Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valentine Day Preparations

image image
image image

I am not a big fan of Valentine’s Day, but my daughter is already very fired up about the day and has all kinds of grand plans about special Valentines for me, her father and her teacher. I let her plan those special Valentines on her own, but I also know that we will need 24 Valentines for her classmates. So this year I attempted the project that Kelly at Little Wonder’s Days described in detail – shaving cream painting. Jan28_ShavingCreamPainting5

Kelly said that the project was “not much mess at all” and in principle I agree even though it looks pretty messy from the pictures I took. But the very fact that I was able to stand back, take pictures and let my 5 year old handle most of painting after a short demonstration makes me agree with her. Clean-up took only about 15 minutes, not much longer than after a regular “paint job”.


Daughter loved the whole experience and didn’t mind washing hands and tools several times during this card making process. She insisted that boys will not like pink cards and chose blue and yellow mix for them. A couple of lessons learned:

  • 1. Contrast colors would have worked better – our pink and red mixed more or less into one color.
  • 2. Don’t even think of using regular printed paper! The heavier cardstock, the better.
  • 3. Try to remove as much shaving cream as possible before setting out to dry. Otherwise, shaving cream will flake off later (this ended up being the messiest part).

So the first part of our Valentine’s preparations is over. The next step is to actually decorate and write 24 Valentines. 2 are down, 22 to go!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week In Review–January 29, 2012


Jan21_CookiesSchool. Anna had a lot of fun events this week. On Monday they celebrated Chinese New Year by painting banners with Chinese characters. They continued to learn more about Chinese characters throughout a week. Anna’s school does a lot to encourage writing. This week was an annual author week – they had three different authors visiting their school, reading their books and telling stories about writing. In addition we went to an author event in our library and brought home The Year of the Dragon by Oliver Chin signed specially for Anna. Unfortunately, Friday was a furlough day, but YMCA was opened all day, and Anna whipped up a lot of fantastic crafts there – they will all be sold (or so she hopes) at the Art Show in February.


Afterschool. Life has been busy this week, but we had fun spending some quality time together even if it wasn’t much. With my husband gone, Anna went to Y every day and stayed there until at least 4 pm. In the evenings we were playing, talking and reading. There was also a library visit, gymnastics and a Russian lesson. Quite a lot for one tiny 5 year old, but she has been in a great and helpful mood all week except missing papa whiny moments every so often.


Places we are going. We had a super gun visit to San Jose Children Discovery Museum yesterday, and it deserves a separate post. They had a special Chinese New Year event with a lot of performances of local Chinese youth groups including dancers, musicians playing traditional Chinese instruments, and martial arts practitioners. Anna volunteered to dance a Lion Dance – there she is as a tail of a Lion.

Jan28_CDM2Quote of the week:

  • Anna asked me about lottery numbers on the window of the store. After doing my best to explain to her what a lottery was, I asked her,
  • What would you do with a million dollars?
  • Anna (after some consideration). I would get a house. If I am ready to get a house.
  • Me: How will you know if you are ready?
  • Anna: If I am 17 or 18 years old, then I am ready. Maybe I am ready. Because, you know, nothing is quite the same when you are not around. But don’t worry, mama, you and papa can come and live with me in my new house.
  • Now, here is my favorite from the last week:image

Cachey’s Mama Preschool shared two posts about her preschool house unit. Her preschoolers were comparing houses around the world, building with marshmallows and completed an incredibly well constructed “protect the house” experiment. I wish my daughter had attended her preschool!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What My Child Is Reading–January 28, 2012

There was another big library haul this week. Anna threw a few picture books in the book bag – whatever looked good to her. I added some of my own choices. We are still reading through Mr Popper’s Penguins together at night, so I am only going to profile the books that we managed to read together during the day.

I want my hat back

Our library finally got much-talked-about I Want My Hat Back by Joe Klassen. Strangely, I couldn’t check it out but we read it together in the library. All I can say is one of those “boy books”. My girl just went vivid at the idea that one character clearly lied to another character. She actually got quite loud about it saying, But… but… he is wearing a hat! He is not telling the truth! The humor of the ending didn’t really register with her even though she understood the ending quite well. Anyway, now I can cross this book off my ever growing “Must Read” list.

The Year of the Dragon

On Tuesday our library had a very fun event – Oliver Chin was reading a new book in his Tales from the Chinese Zodiac series – The Year of the Dragon. I was glad that I was able to take Anna there – Oliver Chin is not only a good writer, he is also quite an actor. The story is very engaging, and the illustrations by Jennifer Wood are soo cute (Anna’s words). I definitely recommend checking out this series, and we ended up buying this book.

See Inside Your Head

We are doing a little human body science here, and I was happy to pick up See Inside Your Head book in the library. As all Usborne books, it’s extremely well done and full of interesting information. I can say that I learned a lot more about brain from it. It was too much for Anna (this book is recommended for 9+) but she was very fascinated with the page explaining mental illnesses – she is usually interested with all the things that can go wrong.

Owl Babies

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell was Anna’s K book for this week. We read it many times before, and if you missed it, make sure to read it while your children are still young. It’s classic, and illustrations by Patrick Benson add so much charm to the story. Anna commented that the reason owl babies were so worried is because their mama didn’t tell them she would be gone. I think it’s a great point coming from a trusting 5 year old who wants to know everything that is going on.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Writing Acrostic Poems

image image

AcrosticI picked up an interesting book during our last library’s visit – Ana and Adam Build an Acrostic from Poetry Builders series. Victoria Peterson-Hilleque did a pretty good job both explaining what acrostic is and creating a story around it. The characters in the book are in the fourth grade, but my kindergartener was quite interested in the story and excited to write her own acrostic poems once she figured out that rhyming is not a requirement for them. So far her stories were one word entries, but I am writing some with her to help her understand that she can really fit a story into an acrostic form:


  • Fish                  Old light from faraway stars
  • Is                     Comes to
  • Swimming          Earth
  • Happily              And falls quietly into
  • In                     Night waves
  • Neat
  • Groups

Have you tried to write poetry with your children?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chinese New Year Baking

image image
Where the Mountain Meets the MoonTo be honest, I only remembered about Chinese New Year when I saw some interesting events on our library’s website and when I saw Chinese crafts pop up in my Google Reader. However, we spent quite a lot of time “in China” recently by reading along a superb book by Grace Lin Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and playing with tangrams. Smarty also knew about Chinese New Year from school and requested her favorite dish for dinner tonight – a Chinese takeout of sweet-and-sour chicken and rice.
We might still make it to some Chinese New Year events next week if all the stars are aligned, so I decided to go not with a craft but with a baking project on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I was inspired by this post, but used All Recipes variation instead. Next time I am curious to see how butter-free recipe would work.
First, we typed some wishes/wise phrases to put inside of our cookies. Smarty’s first suggestion was, Happiness is the key to success. I asked her how she came up with this, and she said that she got it once in a fortune cookie. She typed some on her own and was delighted to be introduced to the power of Microsoft Word spellchecker. I hope she won’t decide that lear ning to spell is no longer a requirement.
Smarty loves to help in the kitchen – baking/cooking projects are always met with much more enthusiasm than arts and crafts. Her favorite part was, of course, adding food coloring, and she was very proud to be able to handle it on her own and to decide on colors for our cookies.
To be Jan21_FC3honest, the recipe was not “so easy” for me as advertised, especially in the folding part. Also, the paper scraps with wishes were sticking badly to the dough. Smarty, however, was very pleased with the results and gobbled up a few fortune cookies right away. She got, Water Your Mind. Read in one and Pick your favorite food and eat it as soon as possible in another, which, of course, prompted her to ask for chocolate.
Jan21_FC4And here is the end result – not picture perfect, but tastier than restaurant variety and good enough to share with friends yesterday during a play date. We will finish the rest off today with our Chinese New Year dinner.
Are you celebrating Chinese New Year?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week In Review–January 22, 2012


Jan16_OutsideSchool. There was a big excitement in school on Tuesday when Anna’s most wiggly classmate stumbled on the way to the music class, fell down and cut his head so badly that he had to go to the hospital and get stitches. Luckily, he could go back to school the very next day. It was a good opportunity to talk about safety – it could have just as easily been Anna who still gets bruises and scrapes practically every day.

Jan16_Tangram2Afterschool time was busy but not particularly blog worthy (OK, yesterday was blog worthy, but I will keep it for later in the week). I am parenting single since Wednesday since my husband is visiting his family in Germany, and I managed to get daughter to the library and Russian lesson on one day and to her gymnastics class on another. Every evening we cooked together and read, and then it was time for bed.

Work has been crazy since I had to juggle getting Anna to school, leaving early and handling all work obligations in between and in late evenings. This change in schedule really made me appreciate what my husband does for our family!


Places we are going. We have a tradition of going in January to Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge. This time the weather didn’t exactly cooperate – a bitter cold wind was blowing, so the hike along the salt marshes of San Francisco Bay was not as enjoyable as usual. Still, we’ve seen a lot of birds – pipers, herons, various ducks and even vultures and enjoyed looking at the first California poppies of the season.

  • Jan15_DER1Quote of the week.
  • During a big showdown over a lost souvenir from SF zoo that was oh-so important to get when we were there: Mama, I don’t know where it is. I know I put it on this shelf. Goblins must have stolen it! (The object was recovered later in completely different locations – goblins must have moved it).


Finally, I am delighted to host Afterschool this week. I am doing my best to visit every blog and enjoying a lot of great ideas. My favorite this week was a Faux Lava Lamp experiment at Mom to 2 Posh Lil’ Divas. We will definitely be doing this one as soon as I get out to get some Alka-Seltzer tablets. And, by the way, if you are interested in hosting Afterschool, please send an email at sunnyvale422@gmail.com.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What My Child Is Reading–January 21, 2012

We came back from our weekly library trip with an excellent haul of new books to read. We have finished reading Where the Mountain Meets the Moon together, and Anna commented that this book definitely deserves the medal (Newberry Honor) that it received. Now we are reading another Newberry Honor book – Mr Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. Anna picked up a couple more Rainbow Fairies books that she didn’t read yet and decided to branch out into The Tiara Club by Vivian French (insert the big yawn from me here, but at least I don’t have to read them to her).


I stumbled upon E-mergency! by Tom Lichtenheld in the new books section, and what a terrific find it has been. This book is entertaining on so many levels and appropriate for younger kids just learning their ABCs and for older kids who love comics. It’s been a while since Anna was rereading the same book over and over again and begging me to read it to her too – this was definitely a reading highlight of the week.Warlord Puzzle

For our Afterschool Math this week we read The Warlord’s Puzzle by Virginia Pilegard/Nicolas Debon. I enjoyed the story and the illustrations more than Anna did – she was not exactly thrilled by strong emotions of anger or fear that were conveyed by illustrations. She didn’t want to reread the story later on her own, but both of us enjoyed playing with tangrams in the end. I’d say that Three Pigs, One Wolf, Seven Magic Shapes is a more light-hearted introduction to tangrams, at least for sensitive kids.

There is nothing to do on MarsI had high expectations from the cover of There’s Nothing to Do on Mars by Chris Gall. To be honest, while I enjoyed beautiful illustrations, the story line failed to impress me or Anna. There is not even a twist to suggest that the whole plot line was cooked up in an overactive imagination of a little boy. I do admit that maybe my daughter and I are not a target audience for this story and it would be better received by superhero-obsessed boys.

100 school days

Anna’s class will be celebrating 100 Days of School in a few weeks, so I decided to check out 100 School Days by Anne and Lizzy Rockwell. It’s part of the school holidays series by the same authors, and we enjoyed all the books that are targeted at K-1 age group. We read 100 School Days before, and Anna commented this time that they didn’t do any “in between” activities for 10, 20, etc. days. Well, her class is not 10 kids like in the book but rather 25. I am not complaining, however, my own 1st grade had 44, and I turned out just fine Smile

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Week In Review–January 15, 2012

imageimageIt was exciting to see so many participants in Afterschool last week. I loved this Rapunzel doll at April’s Homemaking. Making wooden dolls is one thing that I would really like to try this year. Another great idea came from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas – she and her girls did some very colorful baking soda and vinegar experiments. I am looking forward to new ideas this week when Afterschool is hosted by What Do We Do All Day. And now on to our week.
School. It worries me a little that when I ask Anna if she learned something new in school or whether there was something that surprised her, she always says, “no”. My husband helps in the classroom once a week, and he says that “super stations” are pretty interesting with some challenge for more advanced kids. At least Anna loves school as much as ever and claims it’s interesting even if she is supposedly not learning anything new.
Afterschool. I had a big presentation at work this week and worked late 3 out of 5 days. My husband was running a tight ship though – Anna had a playdate, restarted her gymnastics classes (she finally agreed to be moved to a group for 5 year olds) and attended a very fun music program in school with a special guest. And… ta-da… she started Russian lessons with a teacher who will be coming to our house. The first lesson was a bit turbulent, but I am hoping that they will find a way to work together, and I will find will power to speak more Russian with her.
  • Quote of the week. Me: Anna, did you learn anything about Martin Luther King in school?
  • Anna: No.
  • Me: Nothing at all? How strange! Do you know who Martin Luther King was?
  • Anna: No, I don’t know who he was, but I know who killed him. His first name was Earl, and he went to prison and died there. Will you go to prison forever for wrecking someone’s car, mama? Because papa said it can happen to you, you know.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What My Child Is Reading–January 14, 2012

We are still reading through Where the Mountain Meet the Moon in the evenings, and Anna is reading through Rainbow Magic series, but she was quite disappointed this week when she only found two new fairy books in the library. We read a few other books together.

Dear Mr Blueberry

Dear Mr Blueberry by Simon James is a delightful book! It’s set as a letter exchange between a girl and her teacher during a summer break. I thought that the teacher could have at least acknowledged Emily’s imagination in his responses, but his factual approach adds humor to the story. I challenged Anna to come up with her own scenario for this book, and we might even do some writing activity to follow up, but we didn’t get around to it yet.

Good Enough to Eat

Since we are working on our “Eat Healthy Foods” resolution, we reread a non-fiction Good Enough To Eat book by Lizzy Rockwell. The book is a little outdates since it talks about the old food pyramid, but it gives a good overview of food groups and different healthy options. It also has several recipes in the back, but we haven’t tried any of them yet. I can think that all the talk about healthy eating starts bringing results, since daughter is eating her vegetables more cheerfully nowadays.

One Dark Night

One Dark Night by Lisa Wheeler and Ivan Bates was Anna’s K book this week. It was the second week in a row when she got a book she hadn’t read before, and she was pleased about it. The story is more appropriate for preschool age, and has a fun twist in the end. Anna commented that the book was misleading us about what is about to happen and contrasted it with Jan Brett’s books where she gives clues about what is going to happen next in her illustrations.


Finally, I brought over Martin Luther King Jr. Day by Linda Lowery from the library to tell Anna a little about the holiday next Monday. I learned a lot from this book, but mostly it’s because I didn’t go to school in the States. The book is marked for grade 2, and I would think that for once this is low, since it’s hard to truly appreciate what MLK did without understanding more about history. The book is also pretty long, so I would say it’s better for 7+ kids.

Follow me