24 April 2011

Yes, she gets it

Most of the time when I mention that the Sita is reading the Little House on the Prairie books or now the Chronicles of Narnia, the first question they ask is, "Yes, but is she understanding it?"

Now, she probably isn't understanding all the symbolic or allegorical aspects of the Chronicles of Narnia, but is she understanding the basic stories?  Yes, definitely!  Since she is almost always making up some story out loud, it is easy to listen to her stories to see what she's been reading lately because she pulls from those to make up her own.  For a while, she named one of her dolls Charlotte and they had a lot of fever and ague and eating of cornmeal mush.  Now she's into talking animals and alternate realities although we've also had a lot of Fairies (the Rainbow Fairy books), Dragons (How to Train Your Dragon), and Owls (the Legend of Ga'Hoole).  =)

As another proof of her reading comprehension, the Dude has been taking pretests in prep for the STAR testing next week and bringing them home to show how well he's doing on them.  There are a lot of stories on them for the reading comprehension bits and I saw Sita reading one of them this morning.  So I asked her all the questions that were connected with that story and she verbally answered them correctly and only needed the "multiple choice" options to guess it right a couple of times.  Once she realized she got all of them right, she wanted to try the rest of the practice tests.  And she totally passed.  Only on one story did she get any wrong at all.

The Dude was a little jealous of her doing as well as HE did on the tests, so we got to have a nice chat about how someone doing as well as you at something does not take away from you doing well and you don't need to feel threatened by it.  I'm sure we'll have this chat at least a few more times.  It is something I have to remind myself of every once in a while.

21 March 2011

Addicted to Movies

Yes, I am sorry to say Boo at the tender age of 2 is completely addicted to watching movies.  At first it was just Green Eggs and Ham and Cat in the Hat.  Then we discovered the Eyewitness DVDs at our local library!!!  Now she asks for "uhSHEEN" (Human Machine) "i-a-uhs"(Natural Disasters) and "orssy" (Horses).  She didn't like Skeleton as much.  Birds and Butterfly and Moth were also good ones.  And although I love Dr. Seuss and the slightly crazy songs on the DVDs, I was getting very tired of listening to them.

One thing that I am sure she will NOT be watching is "educational" shows (NOT the Eyewitness DVDs - the ones on PBS, Nickelodeon, and the Disney Channel).  After reading Nurture Shock, which I liked a LOT of (such as the sections on Praise and Self Control and Race and Sleep Deprivation) but Strongly Disagreed with some other points in it (especially the section on Education), I feel really good about not allowing "educational" programming in our home.  I will admit that I was surprised that the researchers "found that Arthur is more dangerous for children than Power Rangers" (p.181) and "The more educational media the children watched, the more relationally aggressive they were."  (p.180) The researchers theorize that this might be because the majority of children's shows are negative most of the time with just a small part (the resolution at the very end) being "positive."  To quote again:

We can imagine educational television might use an initial insult to then teach a lesson about how insults are hurtful, but that never was the case, Schiebe [one of the researchers] found.  Of the 2,628 put-downs the team identified, in only 50 instances was the insulter reprimanded or corrected - and not once in an educational show.  Fully 84% of the time, there was either only laughter or no response at all." (p.182)

That said, I think that Charlie and Lola (at least the first few seasons) is fairly good at modeling positive sibling/child relationships because Charlie and Lola have their differences, but they don't resort to calling each other names over them.

As for what I am watching, right now I am addicted to Pushing Daisies!!!!  The episodes with Wilford Woodruff and Lemuel made me laugh with special glee.  =)  Thanks, Lady Steed!

10 March 2011

the Dude loves Math

The Dude gets up at Insanely Early Hours every morning but he is expert at finding something fun to do while he's waiting for us to wake up.  (See Treasure Hunt)  Today he brought in a piece of paper that he had been expanding a fraction out on (I don't know the correct terminology here!)  - whatever the opposite of reducing fractions is.  He had started with the fraction 2/5 and had multiplied by 2 out to 4/10, and kept multiplying it by 2.  He got it Perfectly Right to 1,024/2,560 and then did a slight carrying error in the bottom.

BUT he did Perfectly Right on the top all the way until he stopped (at 65,536!)  AND he multiplied his incorrect answer correctly until the end (to 160,640).

I love how we talk about a concept (like reducing fractions) and he takes it in a slightly different direction to the Extreme.  (I like less that he chided me for doing it the Easy Way as I wrote out the multiplication to check his answer).

One thing is certain - the Dude Loves Math!


07 March 2011

Waking up to a Treasure Hunt

When I got up this morning, the Dude was already deep at work on some project.  I was warned several times to look away at certain times (which I dutifully did) and asked where my treats were because he needed some... for me.  I directed him to his father, who said Mommy could get her Own Treats.

The Dude very proudly hands me a small piece of paper that reads,

I look there (the very chair I'm sitting on now!) and find another:

This might've posed a bigger problem if I hadn't heard the front door open a couple times this morning and gotten an Evasive Answer about what was going on.

So I go around collecting my notes from their hiding places.  Some of my favorites:

Clue three: Youve done the hard one that is true, but now check under the table.
Clue four: to get to the prize, go and ask a old clumsy chair.
Clue nine: inside a thin drawer is next.
Clue eleven: next to the piano is next.

Until I get to "Clue eghteen: in dads box is the prize."

Of course the Dude is following me around and giggling delightedly every time I find a clue or Especially when I look in Not the Right Place immediately.  He is on hand to explain to me that he could not put my prize there, but that I had Certainly earned it, so I should go get it.  Since I hadn't had breakfast yet, I deferred collection of my Prize until later.

I wondered what had inspired him to this project and I found it was from his new book:

Cost of the book?
Cost of this Treasure Hunt?

06 March 2011

The Cake that wanted to Be a Disaster but I Wouldn't let it Be one

Behold the Cake
(with a slight amount of photo editing to remove incriminating names)

From the time I started gathering ingredients on Tuesday night, I had a feeling this cake might be a challenge.  I didn't have enough butter in the fridge to make it.  I had some in the freezer, but getting butter to thaw in a short amount of time without melting it is not a skill I claim to have.  So I could not make the cake that night.  I left the butter out overnight and planned for a crazy Birthday morning.

I woke up early-ish and mixed the cake before making the Birthday Scrambled Eggs.  When I went to put the cake in the oven, the rack was really close to the bottom, so I had to move it up.  It took me a couple tries before I fit it in right.  I put the cakes in, put on the timer and got back to making Birthday Eggs.  About 10 minutes from being done, Boo wants to see her cakes.  I turn on the oven light and gasp.

I had put the oven rack in slanted!  The cakes were Very Slanted!  I wanted to throw up my hands and scream AAARRRRRGGHHHH!  I think I said OHNO OHNO OhNo! and then Very Gently took the cakes out, righted the rack and put the cakes back on (while yelling for various children to Stay Back so they Wouldn't get Burned!)  The cakes ended up being Less Slanted than I had feared, but still Very Slanted.  I had no time/ingredients to do another batch.  This would have to do.

Before I knew the cakes would be slanted, I was still choosing between doing Traditional Buttercream or Swiss Meringue Buttercream for the cake.  Because of the slantedness, the Swiss Meringue won because of it's awesome sculpting power, cover-it-up-ed-ness, and not-so-sweetness (because this cake would need a LOT of frosting).

Now I had NO butter, so I had to go spend 10 dollars (!!!!) on 2 pounds of unsalted butter at Safeway (another reason to shop at Trader Joe's for basics!) on the way to picking up the Dude from school.

I whip up the egg whites and sugar over the double boiler, cool it, whip in the butter and start adding the gel color.  And add more.  And More!  It is not doing anything except being tiny little blobs of concentrated color in (still) mostly white frosting.  I go to the drip red coloring which does this funny beading up at first, but gets mixed in eventually.  I scrap the "red frosting" idea and decide Pink is Good Enough - if I use Red Sparkle Sugar to make the heart red instead.

I trim the cakes a bit so they will fit a bit better together, but the frosting does its magic and fills the gaps and I can pile it on thick to cover up the imperfections.

No one cares about the inches of frosting!  No one notices the Very Slantedness of the Actual Cake!  We all delight in getting sugar highs from its beautiful deliciousness.


Highlights from Boo turning 2!

Boo has been looking forward to her birthday since the Dude's birthday a couple months ago.  She wanted Happy Birthday sung to her at all times of day.  She practiced her blowing each time we finished the song because she knew that after the song came the blowing of the candles. At first it was the "ffffff" blow that is quite ineffectual but she gradually got the very effective "oooo" blow in good form before the Big Day.

We did not do a Big Party since she was just turning two, but happily her birthday coincided with Piano Lessons Day and so the students stayed a bit later and a couple other friends came over and we a fairly full house when the cake was ready to be blown out.  She wanted to blow the candle out as soon as the cake was finished, so I had to put the cake somewhere untouchable so that she wouldn't be tempted until it was Time.  We got her candle in her Pink Heart Cake, sang her Happy Birthday and she blew out her candle on the first attempt!  (Our first child to do that on his/her second birthday!)

We all had Cake (which was very delicious from all accounts - the frosting was especially popular - being eaten by the spoonful before the cake was served!) and then some friends had to go home, but some stayed for the Present Opening.  One of her presents got delivered to the wrong apartment, but since the family that got it sent out an email asking about a Miss {her name here} and a friend forwarded the email to us, we were able to go pick it up and get it in time.  Ah, the miracles of modern technology!  =)  She loved her new pink pajamas with hearts and her baby "purse."  As I was explaining that her package was addressed to Miss {her name here}, she emphatically said, "{her name}BOO!"  Yes folks, she thinks her name has a BOO attached to the end of it.  I love this.  You can't imagine how much.

She is very happy to be TWO now and is also loving all her beautiful new clothes and putting her baby to bed in its very own bed.

(Expect a post soon on how the cake was a near disaster, but turned out fine after all).

06 February 2011

Book Review: The Composer is Dead

The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket (with music by Nathaniel Stookey)

This is a fabulously fun book to introduce children to the orchestra.  Written with Lemony's famously wry style, it made the Spozo and I laugh out loud a couple times as we listened to it (which you really should do as it is read by Mr. Snicket himself and the music makes it much more fun).  The basic premise (as you might have surmised) is that the composer is dead and the Inspector must figure out who in the orchestra has committed this heinous crime.  The music is modern Berlioz-ish sounding for much of it, but plays with some other styles too as they introduce the different instruments.

Two of my favorite parts are:
(One, from the very beginning of the book) "'Composer' is a word which here means 'a person who sits in a room, muttering and humming and figuring out what notes the orchestra is going to play.'  This is called composing.  But last night, the Composer was not muttering.  He was not humming.  He was not moving, or even breathing.  This is called decomposing."
(Two, just a couple more pages in) "The violin section is divided into the First Violins, who have the trickier parts to play, and the Second Violins, who are more fun at parties."

The illustrations are also delightful.  I highly recommend this book!  (And thanks to Roni and Romgi for the awesome Christmas present!)

04 February 2011

Catch-Up is Impossible

But very necessary.  Roni, this post is for you!  =)

You'd think from looking at this blog that the poor Boo is still a tiny baby.  But she's not!  She's a very inquisitive almost-2-year-old.  She likes to do knock-knock jokes.  Sample:
Boo: Knock Knock!
Me: Who's there?
Boo: Orange!
Me: Orange who?
Boo: wild laughter
She is trying out sentences.  One of my favorites is "I love you!"  Most of them begin with "I want" like, "I want breakfast!" (Which sounds more like,  "I-wan feh-feshhhhhh")  Another favorite (of mine and hers) is, "Audrey push!"  (To which I usually reply, "And you pushed Audrey!")  Some more favorites:  her favorite letter is W; her favorite colors are pink and red; her favorite shape is a heart.  She loves birthday cakes and calls them "Happy!"  For her birthday, she wants a heart-shaped birthday cake that is pink and red and wants to blow out the candles.  She calls my iPhone "Babies" and can navigate to where she wants better than I can sometimes!  All things animal are still fascinating to her, but her especial love right now is for birds.  She still loves baby dolls, but now wants to feed them or change their diapers with wipes.  Lots of wipes.  Maybe because they begin with a W?  Who knows?  What we do know is that she is still adorable and smiley and sweet.

The Sita has also grown.  She wanted her hair cut short.  Now it is short.  She has so much of it that I think she is glad to not have so much of it making her hot all the time.  I do miss her beautiful locks although she looks adorable with her new do.  She has a constant little chatter of storytelling going on which can be very entertaining.  Her favorite song is I Love to See the Temple (although she did let me sing He Sent His Son instead when I put her to bed last night).  She is an awesome Big Sister most of the time and invents new things to do with Boo all the time.  Most of the time they play babies but the other day they were playing in a storage container like it was the funniest thing they had come up with yet.  The Sita still wants her "snuggles" every morning and loves to eat more berries than are good for her.  She and I have been reading the Little House series together and are now on These Happy Golden Years.  Reading ahead of where we are is one of her guilty pleasures.  We still find her distractingly beautiful.

The Dude is almost grown up!  Well, not really, but it sure seems that way.  He is still the same old Dude in many ways, but has picked up a few new interests recently.  He is into Origami spending hours folding water bombs and airplanes and flowers and swans and hearts.  The Legends of the Guardians series (books about owls and their society) have captured his imagination and he has read most of the 15 books (the ones he hasn't read are ones he didn't get for his birthday or Christmas).  His violin playing is getting better and better!  Right now he's practicing the Hunter's Chorus and having fun with the bowing.  Probably the thing he is most proud of is that he is really good at "skinnies" (apparently a very technical term regarding handball on his school playground).  He is also learning a bit of Korean because most of his friends at school are from Korea and learning English.  Second grade has really helped his writing take off and now our house is covered in all sorts of advisory notices - like this one found on his room:
(spelling, grammar and punctuation replicated as faithfully as possible)

1. warning! you Must be exactly 4 or 6 or 7 to entr the secret bed or (club) as we call it! no, that is Not our only place we use (we also use the passege way to mom and dad's room) and we will still make more.

and an excerpt from another:

you have to be able to solve this problum 900+970
(no students so far because noone has applyed) (we love highlights) our job is to read them) reffering to (we love highlights)(highlights is shortened to them)

I am so glad that these little preciouses are mine, mine, mine!