Monday, December 29, 2014

Rainy Day/ SNAP Kit Review

It's raining. AGAIN. I think I'm going stir-crazy from not seeing the sun in so long...I'd really never make it in a place like Oregon where it rains all of the time. I think Eli and Patrick are following suit. It's to the point where I'm hearing myself say things like "Son, please don't drink the BBQ sauce".  We are making a new list of rainy day activities to keep us occupied tomorrow, since our forecast is still looking icky.  We've been doing a ton of Lego building, cartoon watching, art projects, and school work - I think we need to do something at least a little different! I even promised Eli that he could get on Pinterest to look for some ideas of rainy-day crafts! I need to work on cleaning out/organizing our back bedroom (that we used to use as an office), but the rainy weather has all of us moving much slower than usual.  On the bright side though, I'm finally re-conquering "Mount Wash-More"...otherwise known as "the giant stack of dirty laundry that happens every time I get sick"!

In the meantime, Eli's really learning to use his junior SNAP kit, and is loving it.  We have been so impressed with it, that I have really wanted to write about it. We've not been paid by the company and are not affiliated with it in any way....we're just having a lot of fun and are excited to share! The SNAP kit is basically a set of electrical components that literally snap together (like the buttons on blue jeans) and runs on 2 AA batteries.  It has really simple directions (with clearly labeled diagrams) and explanations of how things work. Eli does require help/supervision, of course, but he has gotten to where he can actually build a couple of the projects independently. The kit is recommended for ages 8+, but younger kids who are interested in electricity can still do a lot with it.  Eli's had a really unusual interest in electricity and how it works, so we took the opportunity to try to learn with him. This really has been a great tool...even I've learned a lot! Eli has learned how to complete a simple electrical circuit to wire a tiny light bulb and a simple motor (it runs a tiny plastic fan). Yesterday, we learned how to wire a sound-activated music chip and tiny speaker....and how to use a resistor to change the volume on the speaker.  Today, we learned about series and parallel circuits. In addition to reading the diagrams, Eli is also learning to read/follow coordinates (the grid is labeled like the grids in the game BattleShip). Tomorrow, we will probably do the activities on series and parallel circuits. The projects are sequenced in order of difficulty and in such a way that we learn techniques and vocabulary as we go.  Eli LOVES using it so far, and so do I!

Here's a video of our second time using the kit (yesterday). Eli snapped in everything except the battery pack; he has trouble orienting it, and is still learning how to use the coordinates.

Today, he wanted to repeat some of the projects we did yesterday, and needed very little help - even when it came to reading the diagram!

The great part is that Eli can repeat the activities over and his heart's content. And with more than 100 activities...he should be busy for a while!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas!

We have had a very interesting holiday here (as always), and have enjoyed the time together. We did miss out on a couple of traditions that we normally wouldn't...but I was still tired and weak from fighting flu, so I wasn't on top of my game this year. Still, Eli was very excited about Christmas and LOVED going to light candles at the Christmas Eve service at church. He ended up having 3 days of gifts, thanks to some wonderful family members in North Carolina and Japan. We decided to let Eli open Aunt Lisa and Uncle Ray's gifts on the 23rd, so that we could F@cetime together while he did.  I wouldn't normally post what he received...except that I was definitely not expecting to receive a gorgeous, hand-made, Eli-sized, TMNT-upholstered, rocking chair in the mail.  In the mail, people.  The box nearly didn't fit through the front door!  They sent other gifts, too...which were very  much appreciated by our TMNT and Lego obsessed child...but chair mail was exceptional.  On the 24th, we visited Patrick's side of the family, and on the 25th, my side of the family. Truthfully, Eli was very appreciative and genuinely excited about each gift that was given.  Even the dried anchovy/almond snacks from Uncle Lee.  Which he proceeded to use to completely freak out my father's side of the family. For the record...I've found many of his gifts (except the anchovies) snuggled in his bed with him throughout the last few days...and by the end of it all, he was a very happy, tired, and overwhelmed little boy.

On Christmas morning, he was excited to help light all 5 of our candles on the Advent wreath before opening presents. Hysterically enough, he initially walked past Santa's unwrapped gifts and was mesmerized by the ones Patrick and I had put (wrapped) under the tree. I took pictures...but our tree was embarrassingly (and sadly) very dead by Christmas day. Combined with the fact that the cats took down part of the garland overnight...and knocked our tree-topper sideways...I'd prefer not to share what it looked like!  Normally, our trees last until Christmas with no problem, but we didn't water this one as much as it apparently needed us to.   I'm very thankful that the Advent wreath was not as thirsty as the tree! Now it's time for the anti-climatic undecorating...and I'm definitely pouting about that.

 We are definitely thankful that we have a second week of vacation before the next semester starts. We are getting ready to change a few things up a little bit in 2015....and it's so nice to have some time to relax and plan!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

When the Flu Bites...

In my feverish state yesterday, I managed to pen a short little poem. Thankfully, the fever seems to be gone, and hopefully, the coughing, sniffling, and sneezing will leave soon too. Eli's definitely feeling MUCH better, has had NO fever today and will be ready for school tomorrow. I think I will finally be well enough to go, too...I hope so, anyway. I know a lot of people are anti-Tamiflu, but he had zero side effects, and is getting well so much faster than I am!  Did I mention that all of the pharmacies in our area have had major runs on Tamiflu, and it took hours to find one that had some for Eli?  And even then, we got the next-to-last bottle at that pharmacy. I ended up skipping the Tamiflu because it was so hard to find...and I figured that there were people who might need it more than I. Patrick, with his immune system of steel, remains unaffected by Eli's and my doctor-confirmed Influenza A.

In the meantime, this is how I've amused myself.  I'm positive my 4th grade teacher would be pleased that I remembered the format for a limerick!

A  poem to Flu:

Mucus, mucus everywhere
Sneezing, fever, cough
Oh, Mr. Flu,
Why don't you
Find a cliff and jump off?

We're hoping that Patrick stays well, so that we can be healthy for the holidays. I also made sure to keep Eli out of school long enough to make sure he's no longer contagious...I don't want his friends (or their families!) to be sick either!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Eli's Number Kick

So, I have really wanted to blog a LOT these last few days, but I'm having to hold back quite a bit of family information for the time being. I can say that we are currently working on another adoption!  The rest is not blog-able right now, for privacy reasons. 

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a little more of my sweet guy, Eli. He's learning at an incredibly fast rate (STILL) and we are trying to follow his lead at home. He was on a numbers kick over Thanksgiving break, and asked to do some subtraction. When he has Montessori manipulatives in front of him, he can actually subtract quite large numbers, but he wanted to work these "in his head."

Earlier, I'd heard him mumbling numbers, and asked him what he was saying. He replied, "2, 4, 6, 8....10". I asked him who taught him to count by twos, and he said, "I just figured it out....but it took me a looong time!"

He definitely can count well past 200.  Occasionally, he'll just start counting and keep going. Last time, he stopped at 152, and exclaimed "These numbers just keep going.  They never stop."

The number kick didn't last long. He's kinda bouncing around with his interests a little bit right now, looking for something that suits him, I think. He's been working on a little bit of everything this week.

Still, it continues to surprised people when he speaks. He has conversations with everyone around him who will listen...and it IS funny to hear his tiny voice start a sentence with "Well, actually, I was thinking..." And trust's awesome to have my 3 year old say "I'm gonna call Grandpa and Grandma," then actually dial the number from memory and have a 10-15 minute conversation.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Boy and His...CAT?!?

We've all heard about the deep connection between a boy and his dog...or a girl and her horse...but a boy and his cat?  Some people may chuckle...but Patrick and Eli definitely have this in common. Patrick had  a very special connection with his cat, Spike, who was reasonably sure he was her overgrown kitten. They shared a bed from the time he was 7 until a few days before her death about 3 years ago. That's 23 years, y'all. She was faithful, loyal, loving, kind, and a wonderful friend. Words that people usually do reserve for dogs...but were not strong enough to describe her loving devotion. She was also an amazing alarm clock, and we never worried about sleeping late (or sleeping in!) when Spike was there...she would gently (and persistently) paw Patrick's face to wake him up if he was more than a few minutes late in the morning.  I was a definite "dog" person...and even a "horse" person...but it was witnessing Spike's undying, unconditional love for Patrick that turned me into a "cat" person, too.

It's no secret in this house that Eli absolutely bonded with our cats LONG before he was ready to accept Patrick and I as his parents.  Sadie followed (and still follows) him everywhere he goes in the house. Woody was Eli's first playmate...Eli used to try desperately to get Woody to play with him, and used to go so far as to stack toys on the poor kitty.  Woody now sleeps with Eli most of the time, and looks to Eli as a protector when he's scared (in other words, he hides behind Eli when we have company!).

But the most amazing bond has begun between Eli and Z. Z is a big boy...a large gray tabby cat. He was a scrawny "free kitten" at a horse show nearly 7 years ago. Spike wasn't overly thrilled when we brought him home, but she tolerated him enough to let him stay. He's had his share of health concerns, and although extremely gentle and loving at home, does a fantastic imitation of a feral cat whenever ANY vet comes near him.

Z seems to see his role as to protect and amuse Eli, and is almost always nearby. When Eli is outside, Z can be found right near him at all times...either observing him or trying to play with him.  Every outside picture or video I make of Eli either has Z next to Eli, rubbing on Eli, or yowling to be let out of the house to join Eli!  If you look at his "Pledge of Allegiance" video, you can see Z winding his body around Eli. Whatever Eli's interested in, Z seems to show interest in. They've played games of "chase/catch the stick" that go on for 45 minutes or more. Even bathtime isn't left alone...Z often wanders into the bathroom and jumps into the bath tub with Eli (Z also jumps into the shower with me on most mornings!).  Earlier tonight, Z discovered a new trick...splashing Eli with water while Eli tries to brush his teeth. I ran to the bathroom to hear what Patrick and Eli were hollering about...and apparently, Z was very deliberately (and effectively) slinging water across the bathroom...and of course, being a cat, he stopped when he realized I was recording him!

Getting a paw full of water to sling at unsuspecting boy.

Innocently pretending to groom so no one would suspect it was a water-slinging scam.
I love watching these two enjoying each other's company...and hope and pray that they have a long loving friendship.