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!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year

Happy New Year everyone!

I like the new year. It feels fresh and full of promise.  This year I'll turn 30, in a few weeks, in fact. I'm not sure yet how I feel about that. I've been telling my husband that I've lived most of my adult life in my 20s (think about that, it's TRUE) so being 30, is.... different. Probably not bad different but just different. Jeff will be 33 this year, so he's already done the '30 thing'. My biggest apprehension about getting older has to do with the fact that in my 20s I acquired two (TWO!) chronic illnesses. I know as I age, my risk for more only goes up.

Along with many other people, I've been thinking about New Year's resolutions. All the ones I've come up with pretty much boil down to one thing: do healthier things for myself and my family.

 For example, this is unhealthy and pretty stupid:

That is a picture of my diaper bag. With all the contents there, plus Doug's sippy cup, the bag weighs close to 12 lbs. TWELVE POUNDS. Twelve pounds on my shoulder every time we leave the house. I don't have to tell you that this is bad. It's bad for anyone, but horrendously bad for someone with fibro. I was able to pare it down to 9/10 lbs. I wanted it closer to 8. Next week I'm going to go look at Vera Bradley's 'Mom's day out' bags to see if that would better fit our needs. The diaper bag plus Doug means occasionally I'm carrying 40 lbs. Yes. 

In other fibro related resolutions, I've decided that I'm allowed to say 'no' to things. I'm allowed to say 'no' to things that I feel are going to over tax me. It probably won't happen much, but saying 'no' more means saying 'yes' more to Doug. 'Yes, we can go to the park' 'Yes, I'll get out of bed right away' 'Yes, I'll play with you' 'Yes, I'll make dinner now'. So please don't be offended if I say 'no' to you.

I've also decided that I'm allowed to wear sneakers all the time. I have TONS of gorgeous, lovely heels in my closet that I haven't worn for years (mostly because I'm getting smarter). I've found that if I wear heels, I will spend the next day in agony. The muscles in my calves do not remember how to relax well; they need the support of sneakers. I do have some nice flats I can wear from time to time. I've also found that low wedge heels are acceptable for a while. Don't worry Erin; I won't wear crocs or sneakers to your wedding! I shall be cleaning out my closet soon though.

I also want to change the way we eat. I obviously am going to try to include more fresh fruits and veggies in our meals. I feel that when I cook, we do eat fairly healthy things. However, when I don't cook, we don't eat so healthfully. Unfortunately when I don't feel well, which happens from time to time, making dinner is the last thing I want to do. So we go out or grab some fast food or order in. My goal this year is to reduce the number of times we do that. I plan to go through my recipes and find things that will freeze well. I can make double one night for dinner and freeze the rest. That way when I'm having a flare up, we can just defrost a nice homemade dinner. I did a similar thing when I was pregnant with Doug, and we had some nice dinners to have when Doug was a newborn. I also want to make more soup. Mostly because homemade soup is delicious.

I also plan to do completely crazy, off the wall things this year. Absurd things like eat breakfast AND lunch. Drink more water. I've decided to set my exercise goal to be one aerobic activity a week (chasing Doug through the store with a huge cart won't count, but it sorta counts). Once a week sounds low, but with the fibro, I want to slowly increase exercise. I'd also like to start yoga again. See the insanity?

What are your New Year's resolutions?

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!