Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Moon Sand


Making Moon Sand was on my Summer Bucket list. I used the recipe from here. Alas, none of us was too thrilled with the result. I expected the mixture to be more like a wet beach sand. Instead we ended up with the sand “oobleck” that was first too oozy and then too hard. Also, somehow I got cornstarch all over myself mixing and playing with it. Good thing that I didn’t add food June27_Playdoh coloring – at least the mess was not too permanent. I was quite relieved when Anna asked for a playdoh instead and spent another 2 hours contentedly making cupcakes. Oh well, I can permanently take the moon sand off the list of things to make unless someone offers a better recipe.



On the positive note, we made another “check” in our Summer Bucket List. We found a great brand-new kite at the garage sale for $3, and then papa taught us how to fly it. The wind was not cooperating too well, but we did manage to get it up high once. Unlike moon sand, this is something I want to do again and again, and Anna agrees with me.

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

What My Child Is Reading – June 25, 2012

Somehow this week we ran out of new books really quickly. By Tuesday Anna was complaining bitterly for the rest of the week that she has nothing to read. At least it made her revisit her favorites from our own library and read some of the books many times. We need to start recording her books for our summer reading program. And last week I was able to visit all the blogs that linked up. Hopefully I will be able to do it again going forward :)

Lots and Lots of Coins

Lots and Lots of Coins and Follow the Money were recommended by Living and Learning a few weeks back. Anna really enjoyed Lots and Lots of Coins while Follow the Money was a bit over her head. Even I learned a lot from Lots and Lots of Coins, and we had fun looking at real coins in more detail – something that Anna was not really interested in before reading this book. Now she is planning her very own coin collection, but of course she wants to start it with some rare coins. I have no idea how she plans to obtain them.

The Puppy Place

I finally found the new series that Anna really likes. The Puppy Place by Ellen Miles has very little conflict and focuses on lives and personalities of the puppies that the main character’s family fosters before finding them a “forever home”. The book is relatively long, but the language is pretty simple, Scholastic rates the difficulty level as 2.3-2.5. My husband also tried to get her interested in Geronimo Stinton series, but as I expected she said that Geronimo is too scary. In fact, she expelled the book out of her room in the middle of reading it, because the chapter names had the word “skull in it”. Ugh.

Finders Keepers

We read more books about India this week. Finders Keepers is a story for children written by Robert Arnett who also wrote an adult travelogue about India. We both enjoyed the book that managed to fit a lot of information about India in a story-telling format. It was also timely – we had a lot of discussions about “Do what you ought to do not what you want to do” in the house.

I limit this review to three books this week because I am running out of time :) Let’s see what everyone else was reading this week.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Week In Review – June 24, 2011

In our lives… Anna had a kindergarten screening on Monday. The teacher who screened her had recommended us to consider K-1 class if they have it this year. She also happens to be teaching this class. She said that Anna is perfectly ready for that class despite her entering K before 5. We’ll see what happens, but Anna loved the teacher and didn’t want to leave school. However, she does enjoy her summer camp that started this week. We kept her regular schedule there – 3 times a week until 3:30 pm.
Afterschooling proceeded without any serious planning on my part. Anna was practicing writing in her “Wipe-and-erase” books. She is convinced that she is not a good writer, and she is also convinced that she has to “learn writing” before she comes to K. She also begged me to play DreamBox again. I got a trial membership and she is breezing through the initial games. Interestingly, now she brings the level of understanding and ease that she absolutely didn’t have 6 months ago, so I am thinking of renewing my subscription.
My favorite thing was celebrating Father’s Day. Anna made papa a new photo frame, and I selected my favorite picture of the two of them together. Anna adores her father, and it always warms my heart to see the two of them engaged in something together. Anna has inherited a lot from him – his warm personality, his cuddliness and his attention to detail. Oh, and also good looks :)
Places we are going… Pool, pool and more pool! It’s been incredibly hot here this week, and we are so lucky to have a wonderful community pool (we pay membership fee for it, but it’s so worth it!). Anna loves water and a lot more fearless this year after taking swim lessons than she was last year. She still loves her swimming ring, but she at least tries gliding and diving. Her papa hopes to improve her swimming over the summer – hopefully he will accomplish this feat.
Favorite quotes. Out of the blue Anna told me that she wants to make movies when she grows up and wanted to know how she can learn to make movies. I gave her a short overview of different roles in movie making. Anna: Maybe there is a class to learn how to make movies. And different kids have different jobs.
  • Me: You know, maybe next year you can go to movie making summer camp. But big kids will have big jobs, and little kids will have little jobs.
  • Anna: I want a big job, so sign me up when I am six.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Homemade Face Paint

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June19_FacePaint1Part of our present to papa for Father’s Day was sending him off on a photo trip with a friend. Since both Smarty and I are still getting over our colds, I decided against going to the pool. Instead we mixed up a batch of face paint following the following instructions:
In each muffin cup put: 1 tsp cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon water (I used a little more), 1/2 teaspoon baby lotion or whatever you use on your children (something mild), and 2 drops food coloring
Smarty was in charge of measurements and overdid cornstarch a bit, and we had to rescue our face paint from becoming an oobleck, but the end result was quite striking. She really enjoyed painting my face, hands and feet and took many pictures of her efforts. She told me that she wants to be an artist, but “to paint on skin, not a paper”. Maybe she will be a make-up artist one day… with a bit of practice :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What My Child Is Reading – June 18, 2011

Mama's Saris

We started to read Indian-themed books this week, both about Indian customs and about animals common to India. Mama’s Saris by Pooja Makhijani/Elena Gomez was a clear favorite. I almost felt sad that I don’t have a special dress to pass to my daughter and felt kind of bad for my Indian girlfriends who all happen to have sons. It’s a great cross-cultural read, but you can expect your girls to beg you for a sari. Anna certainly did and she read this book several times every day this week.

How Full Is Your Bucket

A couple of weeks ago Mama Smiles blog recommended Have You Filled a Bucket Today? book. Our library didn’t have it, but I found a similar book. I liked how the authors Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer conveyed the concept of how kindness and generosity pays off and makes life better. I am not so sure that Anna fully got a message though – she was mostly preoccupied with all the situations when the character’s bucket was emptied rather than filled. I think we need to practice generous behavior more often rather than just read about it.

A Boy and a Turtle

We read another book this week in “self-help for children” category – A Boy and a Turtle by Lori Lite/Kimberly Fox. I found that the story didn’t flow well when I read it aloud, but Anna seemed to enjoy it and said that it made her feel happy. I want to try and practice the relaxation techniques from the book with her and see what happens.

Elephant Prince

One thing that I like about our country studies is that they reinforce to Anna that the world has many different beliefs. Elephant Prince by Amy Novesky/Belgin Wedman is a very beautiful story about one of the most popular Hindu Gods – Ganesh. To be honest, I didn’t know the story myself, so I was kind of wincing at the page when the child’s head turns to ashes (it’s illustrated very sensitively) and winced even more reading an author’s note in the end about the alternative version of how Ganesh got an elephant’s head (I didn’t read that part to Anna). Illustrations are fantastic, and the book is a worthy read for 4+ crowd.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Week in Review – June 17, 2012


In our lives… Life continues to be busy, with a lot of juggling. My husband was sick for the first half of the week, but he seems a lot better now. Anna tried hard to be nice to him, and I managed to come home early to back him up. I think being very busy at work is a very permanent thing for me, but in a way I am also enjoying new challenges and using more of my brain, so to speak. It was Anna’s last week of preschool, but she will go there for a summer camp with the same schedule and same teachers. It’s a little sad that she won’t see many of her classmates any longer, since they don’t leave close. She doesn’t seem too fazed about it, since she didn’t develop any special friendships with her classmates, except maybe with one girl who is also staying for the summer. 

June13_StickerSceneAfterschool” was not happening much. We are reading books about India and from time to time Anna picks up some of her wipe-and-erase books that are always available and does something in them. She still resists writing and reads a lot. She does more drawing lately, mostly Valentine cards for us or something abstract like this “Hello Kitty town”.


My favorite thing is watching Anna making up her own games. She always talks to herself or hums to herself when she plays. For a while I was worried that she spends too much time reading and not enough time doing, but lately her activities seem to be balanced, and I also really enjoy the fact that she is able to entertain herself once she understands that adults are not available.


Places we are going… Well, the only place I am going is to work. But when my husband felt well enough, he took Anna to SF zoo with another family, and as always she had a blast. She was disappointed that they didn’t get to visit her favorite spot – a petting zoo, but her favorites this time around were kangaroos. We have a great kangaroo exhibit, especially interesting when they are lively and hopping about.


Favorite quotes: D was in a whiny mood. He must have woken up on a wrong foot.

Papa has a great soft cozy pillow – it’s his belly. But you, mama, have two – your breasts and your popo (butt).

To the friend who just had a baby: Did you know? Your baby will cry and cry and cry.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The United Kingdom Wrap-Up

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We have had a lot of fun studying The United Kingdom for about three weeks. I try to pick certain “symbols” of each country for Anna during this geography pass through and create a page with these symbols. Then I cut this page and put it in the envelope. This envelope goes into the country page in our geography binder (still in the making). Hopefully Anna will revisit those pages every so often and her memories will be refreshed by the printables and 2D crafts related to the country. We keep those manageable – usually 2 things per country. We did the royal wedding paper dolls and a “London map” for UK.

Who Were the Beatles We also read a lot of books about England or the books set in England. By the way, regardless of how much my daughter begged me to let her read Harry Potter, I didn’t give in. I really love Harry Potter series, and I want her to read these books when she is more ready for them emotionally. I had my lesson learned with Who Were the Beatles. Anna was stunned and shaken when she learned that John Lennon was killed by the fan. It’s one thing to play “poof, you are dead” and another thing to realize that these things do happen to real people in the real world. Regardless, she still loved the book, refuses to return it to the library and entertains me with trivia from Fab 4 lives. We also, of course, looked at some clips of The Beatles live performances on YouTube and listened to our CDs.
June4_LondonMap We both had a good time learning more about the United Kingdom, its tradition and culture. Perhaps we could have done some cooking too, but I am not a big fan of British cuisine. Our next stop is India – I didn’t have any problems finding 9 famous things from there including one of our closest friends :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Week In Review – June 11, 2011


It’s official – Anna is a preschool graduate! She had her graduation ceremony on Friday. I might be this rare parent who doesn’t feel very sentimental about preschool graduation. Maybe I’d be more sad if I were more thrilled about her experiences during this year. It was OK, but I am not at all sad to see Anna leave this school and go somewhere where she will hopefully be somewhat more challenged. Besides, she is going back to school tomorrow for the last week of school year and then she is going to attend a summer camp there, so she is not really saying “goodbye” just yet.


Anna had a good week with papa and opened the swimming pool season. Unfortunately, she overstayed in the pool and was running a low-grade fever on graduation day. As always when she is not feeling well, she was also whiny and clingy, but she was better by the end of the weekend. Same cannot be said about parents – it looks like both of us got her cold too. It seems to be a new trend – Anna has a virus for a day, and then we battle it for a week. Here is hoping that everyone gets better quickly this time around.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What My Child Is Reading – June 11, 2011

This week I was attending a big conference in Las Vegas, but before my departure we brought quite a few library books home. They only lasted until Wednesday, when my husband made another library run with Anna. I will focus on two books we read together before I left and one book she told me about on the phone.

Amazing Grace

We read Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman a few weeks back, and I was very glad to pick up Amazing Grace book from the same series. In the book Grace wants to play Peter Pan in the school production, and one of her friends points out to her that Peter Pan is not black. Anna interrupted the reading by saying that Grace is not black either. It amused me, because it looks like she doesn’t notice race differences in children, but she does see them in adults. Anyway, it’s a very inspiring book, but might be a bit old for a younger audience.

Happy Birthday Everywhere

Happy Birthday Everywhere by Arlene Erlbach is an interesting non-fiction book on how birthdays are celebrated in different countries around the world. Every page features a country (in alphabetical order), a description of birthday traditions and a craft, a game or a special birthday treat from that country. We just started reading it together, and I hope to pick up next week from where we left off.

Horton Hears the Who

Horton Hears the Who was the book that got special mention in our phone conversation. I was surprised that Anna has decided to read it. She deemed it too scary in the past from looking at the pictures. She is pretty attuned to face expressions, and she saw the conflict without reading a book. She told me that she liked the book even though “it was a little scary” and that she wants to read it together with me, “because then I won’t be so scared”. I don’t think she is quite ready for the movie, because I remember seeing it on the plane and thinking that it’s too intense for my daughter.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Royal Wedding and a Map of London.

Princess Gown

As part of our virtual visit to the United Kingdom we talked about the Queen and her family. Even though I personally have very little interest in the lives of Will and Kate, I thought that Anna might be fascinated by the idea of modern princes and princesses, so we looked at video clips of their wedding on YouTube and at my copy of commemorative wedding Times magazine. We also read The Princess Gown which was recommended by Brimful Curiosities some time ago. June5_RWedding1 Anna didn’t care much about the story, because the queen was initially mean to the tailors, but she loved the extension activity. I used the same idea as Brimful Curiosities, but I got “real” Kate and Will dolls and outfit ideas from Activity Village site. Anna has decided that her prince will wear a coat of many colors and used every possible marker on his suit. She spent even more time designing the gown for her princess. She used glitter markers, stamps June5_RWedding2 and stickers. She spent less time on the veil, but I think her princess does look very much ready for a very special night. She was delighted to play with her paper dolls, but for some reason the play scenario very quickly turned to “kids who are married but still too young to stay on their own and need to get undressed and take a nap”. I guess the elaborate wedding is beyond her grasp. The only wedding that she attended so far was a very basic ceremony in San Francisco Town Hall.

June4_LondonMap2 Unrelated to the book, we did another quick project about London. I drew a very simple map and gave Anna a set of stickers I purchased during my business trip to UK last summer. Then she went wild creating her own version of London. Her own caption for this project was a “squiggly city”. I certainly hope that she will get to visit London for real one day. It was the first Western European capital I got to visit in 1995, and I am looking forward to coming back for pleasure and not for business.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Week In Review – June 05, 2012


In our lives… This week was another very busy week at work for me, but at least I managed to be at home reasonably early once or twice and we all enjoyed Memorial Day weekend. Our pool has opened on Memorial Day, but alas, the weather has been unusually cold and rainy for this time of the year, so swimming has to wait. Because of the weather we had to hold our “welcome baby” party for our friends inside – it’s the first time our house saw 20 people crammed inside at once, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Daughter has been an angel during the party and contentedly played with the next youngest guest who was about 12. Now I can cross one more thing off my Summer Bucket list :)

June3_Games “Afterschool” was light this week. We don’t do any writing or math at the moment, but we play games and learn more about the world around us. It’s interesting to see how Anna slowly develops understanding of strategy in simple games, but she certainly still has some way to go before she starts winning these games without me letting her win once in a while :)


My favorite thing is how strongly Anna identifies herself as a reader. She knows that this is her strength, and she also simply loves books. We read a book together about kindergarten this week, and she pointed out the book corner and said, look, there is a place for me. I hope her love of reading will be cherished and supported once she starts K in fall.


Places we are going. Last Sunday we went hiking to one of our favorite places in Santa Cruz mountains. Unfortunately, this beautiful state park is slated for closure in the fall due to budget cuts, so we are determined to enjoy it while we can. Anna also went to her swim class as usual – next week is the last class of spring session, and I certainly hope that the weather will get better, so she can continue in our community pool.

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