for sure unless a surgery is done to confirm it. Endometriosis doesn't show up on any scans. Some women with just a little bit of endo have extreme pain, while other with tons of endo have little to no pain. My symptoms didn't suggest 'classic endometriosis' as my doctors have been telling me. Unfortunately, their expertise is limited to pap smears, birthing babies, normal pregnancies and writing scripts for the pill. So I finally found a doctor who has expertise in dealing with endo and other disorders.

 It was such a sweet relief to have a doctor take me seriously. Right now the plan is to stay on the pill for a few months and then come off of it and see what happens. It's a possibility that I may have surgery in the spring. We'll just have to wait and see.

But it's so nice now to have a doctor on my side and to know I have options and to get a better grasp on what I'm up against!

It's also a comfort to know there are so many ladies out there with endometriosis. I've met a few in the past few months, and it's always nice to know you're not alone.

And thank you to everyone who has been supportive of me during this time, Jeff, Bridget, and my Mom who has watched Doug for about a 100 hours while I went to the doctors.

For a while, I contemplated taking in a show and tell of what my uterus felt like when I was in pain. Initially, I envisioned a grape fruit and my largest knitting needles. I decided though, that play doh and toothpicks were less messy. 

*No, I don't think that's a real thing. And I don't want to know if it is. I'm not trying to belittle gout either.  I know it's a painful and horrible condition. I just think it's hilarious my doctor was so off target. You have to find some things funny or else you'll never get through them.

**I think more weird pains need to be given German names. I don't think people would make fun of PMS if it had a German sounding "I WILL KICK YOUR BUTT" name. Seriously. Mittelschmerz sounds like pain on steroids.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Trade

Doug has managed to put many baby things away without complaint, the stroller, the high chair, his crib and quite an assortment of toys. But not the Baby Einstein Aquarium. He's on his third one. The first one broke within a year, and in a panic we ran out to buy one that night, because dude, we need sleep! The second one broke within a few months and I emailed the manufacturer, who sent me a replacement free of charge. That was about 18 months ago. 

We kept hoping that he would outgrow the need for this battery devouring toy. Every two-ish weeks we'd need to replace all four C batteries in it. We hoped when he went into a regular bed he wouldn't need it. No such luck. I bought him a Sleep Sheep (we've replaced its batteries twice in 18 months) in the hopes that just the soothing white noise from it was enough. No dice. Recently we'd taken to just asking him if he could possibly sleep without it. HA! I realized that he wasn't going to take it off to college, but I thought it was about time to gently disengage him from it.

Last week I saw our opportunity coming. I was singing him his lullabies, and I kept hearing a clicking sound. I noticed that it was coming from the infamous aquarium. There was a small tear in the background, and every time it went around it caught. I came to the conclusion that one of two things was going to happen in the near future: 1. it was going to just catch and tear off completely or 2. tear enough to impede the progress of the scroll. Either way, it was close to breaking.  I began to imagine a nightmarish scenario in which it broke in the middle of the night and we had an inconsolable child on our hands, possibly sleeping in our bed (which is a HELL no). 

I decided to be proactive and head this dilemma off at the pass. I turned to the old parental stand by: bribery.  I began looking for a toy so amazingly awesome that Doug would trade the aquarium for it. I found a game called 'Lucky Ducks' there are twelve ducks in a moving pond that go around Ernie from Sesame Street. There are four groups of  ducks, each set of three have the same shape on their bottoms, so it's a matching game. Doug is quite the duck enthusiast, so it was perfect! I ordered the game and oddly enough, it was delivered on a Sunday. We came back from church and a package was sitting on our porch. I told Doug it wa a surprise for him (always a sure way to get him all worked up). As I opened the box I noticed that the batteries were not included, it needed two C batteries. So we told Doug he could have this game, but only if we got the aquarium, because we needed the batteries from it. I couldn't have planned it better if I had tried. 

I thought that Doug might hem and haw over this trade for a few hours to days, but I was willing to give him time. What I wasn't prepared for was him skipping down the hall to hand us the aquarium so we could butcher it for batteries. As you can see, Doug was clearly pleased with this arrangement: 

As I expected, bedtime Sunday night was a bit rough. Jeff has moved Doug's night light closer to his bed as Doug primarily used the aquarium as a night light when he woke up in the middle of the night. Doug asked to have a flashlight in bed, but I offered to loan him something else. I'd had a glow worm when I was Doug's age and when I was in college my mom gave me one as a nostalgic gift. I went and fished it out for Doug and he's able to give it a squeeze when he needs a little extra light. All in all, I think the trade has worked out quite well. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Skit Skat Skoodle Doot

I've been wanting to make something for one of Doug's favorite books for a long time. By Thursday afternoon I'd already been to the gym, the house was clean, I was caught up on my bible study, Doug was down for a nap and the banana bread was in the oven baking (believe me, I'm not nearly this organized with life) and I found myself with some time on my hands. Break out the craft box!

Doug loves the book 'Chicka Chicka Boom Boom' by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault. He can recite long bits of it with you. Frequently when I'm trying to corral him into the car because we're running late (so normal) I'll say to him "Skit skat skoodle doot!" to which he'll reply "Flip flop flee, everybody running to the coconut tree, mamas and papas, uncles and aunts, hug their little dears and dust their pants!".

Anyway, I've been wanting to use it to help introduce lower case letters to him, as the book is very familiar.

So I cut out a strip of brown felt for the trunk of the coconut tree. I cut it diagonally to maximize the amount of felt I had to work with. The pointy, Washington Monument-y end of it is also a great place to attach the   palm fronds.


Then I took two different shades of green felt to make the fronds, I made five fronds in all: 

Next I took some fabric glue and glued them all to the trunk: 

Next I cut out three brown circles for coconuts and glued them to the tree: 

While I let that sit and dry, I got to work on the letters. I used Times New Roman for most of the letters, except 'a' and 'g' because I wanted them to look more like they do when you write them. I used 200 point font for them. Each upper and lower case pair are the same color. I printed them out on cardstock: 

Yes, it's been a long time since I've had a manicure.

Then I fired up my trusty laminator and laminated all the sheets. After they were laminated, I cut them out and applied some sticky back velcro to their backs. The squares I had were on the larger side, so I cut each square into quarters. 

That was probably the most tedious part of the project.

The finished product: 

I made a felt board a while ago by taking some felt and stretching it over a thick craft board and stapling it on. Actually, Jeff did the stapling, you need some serious muscle to do it.

Doug was elated. He made sure some letters were falling out of the tree.

Time to flip flip flee!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Just the Two of Us

I cherish my one on one time with Doug. We go to story time together. I ferry him to his gym classes and to pre-school. We run errands to Target and Walmart and to the grocery store. We explore new places together, Wegman's, the bouncy place and new playgrounds. Sometimes we stop for snacks when we're out running around. We'll have some coffee and juice and split a muffin at Starbucks. We'll share an order of medium Mcdonald's fries at Walmart. He is my little buddy, my side kick.

 He wants to be like Daddy, but he wants to be like Mommy too. He insists on getting a box of animal crackers at Wegman's because he needs his "purse" (the box of animal crackers comes with a string handle). I feel like we're on a team when we're out and about together. As much as I'd love an addition to our family, I'm glad that Doug is getting so much one on one time with me. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2009 Called, It Wants Its Jeans Back

So over the spring and summer, Jeff and I decided to work harder to eat better foods and exercise more. Jeff is doing really well, and I'm getting there slowly and surely (read: I'm considering mailing my thyroid death threats).

Anyway, I wore the same pairs of capris and shorts all summer long. Yesterday it was finally cool enough for me to drag my jeans out of the closet (less than 60 degrees means I put on jeans, 58 is when I consider sneakers instead of sandals). So I wore my favorite pair of jeans to Doug's preschool and then to a few errands afterwards. The thing with most of my jeans is that they have a bit of stretch in the denim. This usually makes them quite comfortable. However, they were already a bit big due to my weight loss. So as the day wore on, they stretched more and more. After dinner I was getting ready to head out the door for the evening and I wanted to look like a nice pulled together person, I didn't want to go for the 'frazzled mom' look that I so often employ. So I took a shower and threw on the same jeans I'd been wearing all day. The crotch had now almost stretched down to my knees. Not a great look. Running late and frantic I began to tear through my closet for the jeans I bought after Doug was born (pregnancy was evidently a great weight loss tool, who knew?). I managed to find one pair that fit really well except that it was longish and needed to be worn with boots. I found some thick soled mary janes and a nice top and was finally on my way out the door.

That evening when I got back I resolved to rescue my smaller jeans from storage in the basement. I found my fugly maternity jeans first. I have no idea who thought pregnant women wanted whiskered jeans, but I could never find a pair that wasn't. I finally located my smaller jeans, and lo and behold, they are whiskered too! Ugh. My jeans are evidently trapped in the 2009-2010 fashion season. At least I promise (for now) not to wear my crocs with them.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Under the Influence

I was at a bible study the other night watching a video discussion about the early church. One of the people in the video made a reference to "the One" and then said she felt like she was in the Matrix. I was the only one who laughed. And if you're familiar with my laugh, you know it's rather loud and braying. One of the moderators in the bible study made it worse by making a reference to the Borg. Yet again, I was the only one who found that amusing (and loudly). As I was driving home, I began to wonder what had happened to bring me over into the geek side.

Before I met Jeff, I did toe the geek line a good bit. I've always loved to read, and I am intrigued by science fiction (but I don't read science fiction, don't ask it just works out that way). I mean, I'd seen Star Wars and Star Trek, and enjoyed them, but I never actively sought out those movies or shows. I've been a fan of Harry Potter since the third book (my all time favorite) was published. I enjoyed 'The Hobbit' which I read in middle school. All the elements were there, but it just wasn't quite enough to push me over to the other side.

Then enter Jeff. He was 25 when we met and I was 22. He definitely was in need of refinement. He once wiped his nose on a linen napkin at a restaurant. We've had many discussions about that incident since, but he still doesn't quite get it. He's  becoming more social since my intervention. I introduced him to the 'Inheritance Cycle' by Christopher Paolini (I still have not read that beast of a fourth book). I also introduced him to the 'Hunger Games'. But that pretty much ends my influence on him.

Jeff has way more influence on my tastes. He introduced me to South Park, which I love, and chicken wings, which I also love. Some of my favorite dates with him were at his house eating wings and watching South Park. Jeff also managed to work in a lot more Star Wars. I'd seen the original trilogy, but only the first of the new trilogy (it turned me off of the new trilogy definitely the worst of the 6, in my opinion). He also showed me the remaining two Lord of the Rings*. I'd only seen the first in the theater and read the first book,  I became uninterested after Gandalf died. And he also introduced me to the Matrix, which I like, but is probably my least favorite of them all. I suppose I am now a geek by marriage.

The other night I asked Jeff if we would be considered 'born again trekkies'. We both watched it  (mostly the next generation) here and there growing up. The summer I was pregnant with Doug the first movie of the re-boot came out and we very much enjoyed it. Last summer we re-watched the movie, and afterwards I said that we should add the next generation shows to our dvr. We forgot about it and by the time we did it, it wasn't available on any of our cable channels. We eventually got a Roku (for internet streaming) and we've been watching the show free from Amazon Prime. We're going episode by episode, season by season. We're almost through the second season.

Doug is our little geekling in training. He is very much into Star Wars. He does a mean Chewie and Vader impression. During the Super Bowl, a trailer for the next Star Trek movie was aired. In the trailer, it was quiet for a moment, except for the beeping of the Enterprise. Doug whipped around, "RD2??!". We told him, no, that it was Star Trek and not Star Wars, and please don't ever mix them up again. Doug hasn't seen Star Trek, but he knows we watch it and has asked to watch it too. The geek is strong with this one. I won't even try to influence it out of him.

This is the back of my car. 

*Watching 'The Lord of the Rings' with Jeff is a serious time commitment. He has the extended edition of each movie, so it takes about 12 hours if you want to watch them all. In fact, I was forbidden to buy 'The Hobbit' when it came out on dvd, because Jeff had heard that there was going to be an extended release coming out before Christmas. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

It's the Law

I thought our next science observation should be about gravity, after all, Doug's fallen victim to it many times. I thought that the most fun way to observe gravity in action would be with water balloons. It was decently warm enough over the weekend, so we gave it a go.

Doug's outfit is a bit eclectic here. He wanted to wear his new crocs and his sunglasses with stars on them. It's very Elton John.

We did experience an odd problem with the water balloons. Some of them were very resistant to breaking. We didn't use actual water balloons, in my experience, the mouths of the balloons are too narrow. Anyway, we really had to abuse some of them to get them to break. Jeff tossed some of them twenty fear in the air only to have them bounce when they landed. They were all over filled with water too.

Doug discovered than the concrete patio under the deck was a good place to burst the balloons.

Doug had a blast. He keeps asking about doing it again. This may become a favorite activity with him! I'm not 100% sure how much he learned about gravity, but it was fun.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ebb & Flow

The past eight or nine months of being off of my fibromyalgia medications has been a learning experience. I'm still feeling around for my limits of pain and fatigue and unfortunately, that changes throughout the month making things more complicated than need be. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely good reasons for me to be off my medication. Overall, I'm less fatigued than I had been. I've had a decrease of other side effects as well. It has just taken me a long time to get to know my fibro in this new situation.

Every so often, I go through this internal struggle with my illness. I begin to wonder if I do actually need to limit my activities because of the fibro. I wonder if it's actually the illness that is limiting or it's my own perception of the illness. Basically I wonder, am I lazy or am I sick? And so then I go and do something not really wise.

Last week, I skipped my crash day. It had been a really busy weekend and I rested a bit that Monday, but I thought that Tuesday I could just get up and get on with the things I'd like to do that day. That Tuesday I was fine. Unfortunately, that Wednesday, Jeff's car became compromised and it was old enough and broken enough that it was better to replace it than fix it. Which led to one very long day at a car dealership buying a car and then another long afternoon the next day bringing in our old car to trade in. Basically, I probably would have been okay that week, if not for the emergency. But this week I'm still trying to pick myself back up after a rather long last week, and I wonder how things would have turned out if I'd taken my day to rest.

So that's sort of where my mind set has been the past several weeks. I am tired. I do rationally know that it's due to being ill, but it's still difficult to really wrap my head around that. I am excited and a bit nervous about some new responsibilities and activities I've taken on and will be taking on. Some of them will be short term and other a bit long term. I love being able to get out of the house and interact with other people. I miss trouble shooting, and I'm definitely getting the ability to do it now!

So for now I've decided I'm going to be cautious, but still try new things. Push my limits a bit here and there. Just keep swimming!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tasty Alphabet

I was trying to think of a way to make Doug's lunch more appealing today. This week we have sliced turkey for lunch, and while Doug will eat turkey Lunchables until the cows come home, he won't eat the deli turkey we get. I started out by thinking I might just cut the turkey into little circles for him (like the Lunchable) but then I thought if I was going to go to the trouble that I'd do our letter of the week.

I was a bit doubtful of using plastic cookie cutters on the meat but it worked out quite well. I also did a few slices of American cheese. Doug was absolutely delighted. My only regret is that I didn't think of this sooner! I am definitely going to incorporate this on the rest of our letters!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Fun

It's been a long week around here. Jeff's car rather unexpectedly needed to be replaced. The air compressor stopped working just in time for our 90 degree weather. We were hoping it was a simple cheap fix, but it was not and the car was 13 years old with over 130 k miles on it. Unfortunately I didn't leave extra padding in my week for 'semi emergency car buying' and I'm kinda pooped. But it all ended well and we have a nice actually new car. Due to the long week and a rainy morning, I decided that Doug and I would make brownies. Doug rather enthusiastically agreed. 

Chef Doug suggested putting mini chocolate chips in the brownies. I'm looking forward to the results.

While we were making brownies, Doug's new car-seat arrived. Since Jeff now has a reliable car, we thought we'd probably take it out as a family now and then and we didn't want to have to schlep the car seat back and forth.  I found a model that can become a booster seat in a few years, I thought it was a decent idea.

As you can see, Sir approves of his new car seat. 

Sir is also very excited about the box it came in.

And like many new home owners, he couldn't wait to make modifications on it.

Happy Friday! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Have You Seen This Baby?

This baby used to live with us: 

I'm not sure what happened to him. I think this child may have eaten him:

Happy third birthday to my baby!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Making it Count

I was struggling trying to figure out how and when to introduce the concept of zero to Doug. I thought that if I introduced zero first and he got a number surprise box full of nothing that it would seriously piss Doug off and put him off the number surprise box. I thought that if I delayed its introduction too long, that Doug wouldn't understand that it goes before all the other numbers he knows and not after and that it is indeed less.

 Then one afternoon, it hit me. A number line! I thought about how I wanted to construct it and then I fired up my trusty ole laminator. I used card stock and printed up numbers 0-20 using a rainbow of colors. After I laminated them, I cut them out and attached some velcro using the sides of the laminated pages as tabs:

A bit hard to see due to the camera flash, but nap time seems like its going to be cut short, so I don't have time to re-shoot. There are two tabs on the front side and two on the back side. They all fit very nicely together. I started with the 0-20, but we can add more, all the way up to 100, as we learn along.

Evidently the 20 is just off to the side of the frame, but you get the idea.

Doug loves playing with it. It becomes a roller coaster, a parking lot or train tracks depending on what he wants to drive over it. 

I like to play a number game with it. I put out the number line and we count up and touch each of the numbers as we assemble it, taking special care to point out our number of the week. Once it's all together I ask Doug to bring me the week's number in certain objects.

For example, I asked him to bring me eight cars:

And then eight fish:

And then we ran out of Disney/Pixar toys, but you get the idea. We never put anything on the 0 obviously, but we talk about how it's a place holder. I know that Doug doesn't grasp that concept quite yet, but I've begun to plant the seed. I plan to cover the number zero after we do the number ten.
Happy counting!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Am I the Only One....

Who wants to go and put a broom on the end of my cart and joust with other mothers in the store? 

Friday, February 1, 2013

I'm a Monster

I've been microwaving this adorable bear. The bear looks kind of depressed sitting on the plate there. I found these bears around Christmas. You can nuke the bears and they have corn in them which gives off a nice moist heat for aches. I bought one for a friend of mine and I thought about buying one for myself, but at the time, I decided I wouldn't really need it.

Anyway, this is my first winter since my fibromyalgia diagnosis that I have not been taking medication for it. I didn't really think anything of it, but apparently the colder temperatures mean that I ache much more than usual. After several night of hauling the heating pad into bed with me, I gave in and purchased one of these delightful bears.

Doug was very excited when he saw the Amazon box on our porch the other day. The last time we got a package, it had Beta Bet in it, so he was hopeful for another fun thing. I made the mistake of telling him there was a bear in the box. We opened it and Doug claimed the bear for himself. I told him that he could play with it, but that it was mine. I told him that it was a special bear that I could put it in the microwave and it would help me feel better. That just freaked Doug out, "NOOOO DON'T MICROWAVE THE BEAR!!!".  So alas, I feel like a horrible person every time I nuke it. Well, I feel horrible until I put the bear on my shoulder, then I feel much better.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Scientific Saturday

Last week we got a shipment of delicious Kansas City barbeque in the mail. The restaurant over nights the package and ships it in dry ice. Jeff was not home when the package arrived, so I put the dry ice in the freezer, because I knew he had to play with it later. So, later that night when Jeff got home, he got out the dry ice and placed it in a pot with some water. You can see the result below. 

Doug was totally enthralled with this phenomena of cold billowing gas. We began to explain to him that the dry ice was very, very cold, and putting it in the water made it get warm quickly and turn into a gas. Doug looked at me and said, "From the car?". I then explained that the stuff in the car is called gasoline, and is different. I explained a bit about what gasses are, but as to be expected, most of it went over his head. He really did enjoy playing with the dry ice though.

The whole experience began to set wheels in motion in my head. I decided that once a month we'd do a little science experiment or science observation with Doug. We can use these little experiments and observations to increase his knowledge of how the world works and help him develop some critical thinking. And just plain have fun.

Our first experiment involved floating and sinking objects. I took a large bucket and filled it with water. We gathered some objects that we knew would sink or float and would be water proof. We then asked Doug what he thought each object would do before he tossed it in the bucket. He was able to guess a few of them, and just had a blast.

 Floating and sinking was a nice, easy first experiment as he's already seen the concept in action. I'd like to do one of those exploding volcanoes some time. I think in the spring we'll also talk about gravity, using water balloons. We'll probably also do something with shadows too. Doug is very interested in the phases of the moon, so we'll see what we can set up to talk about that. I'm very excited about our new activity!

Friday, January 25, 2013

An Open Letter of Apology

Dear Parents of my former students,

I am so sorry that I bribed rewarded your child with stickers (many, MANY stickers). I too, now know the horror of having a child covered in a thousand small stickers. A sticker covered child is still better than one hopped up on sweets though, right?

My sincerest apologies,

A Mommy that has stickers EVERYWHERE! 

This is Doug's potty chart. Every time he uses the potty he gets a sticker for himself and a sticker on the chart. As you can see, about three and a half weeks ago, the whole potty training thing (well, at least half of it) finally clicked for him. We started running out of room on the chart.


 The stickers inevitably fall off his shirt though and end up all over the house and in the laundry. Here is Fillmore (from Cars, duh) on my kitchen floor:

Here is Chick Hicks in my living room:

Here is the much sought after Mater sticker on my dining room floor:

And then, of course there is this, which drives Jeff batty:

 the bottoms of my flip-flops that I wear around the house. They invariably pick up all the loose stickers that aren't cemented to the floor. I'd hate to see what the inside of our vacuum looks like!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Beta Bet

 Meet our new resident monster, Beta Bet! He just arrived this morning from Monster Land (Amazon). He really has an appetite for letters, but he likes to know what he's eating, so you need to tell him the name of the letter you're feeding him first.

This is Beta Bet's older brother, Alpha Bet. Alpha Bet is being sent back to Monster Land because his mommy misses him. It has nothing to do with the fact that he's made out of mere paper and may not be long for this world. Doug loves feeding him so much that I couldn't just stop the game, and I really didn't want to have to make a new monster every few months. My knowledge of the Greek alphabet is quite limited.

 Doug loves Beta Bet now too. We'll probably use the cardboard box he came in to build him a nice cave to sleep in.

In case you're curious, Beta Bet is a Melissa & Doug product called 'Make Your Own Monster Puppet'. All the pieces are velcro, and much like Mr. Potato head, you can mix and match them. The only potential drawback I see so far is that it's designed for a child. My hand is a bit cramped working its mouth. I wonder how well Jeff will be able to use the puppet. Other than that, I love it so far.

That is all I plan to accomplish today. I have a monstrous cold and am going to climb back onto the couch! Ttfn!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Knit & Knat

I've picked up knitting again. It was either knitting or sky-diving. Knitting has the added benefit of being portable and something I can do while I watch tv. Sky-diving, not so much. I learned to knit in college, classes were offered (non-credit) through the student union. I only ever learned how to make a knit stitch though. My project for the class was this humungous knit purse. I forgot to account for the fact that knit materials are stretchy and the very long shoulder strap I made went past my knees! But I digress.

My cell phone drove me back into knitting again. That sounds odd, but let me explain. For some unknown reason, despite a few resets and two software upgrades, my phone will randomly light up in the middle of the night while it's charging. It lights up when it finishes charging, but also lights up every now and again just for the fun of it. My phone charges next to my side of the bed on a table. I had hoped that turning the phone over would help, but enough light comes out the sides to be annoying when I'm trying to sleep. I'll just about doze off and then my phone will light up, mocking me; "Oh, were you just about asleep? TOO BAD!". I had stuffed it in a sock for a while, but the phone didn't fit well with the plug on. I had decided that at some point I was going to knit a cozy for my phone, and I finally got around to it:


You can see how skillful I am with knitting needles! (or not). I knitted a long strip, folded it up and stitched up the sides.  I forgot how to finish projects, and the end unraveled on me a bit. I managed to fix it, but I imagine that this cozy won't last forever. It's doing a great job keeping the phone from lighting up the room though.

Through the Bloggess I heard about this charitable organization called Project Night Night . Project Night Night makes up these tote bags for homeless children that have a security blanket, a stuffed animal and a bedtime book in it. They take donations of  new and homemade items. I really enjoyed knitting, to the point that if I wasn't knitting I was wishing I was. Knitting while I watch tv also means that my hands are too busy to snack. Anyway, I had all this yarn sitting around from college and I thought I'd knit a blanket and mail it to this organization.

I particularly liked the look and feel of this yarn:


It's a homespun yarn and I thought I would knit a nice, simple, soft one piece blanket out of it. Not so much. It was very difficult for me to work with. I'm not sure if I needed smaller needles, more skill or if it is better for crocheting with. So I put it aside for maybe another project later.

I ended up finding some multicolored 'baby' blanket style yarn in my collection. I went out and bought some green and yellow yarn to match it. I decided to make squares, two multicolored squares per row, separating the green and yellow squares. Something like this, but not in a diamond pattern: 

I also found this pretty multicolored baby yarn with pretty silvery thread wound through it:


It's probably a little difficult to see it in the picture, but trust me, it's pretty. I thought I'd use that to knit a border for the blanket.

I like the idea of knitting squares and sewing them all together. I'm hoping that it will be studier than one knit piece that could fall to pieces with one broken thread. It's probably going to take me a while to finish this project, I am a slooooow knitter! I'm sure my craft club will get sick of seeing it!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The 'A-B-Cindys'

The literacy project is coming along. We took a break for the month of December. We had started the letter 'F' when my in-laws came to visit, but then we got busy doing fun things with them, so I put 'F' on the shelf for a while. I decided to wait until the holidays were over to re-do 'F'. I probably could have moved on if it was another letter, but Doug was still confusing it with 'E'.  Doug is doing pretty well with the alphabet song too. He now only occasionally sings "A-B-Cin-Dee".  My God-Mother's name is Cindy, and Doug adores her. If you sing "A-B-C-D-E" it does sort of sound like you're singing "Cindy", so I can't blame him there. I once heard a small child sing the middle of the alphabet "EL UH MENTO PEE!". Doug does fairly well with that part too now.

Here's our new and improved surprise box:

Doug gets excited on Mondays when he sees it. I have a large foam letter 'F' from our alphabet mat in there as well as a picture to color with the letter and a fire truck. I also include about 5 things that start with the letter of the week. On the second day of the week, we watch a Sesame Street video on the computer about the letter. I also give him a laminated letter that looks like a  Highway that he can drive his cars on. Usually on Wednesday I give Doug an envelope with 'Letter' mail. It has a felt letter and objects that begin with the week's letter either made out of felt or laminated with a Velcro back. I usually do a worksheet on Wednesday too. I make them myself. I put about 12 letters, all capital letters, on a sheet and he has to circle the ones that are the letter of the week. On Fridays, I cut about 12 letters out, all the same, and stick them to the walls with tape and Doug has to hunt for them. When he's gotten them all, he has to feed them to 'Alpha Bet', the puppet I made. Alpha Bet needs Doug to tell him the name of the letter Doug's feeding him, because Alpha Bet is a picky eater. We also do a foam letter project, in which we create something that starts with the letter of the week using that letter:

I usually try to do one special activity a week with the letter. For the letter 'B' I blew up a bunch of balloons and wrote a large 'B' on them. For 'C' week we made cookies shaped like the letter 'C':

 I think Cookie Monster would approve!

 This was our special activity the first time we did the letter 'F':

I found some clip art of fish and then I enlarged the fish and put a large capital letter 'F' on each one. I then printed them out and laminated them. After that, I took some sticky back magnetic strips and put them on the backs. To make the fishing 'hook', I took a binder clip and put some very small, crazy strong magnets in them so they'd be able to pull up the fish. Because of the very small magnets, we never let Doug play with this unsupervised. Doug absolutely loved this activity! I think I'm going to try to come up with a new activity this time we do 'F'.

We've also started working with numbers. I have a different box that I bring out in the middle of the week to talk about numbers. It has a coloring page with the number on it and a corresponding number of things on the page. It also has a large foam number in the box as well as the amount of corresponding legos. I also give him a number worksheet that I make. It has the number printed at the top and three columns below it. Doug has to pick the column that has the number of objects in it that match the number of the week. I'm thinking of also integrating a video from Sesame Street into this activity too.

Just looking at all the various activities we do is exhausting. No wonder we took a break!