Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Staggering Awesomeness

If you've noticed a little something fishy around these parts, it's that I split this blog in two -- YAZAM! -- just like that. From here on out, I'll be blogging about Cushing's disease over here. Click on over to continue following my health saga (jug pissin' & golf ball sinusitus and other such TMI). If, on the other hand, you're only here for chiddler and rancheroo news, well then, you're in exactly the right place.

Important bloggidy overhaul now sorted; it's update time, baby! Things, here in Rancheroo space/time, are great on average... but with a very high standard deviation. We're enjoying all kinds of wintery goodness (and, no, I'm not *only* referring to the continuous influx of David's pipin' hot pies). Winter in the Rogue Valley is just awesome. Think spectacular lush evergreen forest and lovely mild weather. It's freakin' rocks!

Okay, so here we are... at that predictable part of the update where I inevitably go on & on about how staggeringly awesome our garden is... but, nopers, not this time. It's our first year sans winter garden. I know! It's so weird to be buying greens from the store! We're also chickenless (chicken-free?), so, as you might imagine, Rancheroo life has been unusually mellow (and by that, I mean, compared to what it'd be like if I'd just had brain surgery and we were still raising our own food). It's nice! We're hoping to get back into the groove on both fronts come spring (contingent, of course, on my health status), but for now we're loving the break.

Speaking of impending springitude, Micah -- still cute as can be -- is currently obsessed with it. Wish I could tell you that he's excitedly gearing up for spring planting, but nope, not so much. In his toddler mind, spring is equated with one and only one splendor: the re-opening of our local train park. It's winter closure is clearly some terrible & heartless joke devised to ruin his life, but for now, he begrudgingly satisfies his train fetish with youtube videos. OMG does he adore these videos.

Internet surfing and online gaming in general continue to rule his heart. On the gaming front, he was, until recently, limited to nickjr and starfall (both designed for kids who can't necessarily properly operate a mouse), but he's now a proficient mouser (mousanator?). Yep, he learned to "drag" with the trackpad... using two hands, with his tongue sticking out and brow furrowed in concentration. It's dang cute. He's also getting the keyboard thing down, thanks to one of his favorite games: Magic School Bus Voyage to the Volcano. Not exactly the sort of thing you'd expect to inspire a kid to learn to type, I know, but to log in, you have to type your name. He's been playing it since Christmas and had been logging in as "MMMM" or "MMIIIIC" (he refuses to accept help), but can now type his full name. Well pretty darn close, anyways: "MICCAH" was his latest attempt. Proud and super excited, he called me in to see, but then, frustrated by the imperfect outcome, he explained: "It keeps making me type two Cs!"

He still loves letters and numbers, reading and counting, nerding and geeking. He recognizes numbers up into the twenties now (maybe higher?) and is, as of last week, especially fond of picking out the number 20. He spotted it on a speed sign today while we were driving through town. I was impressed (!)... and I slowed down.

He's also crazy into jigsaw puzzles and loves solving complicated ones (60 pieces). He is remarkably patient and applies a brute force strategy to solving them -- he just picks up pieces and tries them until they fit. And he can actually do it! No joke! 60 piece jigsaws!

Okay, enough about the young prince, and on to big brother, Eli, who, despite the occasional ridiculous argument, Micah is completely gaga over. Eli likes Micah a whole lot too but, let's be honest, nothing compares to The Solar System. Especially, Jupiter. And its awesome volcanically active moon, Io. Oh, and let us not forget that giant ball of fire in the sky, The Sun. Also exciting are all kinds of astronomical delights beyond our mere solar system: the expanding universe, black holes, the big bang. Seriously! This stuff gets him fired up like nothing else. He's memorized all the names and locations of planets, moons, etc (!) and can identify them in maps (by relative position) and pictures (by color, size and other features). Mostly, though, he's into the superlatives: the hottest, the biggest, the farthest away, the oldest, etc. He's particularly delighted when he asks a question that we can't answer, or better yet, that nobody can. His current life ambitions are to invent something that travels faster than the speed of light and some way to live on the sun.

He's also still way into books of all sorts and continues to learn to read by some combination of memory and magic. He enjoys messing around with phonics, but I think not in the typical learning to read sort of way. Instead, he memorizes how to spell/read a word after seeing it once. I wonder if it's possible to completely learn to read this way: memorizing all the commonly words in the English language? He seems to be heading in that direction. But for now it's all about practicality. He reads well enough for his own purposes, basically to navigate effortlessly online, read signs out and about, etc. He has little interest reading books to himself, but when I'm reading to him, he likes to read chapter titles and a sentence here or there. David and I half expect him to up and start reading to himself any day, but we've been thinking that for a year now, so who knows :) He has an endless attention span for being read to and especially loves illustrated non-fiction up to and including encyclopedia entries (he actually had us read the volcano entry as his bedtime story for several weeks straight). Fiction-wise, he tends to prefer the silly end of the spectrum: Roald Dahl, Captain Underpants, and so on. He's especially fond of the sudden, grisly fates that always seem to fall upon unpleasant characters in Roald Dahl books: "hahahaha, the crocodile got sizzled up like a sausage!" Nice.

Both kids have a curiosity that knows no bounds and I've resigned myself to the feeling like I can't possibly keep up with their ever changing interests, obsessions and general desire to know everything. I feel constantly as though I'm not doing enough to feed their minds -- the nerdy discussions are near continuous yet their questions just keep coming. In the last week, we've tackled/studied/learned everything there is to know about: the human body (Micah is particularly fond of the cardiovascular system, Eli of the brain), Triassic era mammal-like reptiles (have you met the delightfully hideous Lystrosaurus?), dinosaurs (Allosaurus being the big hit of the week thanks to this amazing video), fractions, negative numbers, the magnificent Sequoia Sempervirens (Eli thinks it's so cool that other tree species can actually take root and grow right in their canopy... and that their trunks are sometimes big enough to drive through), magnetism (he learned that the earth is a giant magnet and has been passionate about it since), and, of course, astronomy, astronomy and more astronomy.

Educational videos, in particular, have become a huge part of their pursuit to know everything and, every day, I thank the intergods for our netflix account. They're especially fond of national geographic style nature shows, which I have to admit, I have a huge soft spot for. On the menu last week was planet earth and this series. Both astoundingly cool. They just leave me with this feeling of holy crap this is some amazing world -- wondrous and fragile and brutal and staggering in it's awesomeness... ya know?

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