Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Monopoly and math...

.... and air drums.

Yesterday, we set up the monopoly game and had a great time playing. Andy became very adept at counting his own change after buying property; the boys traded several properties and negotiated fair prices for them.

We would play a while, then break for a snack or to scale the doorways (in Dan's case). At one point, Dan shouted, "I did math for the first time. See, this die is 4 and that one is 2 -- I did the math. It's 6!" Of course, he's counted things before (even groups of things) but this is the first time he's thought of it as adding.

As we played, we created a radio station for the boys at Andy played the drums along with songs he liked and shouted suggestions for other bands and songs to add to his playlist.

The game went on for some 3 or 4 hours. Everyone had his/her own set of dice. I suspect that, with all the interruptions, we often lost track of whose turn it really was. It lasted much longer than any Monopoly game I remember from childhood, and more fun than repeatedly losing to my brother, who in the 70's was the undefeated Monopoly king.

Why we call him Danger Dan....

Wanta see something cool? And dangerous!? That's how Dan greeted me a I came into the living room during a break in the Monopoly game. I said sure, and grabbed the camera. After all, how often can you see something both cool & dangerous in your own kitchen?

He proceeded to climb up the archway entrance between the dining room and laundry room. Several times, to give me the best photo ops! One climbing, one at the top, and landing when he's done.

Yep, that's him -- our intrepid Danger Dan!

RC Cars!

On Friday, the boys discovered the RC cars I'd picked up at Costco last week. With the Live & Learn conference happening here in a week, both boys wanted to do the RC Cars funshop, but only Dan had a RC car (a very loud truck). Gary has one, but it runs on a battery that dies after only 20 minutes or so. The two I got came as a set, and can 'drift.'

The boys were thrilled and thankfully, each chose a different car. The looks of delight and surprise on their faces were well worth the price of cars and batteries. Andy said, "But Mom, if you give them to us only on the day of the conference, we won't have any time to practice."

So, off to the park we went, to use the handball courts at Los Ranchos. They had a ball, and were very good at driving the cars in no time at all. After picking Gary up at work, it was off to another park for car time at the basketball court. The cars are now with us everywhere we go -- never know when you'll get a chance to race them on any flat surface!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

trip to the park

Last Thursday, we decided to check out the park in our new neighborhood. We'd been there last week, and found it's actually a park on two levels. The upper park is at our street level; the lower park is 100+ ft down a steep bluff/hill. Much too steep to really climb back up. A couple of days ago, I picked up several maps of walking tours in Albuquerque, including one for the neighborhood immediately around the park. It showed a biking/footpath winding down the mesa north of the two park areas.

When we arrived at the upper park area, we found a couple of 20-something guys there with a pit bull that was jumping into a small tree and biting the lowest branch, which was maybe 4' up. It looked like the dog would have happily climbed the tree.

We easily found the bike/walking path and started out. The path is less steep than the hill, but only because it's mostly switchbacks on an asphalt path. Given the slope and our recent rains, at many points the path is covered by dry sand left behind by mudslides. Dan and I were on our bikes. Andy had his scooter since he'd been unable to find his helmet.

The views are great from the park -- among the best in, and of, the city and surrounding mountains. Once we reached the bottom of the path, we spent about 30 minutes at the playground, tho it was both too hot and too covered by mud-flow sands to be much fun. Dan and I hiked up the hill a bit to see the gullies cut by the recent rains. I am amazed by how very green things are this year.

By the time we got back up top, the dog was gone so we lounged around for a while in the shade. The trip home seemed much longer, but we hadn't been home 10 minutes when Andy asked if we could go back later that day!

Birthday/Farewell Party

Yesterday, there was an early birthday party for Benjaman, one of Andy's oldest friends. Sadly, it was also something of a farewell party, as Benjaman and his family move away for a two-year temporary move.

Andy is sad to see Benjaman go (we all are) but there was lots of excitement yesterday about what to see and do during their two months in the DC metro area. Talking about all the museums and zoo made me miss Northern Virginia -- for just a moment or two.

We finished up our day at a friend's farm (forgot to take pictures), grilling burgers outdoors at dusk, and a small bonfire for the kids. Often more smoke than fire -- but with laughing, chasing, dancing kids, Chris playing guitar in the background and cool air, it was a wonderful evening.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ice cream!

After the train ride, we stopped at Cold Stone Creamery where we found such exotic flavors as blue cotton candy and pink gubblebum! Both were wonderful, and even in the love it! (medium) size more than either boy could finish. While we enjoyed ice cream, we talked about our favorite parts of the train ride.

Riding the Rails

We got back to the platform to find quite a crowd, all waiting to ride the Rail Runner to Bernalillo and back. Okay, saying that probably gives the impression there's not all that much to do for excitement in Albuquerque, that locals line up to ride the fancy new commuter train for fun, but I really was surprised how many folks were doing just that.

On the platform, Andy immediately made a friend. Sean is 7-1/2 and he's in town from California to visit his grandparents. The boys had a great time riding both directions and hanging out with Sean. The boys all wanted to get out at Bernalillo, but I explained that the next train doesn't leave Bernalillo for another 4 hours, and there's just not enough in Bernalillo to keep anyone busy for that long!

albuquerque artwork

After the wishing well, we walked around to check out some of Andy's favorite art. Usually his best view of these murals is as we drive up 2nd around downtown. He was thrilled to see them up close and get pictures!

These pictures are all from one mural. It's almost impossible to catch it all in one shot, and Andy didn't want pictures of the parked cars in the shot, so we got up close and took shots in order to try to show the continuity.

We had great weather for our outing, cloudy and cool but no rain. Course, that's only because I brought the umbrella.

on the Rapid Ride

Two happy boys on the bus!

Today, at long last, we had our much-anticipated trip on both the Rapid Ride bus (Albuquerque's express bus) and the Rail Runner, Albuquerque's new commuter rail.

We had a great time. Our first bus driver was very helpful when Dan had trouble getting his change into the fare machine. He asked his name, was very kind and had the kind of voice that made me think of Barry White every time he called out a stop.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Andy's Insights

Some recent examples of Andy's insights

In the car one day, on the way to the playground, Andy said, I know what 9x9 is!

You do?

Yeah, it's 81! You know how I figured that out? 9 times 3 is 27, then 27 + 27 is 54, and 27 more is 81!

So, he didn't just memorize the times tables, or the trick that in multiples of nine, the digits in the answer add up to 9. He understands that 9 units of 9 is the same as 3 units of 9 added up three times!

And why did he figure this out? Just because was curious and confident that his understanding of math -- as he comes across it in everyday life -- would be enough to figure out the answer to his random wondering.

On paper, in a math class, what he did in his head would look like this: 3(9X3) and they'd call it something like pre-algebra, and to someone like me as a student it would have looked very scary, because when I was taught math in school it was arcane and took many steps to reach the answer. And even tho I knew what the right answer was, I could never make their way work. Andy doesn't need to work it out 'the right way' -- his own methods work fine.

His favorite math fact in recent weeks has been 100 x 100. His method, as he'll tell anyone who will listen, is that since 100 x 10 is 1,000 you just do that math 9 more times for 9,000, add it and you get 10,000. The really cool part is he can do it faster in his head than he could on paper and this way, it's always available to him.

Gotta love math that happens for its own joy!

On another day…… Andy explains global warming

Recently the topic of global warming came up and Dan asked what it is. Before I could answer, Andy said, "I know -- let me tell him!" Here it is:"Global warming is when the planet gets too warm, and it causes the ice in places like Antartica and the North Pole to melt, which enhances (one of his new favorite words) the oceans and makes the water higher, so someday the coasts will be flooded. It's caused by all the stuff we put in the air."All this gleaned just from what he hears around him, since it's not something I ever explained to him. Recently, he explained to his grandparents why we don't shop at Walmart -- honestly, I'm afraid to hear what he may have said, or what they thought, since he tends to mix up all my politics and commentary in a very confusing way.....