Sunday, November 20, 2011

Math Fun and All

Another week is over and done with. Lots of things happened, mostly me getting sick with some cold or something (still recovering from it). Plus we traveled to NY to spend upcoming holidays with the family. Since homeschooling and work from home allow lots of flexibility, we plan on staying in NY for a couple of weeks.

Since I wasn't feeling well, we didn't do as much school as planned. Still, the little that we did was fun and M kept asking for more, especially more math. In addition to our math and logic worksheets, we explored color gradients, guessed patterns with the help of a talking turkey, and built lots of cool stuff with the magnetic shape tiles. For more details on these and other games, head over to the Moebius Noodles blog.

But mostly it was all about free play, especially closer to the end of the week when I was a) too sick to plan much and b) too busy preparing for our trip. Fortunately, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, sunny and warm.

We went on a very long walk to the park by the Art Museum. I love this park! There's really a lot for kids to do there even though there's not a single playground structure in sight. In addition to lots of walking and a bit of running and rolling down small hills, we played in the sand, played "find a letter and jump on it" game, discussed sculpture, and observed a cute little snake.

And the yard was covered in leaves. So we racked them, put them into a pile next to our compost bin (for future use), then created a different pile on the soft grass. That's where M spent a few hours one afternoon jumping, digging, flipping, rolling and swimming in the leaves.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wake Med Surgery Open House

Last weekend we went to Wake Med hospital for a Surgery Open House. It was awesome. They set up 5 operating rooms, each for a different surgery. There was a neuro surgery OR set up for tumor removal. There was a heart surgery OR set up for a bypass surgery. There was a bone surgery OR set up for knee replacement (gruesome, I tell ya). And finally, there was an ENT OR set up for tonsillectomy.

Of course, everything was hands-on. We were welcome to touch pretty much everything, including some very expensive equipment. M got to play with the knobs on the heart and lungs machine and try pushing the button on the electric saw used to cut through the rib cage.

Wait, didn't I say there were 5 rooms? Yep, the last one was set up for robotic surgery. Which is not a surgery done on robots, but the one done by robots. And there was a real surgical robot in there. And the kids got to try their hand at controlling it!

Oh, and we were given a tour of the OR, including pre-op rooms. During the tour, kids got to make a little craft - they decorated breathing masks for anesthesia with stickers. M decorated his mask with smiley faces and said that these were germs. Back home, I heard him explaining about the mask to his favorite R2-D2 (yeah, he's got more than one): "See here, Artoo, I'm going to take you upstairs for the night and I'll put this mask on you and you'll fall asleep and won't be scared of anything and won't feel anything".

First Two Weeks Are Over

I can't believe it's been two weeks since Chris left. It seems like it's been at least a month. But at the same time, how can it be? After all, we are crazy busy here. But here we are, 2 weeks down, 50 or so to go.

As I mentioned, we've been exceptionally busy. Mostly because we are still in the process of establishing a new schedule and routines. Mornings are pretty much taken care of at this point. I even get to stay in bed until shortly after 7am (compared to 6:30ish when Chris was home). Today was absolutely amazing, record-setting morning - my early riser slept in until 7:30am! Yeah, it's a fluke, but oh what a nice surprise! So, what's my secret for staying in bed for so long? Well, it's all about snacks and snuggles. Every night before going to bed, I bring a small snack upstairs, usually some dried fruits. This way, there's no more "Mommy, I want to eat breakfast" at 6am. Plus I let him snuggle in my bed and build a nest out of all the pillows. And now that I revealed my secrets and bragged about my superior problem-solving skills, I've probably jinxed it. Better prepare for a 5:30am wake-up tomorrow.

(This is a portrait of me as a mermaid, in case you're wondering. Why mermaid? M figured it was easier to draw a fishtail than a dress).

After breakfast and a quick clean-up it's time for homeschool. So far we do math and reading in a pretty formal sit-down and work way. To my great surprise, M likes math a lot more than reading at this point. He's also making some good progress in it. We are still staying in the first 10, but are about to move on. One interesting thing that I noticed is that he does really well with arithmetic as long as there's a story behind each problem. So, we explore all the different ways of building a two-story Jedi academy with 6 training rooms. And we figure out whether the astronauts collected odd or even number of moon rocks. And we learn combinations theory through Sandwich Recipe game. And we do some Jedi mind tricks that include subitizing (estimating quantity without counting) and "follow-the-leader" Lego builds. If you are interested in more details about different math games we play, start reading my new blog, Moebius Noodles.

Reading is a struggle for now. He still loves when I read to him and asks to be read to a lot. But trying to read by himself, even very short words, is a struggle and a chore. Except when the words I write are downright silly or scatological in nature (yep, he's big on toilet humor right now).

Going to the YMCA is a part of our routine now. I wish we could go daily, but even 3 times a week is a struggle for M who still gets very upset about being left in the childcare room. But honestly, I love the childcare at the Y. First, when we come in, the staff-to-children ratio is pretty much 1:1. Second, there's no TV in the room. Third, they actually play with children, read books to them and do crafts. Fourth, they give them healthful snacks at around noon.

A free membership at the YMCA is one of the benefits for families of the deployed soldiers. And it's absolutely awesome! The Alexander Y is our nearest branch and is the nicest in Raleigh (and quite possibly in the world!). Awesome childcare. Cardio classes starting every 30 minutes or so in 2 studios. Indoor track. Racket ball courts (gotta try that out). An indoor pool! So far I've started with cardio classes (belly dancing on Mondays, toning on Wednesdays and Fridays) and some free weights. But I think I'm going to add some swimming to the mix too. And on weekends, M and I go to family yoga, family Zumba and to public swim. Seriously, I'm in love with this Y!

Evening routine is still a work in progress. We have a friend who's about M's age. So the last couple of weeks the two would spend pretty much every evening playing together (not always peacefully). Unfortunately, the boy's family is relocating in a month.

In other news, I think I mentioned that I'm cleaning up, decluttering and re-organizing the entire house. My plan for the first two weeks was to fix the family room. Well, that's done now and looks nice and neat. Putting toys away takes only 5 minutes even after the wildest playdate. But I also cleaned up the entryway closet and the secret junk closet in the upstairs closet. Next up is organizing the paperwork. And that's what I'll be doing tonight.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Send Off


Chris came home for a week before leaving again. So we didn't have much time really for anything. Instead, we tried to pretend we were on a little vacation. Which meant we ate out a lot and took M to all sorts of fun kiddie places, like a place with lots of inflatables and also to a pumpkin patch.

Oh, and we also did some last-minute garden chores. It might seem weird to spend so much time (half a day) clearing the front yard and planting some strawberry plants. But really, we had a blast! It was a perfect stress-relief.

Then it was time to drive to Greensboro for the send-off ceremony. That part pretty much sucked 'cause I hate saying goodbye when I'm the one staying behind. And I really don't like ceremonies.

But there were some good moments, like when we went to an arcade place near the hotel.

Next day M and I dropped Chris off (another goodbye, arghhh) and drove back home. So now we're back and settling into our new routines. Not to say that our new routines are all that different from our old routines. Mornings are different though 'cause usually it's Chris who gets up early with M, helps him get dressed and fixes him breakfast. Now it's my job and, predictably, M wakes up as early as ever (around 5:30am on most days). So I'm trying to teach him to either play quietly in his room or come stay with me, but also quietly. Yeah, I know, it's a steep learning curve.

But overall we've been terribly busy. Thankfully, M is getting way better at playing by himself. Plus he's just so funny now. Which makes things a lot easier. Including preparing for Halloween. We put up some homemade decor and even though the weather was horrible (cold rain), this little Boba Fett went trick-o-treating.