Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rockets to the Heavens

Little Tornado Boy LOVES building and setting off rockets. I am quickly figuring out that he is turning into a little adrenaline junkie. He and his daddy starting setting off store bought rockets at the local baseball stadium parking lot over a year ago and it has now moved up to them purchasing kits and building their own rockets. They decided to start with a Skill Level 1 rocket that was a big success but you know guys...the bigger the fire power...the better. I can hear Tim the Tool Man making his grunting noise and screaming "more power!!!!!"....So they went up and built the Storm Caster a Skill Level 2 rocket. It took them about a month of working evenings to build it and paint it. I loved watching the two of them work together....I think daddy enjoyed building it as much as Tornado Boy.

Launch Day came for the Storm Caster at the local baseball park and they used C engines for the initial launch....3,2,1 blastoff....and WOW - WAY up in the sky....the wind was a little bit up and picked up the larger parachute and sent the rocket about 1/2 mile off towards the local elementary school. We watched while screaming "keep going" as it hit the top of the elementary school's roof and fell onto their property. We raced to the car and drove around to the school and sheepishly, Daddy climbed over the elementary school fence and went hunting for the rocket. Success! A quick clambering over the fence in fear of police getting us for breaking and entering...we decided that maybe the Storm Caster was a wee bit too big of a rocket for the baseball stadium parking lot. So, we were on a mission to find a safe location. We had graduated to the world of rocketry.

After researching we found a local rocketry club that meets one time a month in a very desolate area of the county and Tornado Boy was thrilled beyond words! We of course headed over one Saturday with Storm Caster in tow and talk about the mother loads of rocket clubs!!! These guys were setting off giant scale rockets that screamed to the heavens! Tornado boy and daddy were SO into it that we all hung out in 95 degree weather for 3 hours watching and launching Storm Caster. He got to launch his rocket 4 times, with one time sending daddy on a long 25 minute trek to try to recover the rocket after one mighty launch!

Here they are setting up Storm Caster at the launch site

Ready for Lift Off!!!

Storm Caster soaring to the heavens! The other rocket club members were VERY impressed with the rocket they built. You can see Tornado Boy recoiling from the HUGE sound this rocket makes at lift off.

Some of the other rockets the members had were just amazing. They were HUGE - like the size of Tornado Boy and used absurdly large engines. They have special clearance at the rocket launch site with the FAA due to how high some of the rockets go local airplane traffic are aware of the launch site.

Here are some pics of the other rockets....

The last one we watched before we sweat ourselves into a pool of water, we saw the most awesome launch. A gentleman was getting a special certification in order to launch a specific category of rocket. When you really get into the high end rockets, you have to earn certification in various levels of have to build the rocket yourself, then take a written AND oral exam showing that you understand rocketry and then you have to do a launch of your rocket with an examiner present to certify the launch. This rocket SCREAMED to the had a ridiculous size engine and they had to call it into the local airport to notify the altitude of the rocket. I mean this puppy disappeared thousands of feet into the sky, it was UNREAL. Tornado Boy's eyes were the shape of saucers after he saw that one go off and said in a breathless voice...."that was just way cool....can we start building a new rocket".

Here's a pic of that last monster rocket.

The next day, my two "men" headed down to the local hobby shop and purchased the next level 2 rocket kit...this puppy is called The Express and it is supposed to travel 1,700 feet....God help us!!!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tornado Tidbits - a look into our daily messy life

Ok, I just had to pull out the camera after walking through the house today. All I could think was "wow, what a MESS!". I try really hard to do a thorough clean once a week but on days like today, all I can do is shake my head and then join back in the fun that caused all the chaotic mess!

Here is the lovely ketchup splatter. Tornado boy is a ketchup fanatic and even loves to eat it with his stick cheese. Unfortunately, I tend to find ketchup in really strange places!!! Here is a pic of a nice splatter on the floor and the next pic, I have NO CLUE on the world a ketchup slotch got on the living room wall...I guess I shouldn't ask huh?

This one is just nuts....our recycling does not pic up the cardboard from all the various food boxes/toy boxes and I refuse to throw it in the, our laundry room sink is our "catch" for all things cardboard and when daddy is able, he takes a car load to the recycle center way down by his you can tell, we haven't had a load in quite awhile!!!!

Here is one day of play in Tornado boy's playroom...he took my old cuisinare rods and designed his own metro subway system complete with connection points and then add in some magnetics and his playmobile and we have a small village with the metro system.

Don't know if this one will come through but we have dribbled stains of the "cabbage water" we made this morning (for our science experiments that were done) all over the tile floor from the kitchen all the way through the front room to the laundry room. Nice little blobs of purple all over the place. All I can say is that red cabbage really SMELLS!!

Here is the kitchen counter from the afternoon...we did several science experiments today with learning about bases, neutrals and acids - we had stuff everywhere but tornado boy had a blast with doing all of them!

I am just pooped from the "busyness" of the house today and will just have to wait til tomorrow to clean everything up...or maybe in a few days :-)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Train Fanatic times infinity

Ok, Tornado Boy is the epitome of a train fanatic. He pretty much eats, breathes, sleeps trains. We are WAY past the Thomas train stage....he now is into the electric HO and O scale trains and of course riding the real things. We hit one of his major to do items while we were in Washington, DC - we rode the only high-speed train in the US - the Acela...his next item is to fly to Chicago and ride the Empire Builder all the way to Seattle. He has actually learned a History lesson concerning the Empire Builder and the man who "built" the route - James J. Hill...pretty cool stuff....anyways...back to trains.

We were very much buried under trains here at home....he is the proud owner of an O and HO scale train along with miles of Geo-Track set ups, a new Lego train set up and a Playmobile train set up. These things pretty much take up the entire floor...or should I say house!!! So, tornado boy came up with the idea of selling off all of his old Thomas Train collection (he had a HUGE amount of items) and old toys he doesn't use in order to raise money to redo his playroom and build an elevated track system for his HO scale train. Quite a mature plan for a 6 year old! Who would have thought that Thomas train items would sell like hot cakes and lo and behold, we raised more than enough money to paint, put furniture and build the track layout. Tornado Boy had everything "mapped out" in what order things needed to be accomplished.....

Step 1: Paint.....he picked the colors after switching between blue and orange and then back to blue again (THANK YOU- just couldn't imagine day-glo orange painted on all 4 walls) and painting one wall with magnetic paint so he can hang up his works of art on the wall with no more pin marks. His beloved Polar Express poster and CSX transportation map finally have a spot.

His other beloved map - railroads of the continental united states is TOO huge for the room and will stay in his bedroom.
Step 2: get furniture including his own large desk for current work and art projects
Step 3: build track supports and track along the top of the ceiling to elevate his HO scale trains. This was interesting since my husband and I are the most "UN-builder-like" people in the world....but we pulled it off with everything actually being level!!

We are only missing new wood floors (hopefully will go in within the next year or so- VERY yucky old carpet is just blech!). I also want to paint some mural items along the track line over time - mountains, buildings, there is scenary along the track line. Tornado Boy has it in his head for future train plans for his O scale cut a hole in the wall to run the track from his playroom through into his bathroom and then cut another hole in the wall through to his bedroom and run the train through and then around the top of his bedroom walls. This is do-able but the thought of punching holes in the walls is a wee bit intimidating to us...but it would mean NO more tripping on trains on the floor!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

First Airplane Flight - to DC

I haven't had a chance to post in what seems like forever! We all got a really nasty cold and then our family vacation came up and finally things have slowed down a little bit so I can get back to blogging!!! Tornado Boy LOVED Washington, DC! It was his first airplane flight and this was such a GIANT step for him! With all of his Sensory issues, we were so proud of how he handled the whole flight and he really enjoyed it! Of course Manny the Manatee had to ride with us on the plane!

Eating could be interesting sometime but he was a real trooper and we found several places where he was able to eat and even try some new things. He even got to eat at an icon in DC - a place called Ben's Chili Bowl.

We hit just about everything you could possibly hit in a week and had so much fun! I will say, anyone heading to DC, bring comfortable shoes! Tornado Boy had so many awesome experiences that there were too many to list. I will tell you one thing...he has to be the only 6 year old that had the Washington, DC Metro map memorized in less than 2 days. Strangers would mumble to themselves on the metro about how they didn't know how to get to so-and-so and Tornado boy would pipe up and give exact, detailed directions while they listened on with jaws dropped.

I will have to say the top highlight of the trip for him is the surprise we gave him. He is a train fanatic and is in love with the Acela High Speed train...he even has an HO version of the train at home. We went to Union Station and surprised him with a trip to Baltimore and back on the Acela. He was in HEAVEN. The price was absoltuely ridiculous for 30 minutes one way and 30 back and he was the ONLY child on both trips but he loved every second of it. He brought the GPS onboard and clocked the train going 127 mph. I laugh again, how many kids want to bring a GPS onboard any vehicle in order to clock the speed? So he can officially say that he rode the only high speed train in the United States. His next trip he wants to take is the Empire Builder route from Chicago to Seattle.

He really enjoyed the Postal Musuem and got a kick out of seeing statues of Ownie the dog...he is the official mascot of the postal service way back when and would hope board trains and planes and travel the world with the US mail. Tornado Boy learned about Ownie through one of his All About Trains videos he used to watch so he was excited to see Ownie.

We also took a ride down the C&O Canal in an old boat much like they did in the
1870's. It was super cool seeing how the locks worked on the canal and being pulled my mules was kind of neat!

Of course we had to go see the Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History.

Both were super crowded and I was so proud of Tornado boy enduring the noise level. About half way through the Museum of Natural History, he asked for his special headphones to help block out the sounds echoing off the walls of the museum. He really enjoyed seeing all of the animals at the Natural History museum.

We visited all of the monuments and he filled up his entire National Park's Passport book for the DC area.

We REALLY enjoyed visiting Rock Creek Park where he worked for several hours and earned another Junior Ranger pin and badge. He completed the whole Junior Ranger workbook and collected a bag of trash and was SO proud when the ranger pledged him in. This is his third Junior Ranger Patch that he has earned and he worked SO hard.

The park was beautiful and it was hard to believe that something so serene and calm was in the midst of a bustling place like DC!

Of course we can't forget our visit to the National Zoo! We picked a great day to go was rainy and hardly anyone was there...we came prepared with our umbrellas and it was great.

The Pandas were so special!!!

We were super sad to leave but it is always nice to come home! We said that he is ready now for a trip to see Mimi and Papa WAY over in New Zealand....our next family adventure :-)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy Cheese Dance

All I can say is YIPPEEEE, we have ONE new item added to Tornado Boy's PICKY list of acceptable foods! There is hope...and the clouds parted and there was light! doing the happy dance...yeah booyah, yeah booyah!

We are planning a trip to Washington, DC in a couple of weeks and we are all excited but, Tornado Boy's SPD dietary "wants" make traveling very interesting....he is pretty limited to what he eats and 99% of his choices are not normally found in most is either too yucky, too smooshy, too salty, too sour, too hot, too spicy....on and on...the joy of SPD! So we talked about making a deal...he said he would be willing to try one new food a week so that maybe we could try some new restaurants while we were in DC. So this week's new food was...tada.....grilled cheese (with the crusts off of course)....and YES it was a HIT. We had tried it a year ago and it was spit out with lots of "yucks" and gags followed after...and this from a child who would consume an entire bag of cheese sticks each day if he was allowed. Well, for some strange reason today(I will not look a gift horse in the mouth)it was "great" and "yummy" and was devoured in under 20 seconds AND more was asked for. YIPPEEE - Grilled Cheese is probably one of the most popular items on kid's menus so DC here we week - Macaroni and Cheese - keep your fingers crossed!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tornados DO grow up

How sad......I am one of those moms that wants to enjoy their child for as long as possible and don't want them to grow up.....but, it seems Tornadoes do grow up :-( How do I know this? This week, I was called into the bathroom by a very frightened, very concerned yell from Tornado Boy. I went into the bathroom and found my little guy completely upset with this look of fear and awe on his face. Daddy was in there with him and he asked me to "check it out" because he wasn't entirely sure. I was very confused at first until Tornado boy opened up his mouth and pointed to his bottom tooth. He looked up at me with this face of confusion and said, "I think its wiggling". We have read stories in the past about the Tooth Fairy visit and had explained the whole process of his baby and adult teeth so it wouldn't be a total shock when the time finally came.

Well....looks like the time has tornado is growing up and I can't stop time like I had SO hoped for.

So, he is no longer totally wigged out - according to him he is 50% scared and 50% excited and every day now, he has a system....he calls it his wiggle time - where he takes his finger and wiggles his loose tooth....a wiggle in the morning, a wiggle after lunch and a wiggle before bed. Anyone have a secret on how to stop little boys from growing up? The tooth fairy will be visiting our house soon unless there are any secret methods anyone wants to pass on :-)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Never Under Estimate Tornados!

My husband and I had one of those "duh" moments last week when we purchased something for tornado boy. We both had no idea why we didn't think of it sooner...especially since it is pretty much what my husband does all day. It makes me ponder just how many other things I just think, "nah, that's too advanced" or "that looks too difficult" would catch his fancy.

I introduced a Circuit Kit to him in a local store and his interest was peeked immediately. So the introduction to building circuits began. This kit was right up his alley - it came with a step by step book with 101 circuits to build. To my complete astonishment, he was so fascinated and taken by them that he literally went through all 101 experiments in under 2 days. He spent the entire day with hardly any breaks going from one experiment to another.

It was so cool seeing a new passion spring out and see his face light up when he began to just mess with the circuits to try to make his own ideas. My husband was able to explain to him how each circuit experiment worked and he was honestly understanding it because the next day when Daddy was at work and I asked him to explain his current circuit he was working on, he blurted it out so matter of factly like he had known about circuits all his life.

Well, after 2 days, the exploration began with him building his own ideas but he noticed on the back of one of the flyers that there were BIGGER kits (which he so slyly pointed out to me). Daddy went online and found the grand daddy of circuit kits complete with a computer program so you could build some on the computer and ordered it for him. For the next several days all we kept hearing...."is it here yet?", "how many more days", "I'm SO excited"....until the box arrived. Man was this thing HUGE! Tornado Boy's eyes about popped out of his head when he saw all the cool stuff that came with it! So off he went working on the 300+ experiments that came with this box. NEVER, EVER under estimate a tornado!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

10 Favorite Things About Living in Florida

We have done so many eco-adventures over the past few days that I just had to do a 10 favorite things about living in Florida!

1. We went to Cape Canaveral National Seashore to hang out at the beach and got to see the two shuttles both poised on their launchpads.

2. Here is a beautiful Zebra butterfly we saw while out exploring

3. We went on a Manatee finding mission yesterday and came across this cool canal filled with tons and tons of.....turtles!

4. One of the pretty views on our two mile hike through Turkey Creek Sanctuary

5. This fat little guy has had one too many peanuts fed to him!!

6. A view of our backyard - we had so many doves camped out.

7. Tornado Boy's butterfly garden he planted last year - it's now in full bloom.

8. We took an eco-boat trip this weekend and explored the Indian and Banana rivers - we saw several dolphins and one manatee hump :-)

9. A view of the sunset from our front window looking across the street. I swear the sky turned 10 different colors in a matter of a view minutes.

10. The angry Florida Sky right before a hail storm

I know there are many times where I moan and complain about living in Florida because for 99% of the year it is usually hot and humid and I miss having real seasons....but these 10 pics quiet the whining!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The newfound joy of Orienteering

A compass and a map are like Tornado Boy's favorite begins the sport of Orienteering into our lives. I know that we enjoy geocaching - but it isn't "exciting" enough for our little guy so a friend told me about Orienteering. Let's just say Tornado Boy fell in love with it hook, line and sinker! We found a group that is about an hour away and they host a monthly Orienteering outing at different locations around the central part of the state. They offer all kinds of levels and certificates for the kids for completing a course. So last weekend, we decided to jump in head first and see what all the fuss was about. This group had a permanent course set up in a beautiful county park and we decided to tackle it before trying a group meet.

For those who don't know what Orienteering is about - basically you get a topographical map, a compass and you have to find your way from one "control" or marker to another until you find all of them and complete the course. So you are wandering deep into woods and forested areas trying to find the best route from marker to marker by reading the topo map. You learn what all the sections of the topographical map mean - higher areas/wooded areas/scrub areas/water.....and people compete all across the country to see who can complete courses the fastest. So the main get lost in the woods and find your way from checkpoint to checkpoint to learn how not to get lost in the woods.

My little guy was totally engrossed in this whole event and we had an absolute blast wandering through beautiful wooded areas. He was really, really good at finding his way on the map and locating the markers. We finished the course in 58 minutes and will be going back next weekend to complete the advanced course and then in May they have a large meet at another park that we hope to join.

While we were out wandering we came across the most unreal animals! We heard tons of birds, saw a rare fox squirrel, watched a "shnafalo" (armadillo) sniffle his way around, and then the best part of all - Tornado Boy was at a marker and looked up and thought he saw a bird but then figured out it wasn't a bird. It was this magnificent, giant owl way up in a tree. He was so pretty and just watched us as we putzed through the woods. When we showed the ranger a picture he said it was an immature barred owl and he was just as excited as we were and wanted to know where we spotted him so he could go look at him. I can't believe he was considered "immature" and that he was going to grow larger!

So for those families who love getting lost in the woods - you should see if you have any local Orienteering groups around your area - at least with my little tornado around I know I will never get lost in the woods!