Sunday, September 18, 2011

Anatomy Lessons: A four year old's take on how the body works...

Zavion asks a zillion questions a day.  Lately, he's been really obsessed with how the body works. Being a physiologist by training, I'm happy to supply the answers (when I can!) He's especially interested in how the body sends/receives messages, how food helps the body and, of course, being a four year old boy, the workings of the nether regions as well.

Here are a few tidbits of conversation from the last few days:

Me: Zavion, why did you knock that over?  Z: Welllllllll.... It wasn't my fault. My brain just sent a message to my hand to move that way, so it did. There was nothing I could do. It was my brain's fault, not mine! (using your own brain as a scapegoat? Pretty clever...)

Me: Zavion, it's time to go to bed! Z: Welllllllll.... My stomach is ready for bed, but my brain isn't. My brain is much more powerful than my stomach, so I shouldn't go to bed yet.

'My heart just sent a message to my brain and my brain sent a message to my mouth to tell you I love you.' (aahhh)

'My stomach is telling my esophagus that it's hungry, so we need to eat right now!' (I just found out that in England it's spelled Oesophagus! Who knew?) 

After peeing down his leg on the way to the toilet- 'Sorry, Mommy - my bladder was sending a message to my brain that I had to go pee, but my willy got the message first!'

Z: Mommy, I need some water fast! Me: Why? Z: Because my mouth is burning! I think the germs are having a little campfire in my mouth and I need some water to put out the fire!

'Girls can't pee standing up because all they have is a little hole down there, no willy, right? The first time I saw a girl down there, I thought it was an injury.'

Me: Zavion, you're so cute, I could eat you up! Z: But, mom, if you eat me, then you won't have a son anymore and you'll be sad!

Z: How do I turn my nose off? Me: What?? Z: My nose just sent a message to my brain that this place smells disgusting and my brain doesn't know how to turn it off!

Oh, and the questions keep coming...

'Are girls' holes more private than boys' willies? Scrotums are more private than willies, right?' (And a doozie from a few months ago- 'are girls' parts made out of skin or popcorn?')

Why do some people have fuzzy armpits?

What if you get that prickly stuff on your face like Daddy Jack and can't kiss me anymore? (whiskers)

What are those red squiggles in your eyeballs?

How come mans' boobies don't grow like ladies' boobies? It's not fair!

How come where your joints are, the body is really hard? (knees, etc)

If I didn't have a bottom anymore, how would I go poop?

Why are some people allergic to stuff? Am I allergic to cow and pig meat? Is that why we don't eat it?

How does food make us stronger if it just comes out the other end as poop? (Me: only the waste comes out in the poop, the nutrients go into your blood.) But, how does the body know which are nutrients and what is waste?

If my food goes into my trachea instead of my (o)esophagus, will I die? But, not all the time, right?

Finally, proof that my brainwashing is working:

'I'm such a big, strong boy because I eat healthy stuff and exercise, right? We don't like McDonalds and Coke and cotton candy, because they're yucky and don't make you strong.'

(ok, one more tidbit from the past-) When he was about 3  1/2, his class was discussing other words for 'chew' (chomp, gobble, etc) and Z said,  'Masticate is another word for chew!' His teachers told me about it because they were concerned - they'd never heard the word and thought it might be something naughty. No, teachers, masticate really IS a word for chew! 

I'm sure there have been many more, but I'll leave it for now. Never a dull moment around here...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Iceland, part 2

I'll start with a few Zavion quotes from the day: "Look, Mommy, I'm exercising - see, I'm breathing hard, but I just keep going. I'm going to be big and strong because exercise is so good for me!" "Look at those cute little furry fellas! (sheep)" (Do you want the last cookie?) "But, that's impossible - how can we have one cookie with three people?" "I can't go in there because I'm too confused and embarrassed."

Back to the trip. Iceland - day 4
We left our little hostel pretty early and drove back to Reykjavik on the same route which we had come. We did some different stops, though, and it still managed to take us 12 hours.  Again, I'll concentrate on pictures:

The seaside town of Hofn and a sliver of the Vatnajokull glacier.

Another glacier filled lake - Jokulsarlon. This one is well known and we took the requisite boat trip on the lake. Apparantly, the black on the glaciers is ash from May's eruption. And, according to Zavion, the ice is just a little cold! I mean, what kind of mother makes her kid hold a block of ice just for a photo?

Skaftafell National Park - and some beautiful weather!


'Mommy, what does V-A-T-N-A... spell?' ; Warm enough for short sleeves!; Zavion, what are you doing on the floor? 'I'm contemplating going under there...'

Along the road...


Fun at the beach.

Great afternoon light at Dyrholaey. And another fabulous day :)

We had one last full day in Iceland, and managed to sleep in until 11 :) It was a dreary day, so we headed into Reykjavik, had a late lunch at the botanical gardens and spent some time at the zoo (really, more like a farm) where we fed the world's loudest pigs, watched some cow milkin' and played peek a boo with the seals. Back at the hotel, we ate, packed and Z worked hard on writing his letters in his workbooks. We also played the opposite game. Here's an excerpt:  me- what's the opposite of up? Z- down.  me- what's the opposite of  fast? Z- slow. Dad- what's the opposite of delicious? Z - healthy! (haha)  me - what's the opposite of love? Z - hard. me- what? Z- Well, it's easy for kids and mommies to love, but it's hard for mans to love ladies, right? Just a little bit hard?  (Oh, kiddo - you have no idea...)

All in all, we loved Iceland. Zavion even says he wants to live there (but only if cousin Sebastian comes to live with us, too.) CHEERS!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Destination: Iceland

First stop of the trip - Iceland. Somewhere I've always wanted to visit. Now, some might say that Iceland is not, in fact, on the way from Seattle to Zimbabwe, but I tend to make up my own geography when it suits me. And if you view the world as a globe rather than a map, it's not that far off. In fact, our flight took only 6 1/2 hours - about the same as flying direct from Seattle to Miami. My father, on the other hand, flew in from Tallahassee and had a 24 + hour trip.  Not only am I brave for taking this trip with my four year old, but some would question my sanity for also traveling with my father. But, other than some questionable taste in music (seriously, Dad- Billy Ocean is in your top 1000 songs of all time?) and a few visits from Mr Burpypants, we had an excellent time!

But, about Iceland. I never thought a place without trees could be so stunning. And so unlike anywhere else. The drive from the airport to Reykjavik, though, was less than inspiring. Fortunately, things imrproved and we soon learned what all the hype is about.

Day One: Boiling mud holes, steam vents and the Blue Lagoon.
Zavion's take on the mud pits? They must have been created by a meteor back in dinosaur times (the holes are dinosaur footptrints.) And the smell? Apparently, sulfur smells most like rotten bananas and rockjuice (?) He's creative, if nothing else.
Zavion relaxing in the Blue Lagoon. Perfect temperature - though not cheap. 'Mommy, why do all those people have white on their faces? Are they trying to be vampires?'

We picked up my father in the afternoon and Zavion promptly fell asleep at 4 pm. And couldn't be roused for anything. I guess jetlag had set in. As for Dad and I, we made it to 8 o'clock.

DAY TWO - Golden Circle

Zavion awoke fully at 3 am and began peppering me with whispered questions - everything from body parts to animals to geography. 'Zavion, why are you asking so many question?' 'Because I like to learn new things and you said that's really important!' Good point. So, it was an early start to the day. Having skipped dinner, Z was famished by breakfast time. 'Do you know what my stomach just said to my esophagus? "I'm hungry - send me some food down here!"' Point well taken. (During breakfast, his stomach was heard saying, 'thanks, esophagus, but keep it coming!')

Today, we took our rental car (christened the 'Silver Bullet') and hit the well-trodden 'golden circle' route - including Pingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gulfoss waterfall. The trip did not disappoint.


Pingvellir Nat'l Park. Like a little lost world. This is the rift where the American and European plates meet. We did a lot of walking and a little rock throwing.  While walking, Z wrote a song dedicated to our car - "I love silver bullet. I love it so much. It's my favorite car in Iceland. I love it because, because, because, because.... it can kill werewolves!"

Stokker Geyser at Geysir Nat'l Park. Pretty impressive stuff. We lunched in the overpriced visitor's center and Z had a go at trying to be Thor.

Our next stop was Gulfoss waterfall - and, though the pictures don't do it justice, it is a very impressive falls, indeed! Zavion even used the word 'exhilerating' to describe it!
After all that driving, our plan was to have dinner in Reykjavik and check out the town a little bit. Well, Zavion managed to fall fast asleep. At the table. Before our pizza had even arrived. So, another early night to the hotel and to bed.

DAY THREE - driving east. This day consisted of a LOT of driving after a delicious breakfast at the hotel. Our goal was, according to GPS, about a 5 hour drive away. Of course, with lots of stops for short walks, meals and countless photo opps (not to mention an ash storm and crushed finger,) it took us 12. Thank goodness for the ipod touch to keep Zavion busy (I have a love/hate relationship with that thing!)

Instead of describing the day with words -  I'll do it with pictures :)

Random views in the southeast. These are picked from hundreds of similar pix. It was truly beautiful.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall. 'Mommy, I've never walked behind a waterfall before!'

Skogaafoss waterfall. Here's where Zavion met his one kid friend of the trip - a little French boy that he ran around, jumped and played 'get the stick' with. When I asked Z the little boy's name, he said, 'I tried to ask, but he doesn't speak English OR Zavionese!' They had a great time despite the language barrier and the playtime still ranks tops on Z's trip highlights. Makes me sad that he doesn't have a permanent playmate on this trip! Soon, though.
The coast near Vik - our lunchstop (and the site of the afore-mentioned finger smashing.) Yes, it was only lunch time. A morning of waterfalls.... an afternoon of glaciers and icebergs...

We stumbled across this iceberg filled lake totally by chance - it isn't on any map or sign-posted from the road. I turned off the road for a picture and we decided to follow this tiny dirt track. Boy, was it worth it. We practically had to ourselves and it ended up being one of the highlights. Throwing rocks at the bergs, naming the shaped ones, even touching them. It's these little, unexpected finds that make travelling so much fun!

We continued our still picturesque drive until it was almost dark. Found our farmstay, but not without incident. It was more remote than we thought and when we arrived, nobody could be found. By making a quick phonecall and finding a crazy-haired guy on a tractor, we finally got our room. Rustic, but comfortable. We were too exhausted to worry about driving anywhere for dinner, so we settled for tuna, crackers, grapes and cookies in our room. 

That's all I have time for right now. I'll finish Iceland in the next post. And then try to catch up with Norway, Copenhagen and England.  I'll leave you with this picture:  Dad had no idea what was going on behind him :)-