Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Vacation Entry 2

  • Daughter woke up at the crack of dawn, complained that it was too bright, and told me to turn off the sun.
  • PBS Kids/Breakfast
  • Mommy took a shower/Daughter danced to Tower of Power with Daddy in the living room.
  • Got ready to go to home(pre)school group at friend's house
  • Home(pre)school group class about phases of the moon. Helped daughter make Phases of the Moon poster. Kids ate crescent rolls and cut-out star-shapes from cheese slices. Mommy ate Daughter's cheese star.
  • Car ride home; Daughter cried because I ate her cheese star.
  • Mommy found our star cookie cutter and got daughter another piece of cheese. Can we please stop talking about cheese?
  • Lunch.
  • It started raining.
  • Snuggled up with Daughter and Random House Book of Poetry for Children.
  • Napped. Such luxury.
  • Finished "Teach Your Child to Read" Lesson 86 - "The Dog That Dug, Part 2." Story is about a dog who digs a hole and finds gold coins. Daughter thinks all gold coins are filled with chocolate.
  • Daughter made a tiara with Daddy (sequins, jewels, pompoms) while Mommy made dinner
  • Daughter watched Rock N Learn "Human Body" DVD. Her new favorite word is esophagus. She loves the Alimentary Canal video. The main character rides in a little boat, like an amusement park log ride, through the body and into the potty./Mommy and Daddy ate dinner.
  • Daughter asked for "chicken with black stuff" for dinner
  • Mommy cooked Daughter chicken with black stuff.
  • Daddy did dishes - thank you Daddy - while Mommy and Daughter played My Little Pony Chutes and Ladders. Mommy was Rainbow Dash and Daughter was Princess Twilight Sparkle. Daughter won. I was relieved that happened because it was our first time playing Chutes and Ladders and I make her play by the rules. 
  • Practiced the first few measures of "Row Row Row Your Boat" on piano 
  • Built a tent

Monday, December 29, 2014

Vacation Entry 1

Usually I am at work on Mondays, but today I am on Winter Break and we had nowhere to be. A glorious combination.

  • Slept in until 8:30!
  • Watched PBS Kids/Breakfast
  • Science experiment involving citric acid, red cabbage powder, vegetable oil, etc. from science kit Christmas gift from my aunt, uncle, and cousin
  • Played Opera A to Z CD while Daughter painted some wooden cut-outs Grandma got her for Christmas
  • Mommy wiped paint off the floor, table, and child
  • Played "Aria of the Queen of the Night" three times while Daughter danced around living room in a princess dress I made her the Halloween before last (Italian Renaissance princess, not Disney princess)
  • Daughter played with pretend food, opera CD still playing, while Mommy did dishes
  • Discussed gravity
  • Daughter made herself a personal pizza with dough, sauce, cheese, and pepperonis for lunch
  • Mommy did more dishes
  • Walked to the park
  • Played at park for two hours
  • Came home and read to Daughter
  • Daughter helped chop turnip and leeks that she dug up a few days ago, using her crinkle cut chopper, for soup
  • Put frozen lasagna in oven for dinner
  • Sautéed onions, garlic, olive oil, and started steaming turnip and potato in too little water
  • Read another book to Daughter/burned turnip and potato
  • Salvaged most of the turnip and potato while Daughter watched Wild Kratts and ate strawberries
  • Combined the ingredients for my soup experiment (chicken stock, onions and garlic sautéed in olive oil with a pinch of salt, turnip, potato, chopped parsley, chopped chives, a couple of springs of thyme) and let simmer for 45 minutes. Do not do this, but this is what I did because I don't have a blender and I wasn't cooking this for anyone but me: I fished out the thyme sprigs and mashed everything with a potato masher. The texture is wrong, but the flavors are delicious.
  • Daddy got home from day gig/ate lasagna
  • Bathed Daughter/continued gravity discussion (Daughter not satisfied with explanation including matter and mass; read her the first paragraph of the Wikipedia page on gravitation which led to her asking, "What's spacetime?" Read to her the first paragraph of the Wikipedia page on spacetime which includes words and phrases like Euclidean space perspective, Minkowski space, and supergalactic and subatomic levels. "Are you satisfied with that answer?" "Yes." "Good.")

Friday, December 26, 2014

Rude Vegetables

We visited a friend's garden today and my daughter (still in her pajamas) got to dig up a turnip.

This made us all think of the book "Talia and the Rude Vegetables" by Linda Elovitz Marshall, in which a little girl named Talia misunderstands her grandmother. The grandma says "root vegetables," but Talia hears "rude vegetables." Grandma instructs Talia to dig up seven root vegetables to make vegetable stew (a Rosh Hashanah recipe including cinnamon and raisins). Talia wonders how the vegetables can be rude (talking back? being bossy?) and reflects on her own behavior and what she needs to ask forgiveness for. She digs up beautiful vegetables, as well as a few she decides must be the rude ones, like a stubborn, terrible turnip. She gives the beautiful vegetables to the rabbi for the hungry, and takes the rude vegetables to Grandma who laughs about the misunderstanding. Very sweet.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Las Posadas

My husband's family has a Christmas Eve tradition of making tamales...
...and then, while the tamales are cooking, we dress the little ones (and not so little ones) up as wise men, angels, shepherds, and Joseph and Mary, and go outside to sing Pedir Posada. The song is a back and forth between the "afuera" and "adentro" singers. Those of us who are outside sing to the inside people, asking to be let in, telling who we are (Maria y Jose). The inside people sing that they have no room (at their inn) and that we must go away. Finally, we are let inside to sing the Adoracion of the baby Jesus. After this, Santa Claus arrives (he used to come at midnight! but we've thankfully moved that time up to 7:00ish). By then, the tamales are ready and we all sit down to dinner.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Why We Do "Do" Santa

My parents did not "do" Santa with my little brother and me.

I'm fairly certain this was my mom's idea. My mom didn't want to tell us something false was true, to lie to us, thereby discrediting everything else our parents told us - as if Santa Claus was an orange at the bottom of a carefully stacked grocery-store orange display. If we discovered they had lied to us about Santa, we would question them about everything else.

We would question our parents about God.

Not believing in Santa, and not understanding that we were in the minority of children who did not believe in Santa, caused its own problem one evening. We were at some store and my brother - who was two - said he wanted to be Santa Claus when he grew up, and I - six years old - said that he couldn't be Santa because Santa didn't exist. Well, a woman nearby heard me, and her son heard me, and she scolded me and called me a liar. Merry Christmas.

Had it been my choice, we wouldn't have "done" Santa. I would have done it my mother's way, explaining to my daughter that Santa was make-believe, like Mickey Mouse... except I don't think that would have worked at this age because I'm fairly certain she believes Mickey Mouse is real. Because of my own experience, I would have told her not to go around telling other children that Santa is make-believe... except then I would have been encouraging her to lie by omission, right?

We don't "do" Santa in an elaborate way. We don't have an Elf on the Shelf or leave him cookies. We do say that Santa brings presents. He doesn't bring all of the presents. I don't expect her belief in Santa to last any longer than her belief that Mickey Mouse really lives at Disneyland, and I'm not worried about what she'll think of me when she finds out Mickey is a person in a costume.
My Armenian grandmother, a woman who made Christ the center of her life, raised her three children "doing" Santa, and all three of them are Christians with Christian children. In the boxes of photos and documents, the artifacts of my grandmother's life, we found a letter she had typed to her children one Christmas, pretending to be Santa Claus. In it, she wrote about being good and telling them where "he" had hidden their presents.

I think about my grandmother secretly typing that letter as part of a game of make believe, and I think about her saving it for more than forty years. I wonder if she ever, while going through old photographs, took it out and read it to herself. I'm sure she did. I imagine her smiling, remembering how excited my dad and uncle and aunt were that Christmas morning. And I think about my dad and uncle and aunt and me standing around her kitchen table, after her death, sorting through pictures and passports and letters, and finding the envelope on which she had lovingly typed From Santa Clause.

Field Trip: The Nutcracker

This morning, we went to see Westside Ballet's The Nutcracker at The Broad Stage. We had front row seats. Before the show, my daughter picked out a nutcracker ornament to hang on our tree. She chose a green one - her favorite color - playing a drum (Daddy is a drummer). We've been preparing for this experience for a month by listening to the CD (and dancing around the living room), watching the film version starring Macaulay Culkin as Drosselmeyer's nephew/nutcracker/prince, and reading (and re-reading) the Bearenstain Bears Nutcracker book. It was so fun to hear her gasp and whisper things like, "Ooh, Drosselmeyer!" and "The Mouse King!" when she saw them come onstage for the first time.

Field Trip: Planetarium

This month, our home(pre)school group's theme is Space, so earlier this week, my husband and I took our daughter to the planetarium at Santa Monica College.  Jim, the man giving the presentation, was wonderful - totally unfazed by a group of preschoolers walking around the room being preschoolers. My daughter's favorite part was the mobius-strip space roller coaster.

I, Said The Donkey...

Sunday, my daughter sang in the church Christmas pageant. Here she is at rehearsal in her shaggy brown donkey costume. All the other little girls wanted to be lambs and cows, but not my friendly beast.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


My daughter has been using the word "objecles" the past week. She's been using it in place of "objects." I love it. I'm not correcting her. It's so very Lewis Carroll.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bread and Water

Last night, my 3 1/2 year old asked for bread and water, so she could be like Hansel and Gretel. The bread had to be on a little plate, and the little plate had to be on "a pan shaped like a rectangle" (a cookie sheet), and the pan had to be on her little table. She was very specific. Very my child.

This copy of Hansel and Gretel is bilingual English & Spanish, so it was "solo con agua y pan."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

This Week

This week:

1)We brought in the Christmas tree. Ours is potted and sits out on our patio January through November. When we bought it at the 99 Cent Store three years ago, it was tiny. Not anymore. My 3 1/2 year old decorated it (and by "decorated" I mean told me where to hang them) with the Jesse Tree ornaments she's been coloring. We're a couple of days behind because coloring inside the lines is something she's just learning to do, so she isn't in love with the activity yet.

2)She's made her own pizzas three nights this week.

3)She had rehearsal for the church Christmas pageant. She is a "Friendly Beast." (I'm not sure what kind yet.) The pageant is Sunday evening and the preschoolers are singing Jesus What a Wonderful Child and Friendly Beasts.

4)She completed Lesson 81 in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

5)Tuesday, her home preschool co-op learned about Earth orbiting the sun, and the moon orbiting Earth. The children orbited one little boy holding a balance ball, and had dizzy fun trying to rotate while doing so. Then, they made a model of Earth orbiting the sun and the moon orbiting Earth using brads and construction paper.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Little Pizza Chef

My daughter has eaten pizza three nights in a row. This is because she saw a cartoon in which the characters made pizza, asked if we could make pizza, and I said yes. We used garlic pizza dough, pizza sauce, pizza cheese, and pepperoni from Trader Joe's. Four ingredients. Bake at 475 for 8 minutes. There is enough dough for 4 saucer-size personal pizzas. I have a feeling she will be making pizza tonight, too.

Cheese pizza

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Teach Your Preschooler to Write Computer Code

This is my daughter (age 3/12) learning to write computer code. Let me preface this by saying I know almost nothing about coding. I, myself, have only been learning it for a couple of days.

Next week, the public school where I teach is participating in The Hour of Code, which encourages teachers to teach students how to write computer code for one hour. Because my school has an iPad lab, I was able to take my students into it twice last week to "play" Code With Anna and Elsa (from Frozen). There are 20 "puzzles" in which the "player" uses Blockly (a programming language) to write code for Anna and Elsa to ice skate. It's so so fun. Just try it. You'll see.

So, on Day 2, because I had completed Code With Anna and Elsa, I tried my hand (or hands) at Plants Versus Zombies (who comes up with this stuff?), and I saw that the website had a tutorial for pre-readers. That evening, I came home and started teaching my daughter how to drag and click Blockly blocks.

She wrote 48 lines of code before dinner.

December's Verse

Each month, I have my daughter (age 3 1/2) memorize a new Bible verse. (We've been doing this since January, so we are now on Month 12.) For now, we do one a month, and all I do is read it to her once daily. After hearing it repeated several times (the number of times depends on the length and complexity of the vocabulary and syntax), she's able to recite it herself. This month's verse is the first verse on our Advent Calendar - Isaiah 9:1. She had this one down in three days. It's short, and I think it helps that she's able to decode words now and knows several sight words so she can read along.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Advent Days 1 and 2

Advent Day 2: God made Adam & Eve.

Advent Day 1: God made the world.

These are the ornaments my 3 1/2 year old colored yesterday and today. Yesterday we read the story of Creation, and today we read Adam and Eve.

(While trying to color inside the lines, my daughter sighed, "Oh dear, this is hopeless.")