Archive for September, 2012


Sebastian thinking about napping.

I seem to acquire cats that live FOREVER. Aravis was almost 20 when she passed and Sebastian is pushing 21. Sith is merely 13. I have had the oldest cats more than half my life. I was a KID when Aravis was born (4th grade) and I was 16 when Sebastian came into my life. That’s just CRAZY!

Geriatric cats are a lot like demented old people. They forget what a litter box is and just sort go where ever they happen to be. So now I have a litter box in the living room. Nice, yes? But it takes the old man such a long time to go UP the stairs that he just says ‘eff it’ and goes where ever is most convenient.

He (Sebastian) also sort of does odd things.

He can’t jump or land on his feet anymore so he just sort of falls places. He works really hard to get up high (his climbing skills are impaired, too) so he can fall over something he should have been able to just jump, like a baby gate. I stop him and stop him and stop him, but he is very single minded. He makes the effort until he wins because he needs to eat any crumbs off the floor left by my kids (He is not allowed to do this and he isn’t a dog. This is a new development.) He acts like he’s a starved creature. I assure you he is not. Still, he will steal your food right off your plate. This is also relatively new. My cats have always been very picky and they will sniff something to death and maybe lick it, but never eat it. Watching him snarf a bit of pizza crust is very odd as it isn’t meat (so he just about attacks me when I have tuna salad or something), but there you are. He tries to drink my coffee and he walks around on the tables in the living room, knocking things off and generally rearranging the photo frames and various other knickknacky sundries.

Also, he smells. He doesn’t clean himself anymore and so I have to wash this domestic short haired cat and/or shave him. He is extremely docile about the whole process. I don’t even have to hold his scruff, he just submits.

He is mostly deaf and this cat who talked and talked and talked is mostly silent. He’ll meow every now and then but it’s like a person hard of hearing who refuses hearing aids: he yells. He will get very loud indeed, especially if he thinks you need to feed him. One good thing about it, though, he isn’t scared of the vacuum cleaner anymore.

He’s still just as loving as ever, although like extremely old people, he has no meat on his bones. In fact, he is mostly bones and saggy skin. He seems to weigh almost nothing these days.

He is still my favorite. (Sorry, Sith)

It’s the little things.

Chi was totally unable to self regulate and had regular meltdowns and constant stimming when he was at public school, but since we started homeschooling, not only has the stimming diminished, but the melt downs are almost COMPLETELY nonexistent.

And he has started self regulating.

I took him to Target (which has always been a top way to bring on the meltdowns (the lights are so bright AND LOUD, there are some many people and things AND THEY ARE LOUD, AHHHHHHH!) and events transpired in such a way that the kids were unable to get the items we had gone to the store to get (read: earned prizes for excellent, consistent behavior). Instead of melting down, as he would normally do, over unexpected happenings, I watched him walk very stiffly with a look of intense concentration on his face. When I asked what was going on, he said, “I can feel my body want to stop and my mouth want to squeak, but I’m making it not do that.” I was amazed.

When he meltsdown? My Chi isn’t there anymore. The Monster has taken his place and the Monster does not communicate or hear me or anything. Chi was beating that Monster. Now, MAYBE this is because he’s getting older (almost 11) but I really think the difference is that at homeschool, he isn’t staying overstimulated a majority of his time awake. As such, he is better able to read what his body is doing and learn to stop or cope with what ever reaction he is having.

See? I CAN enjoy the unexpected, and this is one of my favorites.

Even cousins and neighborhood friends joined in.

This has been the summer of science. Summer is now done and we didn’t get to do nearly as much as I’d wanted. That’s mostly due to me. My back. Hi, Internet, have you met my back? It is the ruiner of fun, the pooper of the party.

I take copious notes for each lab. I know how to take notes because I had Mrs. Loyless in 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th grades.

I’ve been laid up with back suckage most of the summer, but the few days that I’ve been able to DO things, we’ve done science labs. These labs have been ROCKIN’! I signed up for this deal for a summer science camp from Supercharged Science for an e-class type summer camp. It’s run by me and I’ve probably spent more time getting ready for the classes than the website suggests that I do, but I like to be prepared.

We learned about air pressure. We learned about Bernoulli’s Law. We learned about flight. We did experiments dealing with air pressure using water. We made a Cartesian Diver which demonstrates air pressure. We explored Bernoulli’s Law by playing around with a windbag made from Diaper Genie bags. We built a variety of paper airplanes and birch wood airplanes. Mainly, we had fun while the kids (and the adults, too) learned new things. (I failed to document these experiments photographically)

Using a battery pack, alligator clip wire leads, and LED’s, we learned about the flow of electricity and that diodes are “one way streets” for electricity.

We did get to go to my parents’ house toward the end of summer to see DJ and Mae and their dad. Abshie and Timmus came with us. I brought along the necessary lab supplies.

The first thing we did was learn about molecules and their parts. We learned about electrons and ions and electricity. We learned some basics through some static electricity experiments, during which we made our hair stand on end with a balloon, picked up styrofoam peanuts and bits of confetti, spun a meter stick around as it balanced on a spoon, and bent a stream of water. All with a balloon!

Motor and a rheostat

Then we broke out the electrical components and built simple circuits. First we lit up LED’s. We learned about making a series with the LED’s. Then we learned about conductivity. I gave the kids a list of things and asked them if they thought those things would conduct electricity. We tested their answers with our simple circuits. We learned about amps vs volts to find out why our little circuits weren’t a danger to us.

Simple switches made with index cards, brass fasteners, and paperclips.

We modified this simple circuit in a few ways. First we put buzzers in place of the LED’s. Then we added a push-button type switch so we could control the buzzer sound. Then we learned the concept of the switch by making one out of an index card, brass fasteners and paperclips. We learned that switches are like stoplights for electrons.

Adding switches.

We added motors that turn clockwise or counterclockwise based on the polarity. I couldn’t find propellers that fit these motors anywhere so we improvised with tags made of duct tape (this was the kids’ favorite part, I think). This helped to reinforce the idea of positive and negative. We replaced the switches with rheostats and potentiometers. We learned that these devices can control the speed of the motors by limiting the electrical current passing through them. We learned that rheostats were the best at motor speed control as they seemed to be more sensitive and able to run the motor at very low speeds.

DPDT switch made from an index card, brass fasteners and paper clips.

Then we upped the difficulty level and made double pole double throw (DPDT) switches. It’s a concept used in “4-way” switches which allow you to turn one light off and on from multiple locations.

Motor and potentiometer

We took these circuits and applied them to “robots” a few days later. But that’s a whole other post.

Some more pics from our circuits lab.

We almost couldn’t move on from this because they liked it SO much!

****NOTE***** “Droppin’ Science Like Galileo Dropped the Orange” is original to the Beastie Boys. It is from the song Sounds of Science from their Paul’s Boutique album.

Even The Littles got in on the circuit action.

Everyone was very proud of the circuits they made that worked.