Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour Family Fun

I am so proud of my little tornado boy. Yesterday, when I explained to him what Earth Hour was about he wanted to know if other people on our street knew about this. I told him that I didn't know and then asked him what did he think we could do to let them know. He helped me make up a little flyer explaining what it was and then he very proudly went to some of the neighbors on our street and told them about Earth Hour. Tonight at 8:30, all of our lights went off and all computers and for the whole hour we played a board game by candlelight. Near the end, we took a flashlight walk down the street and he thought it was so neat to see our next door neighbors all sitting in their front room with candles and several other people he had spoken too with their lights off. He asked if we could do Earth Hour all the time instead of once a year and we all thought that was a really cool we are thinking about doing our own Earth Hour once or twice a month where we just turn off the electronics/lights for an evening and just enjoy each other by candlelight.

I know that a lot of people honestly feel that global warming is a joke or a myth made up by our government....and maybe some of the hype has gotten extreme...but I believe that we have been really rough on the Earth and that it can only take so much before we see damage that can't be undone. So, here in our little town in Florida, we proudly participated in Earth Hour in hopes of sharing our voice about concern for Mother Earth.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Earth Hour this Saturday

My family will be participating in the Earth Hour Saturday. Basically, Earth Hour is a simple movement, for one hour on Saturday 28th of March, everyone on the planet is asked to make a small sacrifice, turn off unnecessary appliances and lights at 8:30pm local time. I was fascinated to read that something like 85 countries around the world have agreed to participate by attempting to curb electricity usage. From what I have researched, Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and I commend them for starting this. In this day and age, I honestly believe that we have done some serious damage to Mother Earth and all of us need to try to do things on a daily basis to help.
On the Earth Hour website they share,

" This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming.

For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.

We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.

VOTE EARTH by simply switching off your lights for one hour, and join the world for Earth Hour.

Saturday, March 28, 8:30-9:30pm."

I hope that other families will take part in this across the world and stand up for Mother Earth!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Secret Codes Anyone?

Tornado Boy is very intrigued by secret codes and how you can mess around with numbers. Awhile back, he came up with a game that he was Willy Wonka and his playroom was the chocolate factory and he had daddy help draw out a picture of a keyboard with all the numbers on it. When he wanted to go into his playroom, he "entered" the secret code onto his keyboard paper (that was taped to the front of the door) and he was "allowed" to enter. Of course the secret code was only for him and mommys allowed. I can recall many, many games that involved using a secret code of some kind. He likes seeing books or papers that have a special code on it and you have to use a code sheet to decipher it. I think this love of "codes" or unusual ways of labeling things began way back. When he was 4, he noticed that some clocks had "weird numbers" on them and when we explained that those were Roman Numerals he instantly wanted to learn what all the symbols were and what numbers went with each symbol. Same goes for daddy's Scientific calculator. He LOVED exploring calculators. When most kids start to get bored, the parents pull out some kind of toy out of their purse....well our toy was the calculator. We have gone through 2 calculators that I know of just because the numbers were rubbed off from so much exploring and use. On daddy's scientific calculator he noticed all the unusual keys and he was given an impromptu introduction about binary numbers and complex numbers and he was completely fascinated that there was a whole world out there involving things other than the "normal" number system.

Last week, I noticed that Tornado Boy had a pretty quiet day and had started to bounce off the walls a bit by late afternoon. Not enough sensory input for his I got a little creative and took his old Thomas Train table and flipped the top over, used an oversized storage bin and dumped some play sand we had into the bin and viola...instant sand box. I gave him some of his sand toys and a collection of tiny plastic cups and he very happily fed his sensory input need by digging in the sand. Daddy came home and stayed outside with Tornado boy while I started dinner. Things got very quiet.....hmmmmmm....a little leery, I peeked my head out the garage door and was totally mystified by what they were doing.

Secret Codes strike again.....Tornado boy had worked out some kind of secret code language and had daddy write it out in the sand and according to what code was written, it let him know how many small plastic cups of sand to fill for daddy's sand "order". Daddy ran with the whole idea and the two of them came up with a seriously complicated code system. I had NO idea what any of it meant and when I asked, Tornado boy looked at me so matter of factly and explained what each part of the secret code meant. Daddy would write his sand order down in code and Tornado boy had to decipher it and make the sand order. I was honestly blown away with the complexity of their game and he completely understood every aspect of it! In the picture you will see the code before it evolved to a more complex one....the first number - 6 means how many plastic cups to fill with sand, the second one - R means regular (or S for stacked) - regular meant the cups were "delivered" individually, stacked meant that they were "delivered" by stacking the cups on top of each other, the third one - O with a line over it, lets him know to over fill each cup with sand...if the O had a line right at the top that meant to level the sand off at the top of the cup, if it had a line in the middle of the O that meant half a cup of sand (and you could not "order" stacked delivery with the over-filled method - those are the rules)....the last one - G meant Grind (and N for no grind) and basically meant Tornado boy pretended to grind the sand with his hands. Daddy informed me that it grew more and more complex and involved other codes like T for delivery by train, B for delivery by boat amongst other special order descriptions.

They sat and played that game for almost 2 hours and Tornado boy had to be pulled away crying when it came time to come in for dinner. Who knows...future work at the CIA? FBI? Nah....just a very happy, very smart little boy who loves to mess around with symbols and numbers and keep what he is doing a secret!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Unusual pet for an unusual family

Ok.....we took the plunge and bought a new critter for Tornado Boy. I have spent most of my life being surrounded by warm purries and I lost my last cat, Pookie, of 18 years last year. My little guy loved Pookie and it was a very hard loss. It's hard to believe that a warm purry was by my side for 18 years and I miss her dearly. The sad thing is that little boy is allergic to dogs and cats. Due to Pookie's Diabetes, daily shots, and her age we could not bare to place her in another home when we found out he was allergic. So when she passed we have been having animal withdrawal because we can't get most "normal" animals. After much research, we came to the conclusion that "pin cushions" were safe allergy-wise for tornado boy and we took the plunge yesterday. He went and picked out the one he wanted and gleefully took him home. Our new Hedgehog is properly named "Perry the Platypus Hedgie" after the silly platypus on Phineas and Ferb. He is SO cute and NOT so cuddly but he has a great temperament. He lay sleeping in a shirt on Tornado boy in bed last night while he got his stories read and little boy looked up and so earnestly asked, "can he snuggle with me all night long". don't think you would like to roll over onto a pin cushion in the middle of the night and I don't think Perry would appreciate it!
So it is a perfect fit....a very unusual pet for a very unusual family!

Friday, March 20, 2009

We Come Up With the Strangest Games!

I am proud to share that we have quite an unusual household. If anyone could be a fly on a wall they would be left scratching their head asking, "what in the world are they doing?" Tornado Boy comes up with some really creative games and this one has to be at the top! I honestly have no idea how this whole thing started.....but he came up with his own way to teach skip counting all while playing delivery car service with his remote control car. We have these strange little glass "pucks" (as he calls them)...but I think they are used in flower arrangements or decoration in glass containers. He came up with a very confusing game where I take the white pucks...they are considered payment... and he takes the different colored blue ones. We each get an old cell phone (they don't work anymore) and I put in a call to the delivery service (tornado boy and his remote control car) and let him know how many blue pucks I would like for delivery. This is where it gets confusing....He made up his own order chart and had me write it down for him (as you can see in the pic above)....1 blue puck costs 5 white pucks, 2 blue pucks costs 10 white pucks...all the way up to a super wuper shmuper load which costs 500 white pucks. Well obviously we don't have 500 pucks so he came up with the idea that the white pucks can change their values to one puck being worth 5, 10, or for the heaviest load, I would send him 5 pucks which would be equal to 5x100.
So the game goes on with me "calling" in an order on the cell phone to him at the other side of the hallway or room and telling him what size order I want. Then, he loads in the appropriate amount of pucks into a plastic bag and places it on the back of his remote control car and sends it on its way over to me on the other side. I unload my order and I put in my correct payment of white pucks and push the car back to him....and the orders continue until he gets bored and moves onto something new.
I have NO idea where this whole thing came from but he came up with every part of it all by himself....throughout the week, Tornado boy comes up with complicated games like this one almost on a daily least we are never bored!!!

The Sky is the Limit!

Well yesterday was the start of Tornado boy's new love - rock climbing! He watched the safety video and I got him harnessed up and he was off! Dear husband and I have been talking about various sports he could try but it always came back to his Dyspraxia and Sensory Disorder. With both of those, his fine and gross motor coordination really does him in. Tornado boy quickly figured out when he was younger, that he tended to always be the last one at running races or the last one to get picked for teams....and it was a sore spot for him. So team sports like soccer and t-ball just didn't look like the best fit. Rock climbing is SO perfect for him! It will really help build up his fine motor skills with his fingers and hands and talk about a confidence booster! You should have seen the look of just sheer pride on his face while he was climbing! His biggest thing was that he has never really been up in high places and he was unsure about climbing so high. He would get 3/4 of the way up the beginners wall and ask to come back down. Each time he went up, he went higher and higher. After our hour session, he was one pooped out child!! He begged to go back again today and he was so excited. He tired a lot more quickly this time because his little muscles were still a little tired from yesterday's climb....but he was beaming with pride when he left. As we got into the car he looked at me and said, "I am an official rock climber mommy - I am really, really into this!".
He didn't make it to the top even though he really kept trying....but boy oh boy, talk about being proud the day he does make it to the top!!

Monday, March 16, 2009


One of Tornado boy's questions lately has been why are goosebumps called goosebumps? Good question! With his SPD, he tends to rush to the bathroom right in the nick of time because he doesn't always get the signal from his body that he needs to go like other kids. His body will finally get the signal some days when it has just about reached the point of no return....and in doing so, he always wants to know why he gets goosebumps at that moment when he finally goes.

This looks like another job for the internet search engine! So.....for all those that ever wanted to know about's the real skinny!

Goosebumps are called goosebumps because if you ever plucked a goose (poor goose) then you would see little raised bumps where the feathers used to be. These bumps look identical to the raised bumps humans get...hence the name goosebumps....taaaadaaa...

Tornado boy was very interested to learn that at the end of each of your hairs, there is a teeny tiny muscle that can pull the hair erect. Goosebumps can be brought on as a response to fear, anger and in some cases things such as the ole fingers down the chalkboard, or after feeling a very strong sense of emotion. So in my little dudes case...his poor body reacts with goosebumps after some potty times because it is SOOOO relieved to finally be able to go! Back in cave-man days, the goosebump reaction would have helped keep their hairy bodies warmer by raising their hairs to help trap heat.

Mammals and birds can get goosebumps mostly to help keep them warm or to bristle themselves up to make themselves look bigger and keep enemies away. Pretty cool huh???

Got Maps?

Anyone else have a child that MUST collect ALL maps of EVERY kind in the entire universe? Tornado boy has to be the first map-a-holic I have ever met. When it came time to decorate his room he immediately said he wanted maps. So, we found the biggest wall map mural of the World we could find and it pretty much takes up one whole wall from ceiling to floor. He then added in his Unites States map of all railroad lines in the U.S. And did I mention that he has maps all in his playroom and a giant basket that is ever growing to collect his map collection? He actually got angry at me one time when I went to one of the large malls in Orlando and forgot to bring him back a map of the mall. What does he do with his maps you ask? He will literally sit for hours with the maps spread out everywhere and make up his own games where he will ask you to select starting points and destinations and then he will map out the route for you to take. When daddy brought back maps from Singapore, tornado boy was GLUED to those particular maps for weeks! We even found the COOLEST spot in the world allows him to combine two loves-trains/subways and has every subway line map on all the continents that you can download and print. You should have seen his eyes when we realized the goldmine we had found! Needless to say, the printer was working straight for about an hour printing everything from subway maps in South America to Asia.
Well, it seems Tornado boy has taken it a step further (as usual....this is a normal, daily event)...and has figured out how to make his own subway lines using Microsoft Publisher. The only thing that annoys him is that he can't use curved lines, he can only use straight lines right now. He sat down and made his own subway map line called the Shmuzzy Subway and then placed the amount it cost to ride each line. He modeled it after all the subway maps he has seen by making each line a different color and the little oval/circles are stations that you stop at and the black ovals are transfer stations.
I don't think that I know anyone who could possibly afford to ride on his subway system though!

The joy of styrofoam

Who would know that so much could be done with a styrofoam airplane??? Tornado boy got the airplane at the airshow that was here this weekend and decided to do some test flights in the back yard. He went up to the top of his playset to try for longer flights and we all came up with an interesting idea. With his input, the idea grew and we got to experience the joy of an unschooled gifted child. He wanted to figure out how far each flight went and what direction. Using his compass, he carefully noted the direction of each flight and I would pace the distance out on the ground and we wrote down all the data. He then wanted to plot all the info on some kind of chart. He is ADDICTED to any and all charts. Daddy suggested a cool circle graph paper I had never heard off and found a copy on the internet. He just had to show tornado boy one time how to chart the distance and direction on the axis points and he completed the rest of the data himself. He got to see the differences between certain flights and then how other flights overlapped each other in areas.
Here I was, silly mommy, thinking we were going in the backyard just to throw an airplane!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Unschooling Garden

Ahhhhh...the joys of Unschooling! The whole no workbooks, worksheets, planned lessons is just working so incredibly for us. Our project we started last week at Tornado Boy's request was to grow a container garden. We are "garden bug" members at a local Garden center and they send us monthly emails about new things going on at their center. In the last message, they sent pictures of a container vegetable garden and how to make one. Our little guy was so interested that we took some scrap wood from the garage, made our container and then painted it a fun purple color to match some purple chairs we already have outside in our Zen Garden we made last year. He picked out all the veggies and some herbs to plant. He was determined to have the same number of herbs as veggies and was very careful in what he picked. We have all sorts of stuff like peppermint (which is his favorite), rosemary, peppers, tomatoes, squash, celery, sage....among several others.
During the whole process we have used math to map out and measure the container garden so that we could grid off each section properly. We used reading to research the different veggies and which kind worked best in the Florida climate. We used science when researching about the best kind of soil and why it was the best. Of course, art with the painting. I am sure we hit on a ton of other subjects as well. We also made a special hanging container and planted strawberries. He has been enjoying watching all the plants already growing! The squash plants are already huge and soon we will need to place up the growing trellis for some of the others. We love unschooling.....when would he have had the chance to do this in a classroom other than the typical bean plant grown in a cup that all kindergarten kids seem to do each year?!
Thank you mother nature for everything you teach us each day!

One with Nature

We have been gone a few on our very first family camping trip! I love camping and did quite a bit of it before getting married. When I got married, my husband and I went out and bought this huge tent and most of the basic supplies in hopes of getting back to nature......several years later, the camping gear still sat dormant from the day we brought it back from the store.
It is prime time camping time here in Florida, so we began looking for open sites and I stumbled across a site at Tomoka State Park outside of Daytona Beach. Our little tornado boy was SO excited about his first camping trip. Having SPD, camping could be a total wash or a really thrilling experience, so we held our breath in anticipation. I will try to set the scene.....we get there around 5:30pm or so in hopes of setting up our giant tent in the normal time it took us to set it up in the backyard during our trial run...hahahahahahahahaha is all I can say. Of course the silly thing wouldn't go up without a huff! We worked on that thing for quite some time as we watched the sun start I asked dear hubby to get out the lantern and set it up...another HAHAHAHAHA. We hadn't done a trial run of setting up the new lantern that was still in the box. So here is the hilarious scene...a family struggling to set up this tent that is being SO the dark! Finally we have VICTORY..sort of..the tent is up but not 100% correctly. By this time it was too late to cook dinner so we all ran out for the best camping dinner...Wendys.
Oh - did I fail to mention that we also picked the camping weekend during the last weekend of Bike Week in Daytona? We were pretty much the only family in the campground and the super sweet rangers kept checking in on us to make sure we were doing okey dokey. The campsite site and park were SO incredibly beautiful. The huge, magestic trees dripping with spanish moss. Birds everywhere. It was stunning. Little boy was SUPER excited about sleeping in the tent for the first night. It was a wee bit chilly and we were all snuggled under many layers on the blow up mattress and he was one happy camper - literally! He would ask about the noises outside the tent which were predominantly motorcycles but as the night went on, things quieted down and you could hear nature. It was so soothing to hear the animals making all their nighttime noises. Little tornado boy fell asleep with no problems at all. We all woke to the glorious sound of birds chirping and woodpeckers going about their business. You could feel the stress melt away.
We spent the next day exploring the state park and we went on a 2 hour canoe ride that he loved. We tried our hand at fishing and caught a Sheepshead and then finished up the day with some geocaching. We got to cook at the camp stove (there's a fire ban in florida so no fire ring) and we were just having a blast. I broke the camping rules and left some food out near the forest entrance by our tent window so we could maybe catch a glimpse of an animal. As we all snuggled in the tent, we heard little critter foot steps and we got to see the most enormous Possum gobble up our offering. Little boy's comment was, "ooooohhhhhh, he is SO cute". He was tickled pink to have seen the possum. Another nice sleep and a pack up in the morning. We went off to explore the Children's Museum in Daytona - which was a huge hit! In the pic above he is holding a creation he made with nuts and bolts. Followed up with a surprise visit to the Daytona Raceway. This thing is just HUGE! They let you in for free to check out the grandstands and tornado boy asked if he could come see one of the races in July.
It was an amazing family vacation that made us really appreciate being able to get out to nature again. Sometimes in our insane lives, we just seem to forget that there is this beautiful, big, world out there just waiting to be explored. Getting back to being one with nature was exactly what this family needed and we are already looking for our next camping weekend.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Some Favorite Tornado Boy comments

After the whopper of an afternoon today, I am having a really difficult time sleeping and decided to have a good laugh and pull out some silly things I have been writing and putting away for a number of years so I could pull them out on a rainy are some of my more favorite comments/moments from my little tornado.

*yelling very proudly from the bathroom after pooping that his "intestines were now empty".

*Another potty moment....sitting on the toilet with daddy in the bathroom and he so matter of factly looked up and said, "Houston, we have a dangly".

*"Hey Mommy, I have a question, when I grow, do my ears get bigger?"

*"I am 62% done with eating my lunch".

*While laying in bed during night snuggle time, "Mommy, I have been wondering, why is the ceiling flat in our rooms but the roof outside is shaped like a triangle."

*After running into the doorframe while riding his scooter, he looked up at me and said, "I guess my ecolocation device is broken".

*"How tall can they build a building before it begins to fall over."

*He loves elevators so he asked to make his own pretend elevator on the side of the sliding kitchen door which somehow morphed into a racecar as he helped make and design the speed limit guage, the gear shifter, steering wheel and elevator floor button pad (see pic above). One day he asked if he could put an "up and out button" on his elevator pad so he could be willy wonka which then morphed into making negative and positive numbered floors after a Cyberchase on PBS that he watched.

*"Mommy, I really have a problem. I really want to be friends with the girls but they don't like to be nice to the boys. I really, really think they are pretty but I don't know if they will be my friend."

(had to add one after posting)...while having a sheer sensory overload kind of afternoon with running crazy through the house, he banged a chair back and forth banging it into the wall while we were listening to some of his favorite songs. Daddy asked him not to do that and his reply was that the "chair was dancing". Daddy replied with, "chairs do not dance into walls". Tornado boy's response was that the "chair didn't have any eyes to see the wall with" causing it to dance into the wall.....this kid could talk his way out of anything!!!

and to end on one of my favorites:

*While he was running around with the yard stick and hitting some things around the house (he wanted to hear the different tones things made depending on its size, shape and material according to him)- I told him not to bang the walls and he got very upset and looked me square in the eyes and said, "I have been thinking about this game all the way from 2001 and until December 2007 and now I can't do it!"

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Blue Hair Victory!

We had a MAJOR breakthrough today concerning little tornado boy's Sensory Processing Disorder and haircuts! We tried getting his hair cut at a salon when he was a weenie little one and it was a nightmare. The memories are all still there in my head....screaming, crying...complete fight or flight mode while daddy tried to hold him on his lap in the hair chair and all of us in tears at the end. After 2-3 attempts like this, we said enough because we didn't want to traumatize him anymore. So....I became his hair dresser...yes, hahahahahaha is all I can say! Haircuts happened in the bathtub with me doing a total song and dance to keep him occupied while I did a snip here and a snip there. By the time I was done, I was exhausted but his hair was cut (for the most part). His hair was always pretty straight but FAR from looking professional.

For the past several months I kept pointing out that there was a new place called Snip-its down the road where he could play games while they cut his hair because lately the little hairs around his ears have been really bugging him. He was interested but not enough to convince him to try it. His love of the past month is his new DS system and he asked me the other day that if he tried getting his hair cut at the "new place" could he earn a new DS game. I agreed a million percent and today we ventured in to get his hair cut. There were a few slight stressful moments when she pulled out the electric razor tool to get around his ears and I just held his hands. The lady asked how he wanted it cut and he said he wanted to look like daddy. Daddy has short on the sides and then spikey in the front (and he frosts his spikes- but we are not ready for that yet!) Then he found out that he could put color on his hair and that was all he needed to hear to finish out the cut. He was thrilled with the gel that was put in to make his hair "pointy" and then the blue streaks were the icing on the cake. As we walked out the door he yelled, "I want to do that again and next time I am getting orange streaks". He was SO proud walking around showing off his hair for the rest of the afternoon.
Another SPD battle finally fought and WON!

Unschooling adventures

Since the holidays, my husband and I have made the decision that "typical" homeschooling was just not the answer for our 2e child. After lots of research and soul searching we realized that we have been unschooling him pretty much since birth...we just didn't know there was a name for it.

Unschoolers believe, "that the use of standard curricula and conventional grading methods, as well as other features of traditional schooling, are counterproductive to the goal of maximizing the education of each child. Instead, unschoolers typically allow children to learn through their natural life experiences, including game play, household responsibilities, and social interaction.....Unschoolers often claim that learning any specific subject is less important than learning how to learn..."

We have been facilitating his interests and explorations since birth and unschooling is the perfect match for his gifted/2e we are officially an unschooling family. He has explored and learned about topics that most kids don't touch on until the upper grades or later - binary numbers, dwarf planet criteria, weather systems. In our explorations we are hitting all the major subject areas of reading, math, history, science and even go into art and music among other areas. He just isn't sitting and doing a workbook and sit down lesson that usually separates all of these subjects out into boring capsules. He is learning real time situations where you can use specific math facts in order to help solve a problem instead of looking at useless math problems stuck in a workbook.

He really loves to play boardgames....but not the typical boardgames that 6 year olds like...his favorite is Monopoly and I think we have 3 different versions of it and he is RUTHLESS when he plays. So the other day, out of the blue he told me that he wanted to make his own monopoly game. He asked me to help with the writing and coloring and that he would come up with everything else. I believe we are the only people on the planet who have a Monopoly game that has a space for a Tickle Factory
and an Invisible Factory! For almost 2 hours, we worked together as he designed his own gameboard (complete with his own street names) and then came up with the costs for each property and their rents and then we proceeded to play his Monopoly game. He was SO incredibly proud of his accomplishment. So he followed his interest and in doing so he learned math, reading, writing, and art....and of course he beat me by a mile!

"You cannot teach a person anything; you can only help him find it within himself." -Galileo