Friday, January 30, 2015

I think the singer had the munchies...

So most evenings, after supper and before the bedtime routine, we either read, play games or have a dance party. Last night was unanimously voted as dance party. I found this station that played music that "appeals to children". I scrolled through the list of songs and didn't see anything too treacly so I put it on. The first song was one I knew but with a slightly different twist...it was sung by chipmunks (yes, yes it was).
Dance party 1 from Lisa on Vimeo.

Every now and then Lucy will do some dance move that totally reminds me of Elaine on Seinfeld. I love watching her in the background when she thinks I'm only focused on Kate who is talking to me about what she did in school.

The next song that came on was just...odd. The lyrics made me think the songwriter was smoking pot at the time..."5 different kinds of nachos!"
Dance party 2 from Lisa on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Archaeology (and jealousy)

In case you were wondering what all the banging was while Lucy was reading to me (in yesterday's post) , it was Kate the archaeologist. Lina gave both girls gift certificates for their birthdays and Kate chose this to spend her money on.
It is a plaster form with fake gems hidden inside.

*Lucy had a rather challenging weekend with following house rules and thus lost the privilege of a shopping trip until next weekend.

It took Kate two afternoons to methodically chisel her way through the block (which is why Lucy's outfit is different in the video below).
Archeologists from Lisa on Vimeo.

We had to get creative with safety goggles!

The video doesn't show it but Kate did let Lucy have several go's at chiseling but once she found the crystals, she wanted to get them out herself. Lucy's new thing is to hover (well, to be fair, she has always hovered when someone has something that she doesn't) and say, "I wish I could do that" punctuated with heavy sighs.

We are finally in that stage in their virtual twin-ness that they pick very different things. Lucy said repeatedly that she didn't want to spend her gift card on the same thing, she has her heart set on yet another stuffed toy (god help me but I fear I may find her buried alive under all her stuffed animals one day). But that didn't stop her from wanting to do Kate's project.

"I wish I could do Kate's toy and still get something for me. This is making me jealous."

It's a sad day in a child's life when they realize they can't have their ice cream and eat everyone else's too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Guess who's starting to read?

Lucy came home this week with her first completed workbook (learning consonants) and a first reader book. She was so proud! I can tell that learning her letters and sounds is a much harder task for her as her book was nearly falling apart.

Len had to work late last night and wouldn't make it home in time for reading so Lucy asked me to tape her reading her first book so he could see it.
Lucy reading from Lisa on Vimeo.

So proud of her! She's working really hard and is so happy with herself.

Monday, January 26, 2015


I want to know who all these people are that claim family suppertime is a time to bond and make beautiful memories. Perhaps they aren't dining with two 5 year olds who are ass-tired? Maybe lots of alcohol is involved? I don't know but no amount of wine at supper has rendered our 6pm sojourn at the family table palatable.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The past two weeks

Now that the holidays are gone and life has returned to some semblance of normalcy, things are much calmer. We've gotten back into our routines and, I, for one, am enjoying being around the girls much more now that the frenzy is over! So what have we been up to?

Gymnastics every Saturday morning.

We renewed our membership to the Children's Museum so we are taking full advantage of that. Last weekend's adventure was sculpting with clay.

They were offering a free, hour-long collage class so we tried our hand at making some take-home art as well as putting a few pieces on a 15' long boat that the museum will display.

Sara went back to Sweden but before she left we met for one last mama's brunch until she returns in Summer 2016.
The girls still fondly remember their cooking classes at the Kid's Table so I signed them up for a 2 hour drop-off class on MLK day. They made mac and cheese (without kale, much to Kate's dismay--and the teacher's since Kate made it clear that kale would have improved the dish significantly) and peach cobbler.

I signed up for a classroom observation of the first-third grade Montessori class at the girls' school to see how the elementary program differs from the primary level. I have to say I was impressed. There are two teachers in the class, one who teaches only in Chinese and one who teaches in English. The English speaking teacher will introduce new subjects to children and once she is convinced they have a firm handle on the subject matter, they will again learn it in Chinese. While I was observing, there was a group of kids learning subject vs predicate, another group learning verbs vs nouns, several kids working independently on math and a group of third graders speaking and writing full sentences in Chinese characters. It was really quite amazing to watch for the hour I was there, how much they were learning.

I stayed for the rest of the day to volunteer to help with coloring some charts. It was quite nice to sit in the library and color for the afternoon!

Later in the afternoon, the Elementary Chinese teacher brought in groups of children to the library to take a spelling test. Seems they get homework to study and on Fridays there is always a spelling test. They must write the words (spoken to them only in Mandarin) in Chinese characters, pinyin (with the correct tone noted) and in English. Once she has checked their papers (which she does as soon as they are done) they must use a word or two in a sentence, verbally, in Chinese, so she knows they understand the word and how to use it correctly. It was great to be able to see more of what goes on at the elementary level since we are pretty committed to staying there.

Later that evening, it was parent's night at the school. We got to see some of their favorite works and at the end they did a circle time dance and some songs. Since it wasn't until 6pm (and they are usually in the tub at 6pm and in bed no later than 7pm) Lucy was a hot mess by this point. She was in that manic, I'm-so-tired-and-overstimulated-and-possibly-hungry-even-though-we-just-had-supper-and-I-am-going-to-lose-my-shit-if-this-lasts-much-longer state.
I really am not a fan of evening activities for the pre-school set. I know they schedule them so working parents can participate but it still totally sucks.

So that's our January thus far. We are still waiting for snow as we have yet to go sledding this year. The little snow we've had is already gone for the most part, with bits of it clinging in the shady areas only. I should be careful what I wish for...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Flute lessons

For the past 6 months or so, Kate has mentioned nearly 3-4 times per week that she really wants flute lessons. I'm still not sure where she came up with the flute as her instrument of choice but she settled on that and would not be deterred. No matter that flute lessons are not the typical after-school fare offered in most music classes (her school offers violin and piano, natch).

So I did a little on-line searching and asked if she was even old enough to try the flute. Does she know her letters and can she read? Yes. Can she count? Yes. Is she motivated, i.e. will she practice? Uh, yes. Are her fingers/arms long enough to hold a flute? No.

But it turns out that they make flutes for just this problem--it's called a curved head instrument.
They are hard to find but the flute instructor from the New Music School called around and found one that I could RENT! So happy to rent as, you know, 5 year old, very expensive instrument, short attention span. It could have turned into a costly experiment. So this has two heads and for now, Kate will use the curved head as it shortens the space between her mouth and the fingerpads.

We were also lucky in that, although Steve (the flute teacher) works downtown at the music school, he lives nearby so he hopped on the El and came over today to do a trial 30 minute lesson to see if she is indeed ready for lessons.
Flute from Lisa on Vimeo.

Although I didn't capture her first strong note on tape, she did manage to get a couple of strong clear notes out of the headpiece. He will also be teaching her to read music so he started that today as well with an introduction to quarter and half notes, the treble clef or G clef, measures and staff.
Flute lessons from Lisa on Vimeo.

Her eyes lit up and she was beaming when he played a short opera piece for her on his flute and then the lesson was done.  She was sold. She promised to practice her homework three times this week so for now, it looks like Saturday afternoons will be devoted to the flute!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Kate's birthday in pictures

My friend Josephine was kind enough to photograph Kate's birthday as she did for Lucy's. I think she got some really lovely shots! We celebrated Kate's birthday with a party on Sunday. The theme was candy and I hired a local kid's science-themed outfit, Mad Scientist, to do some experiments and then make cotton candy (since that in itself is a science/chemical reaction). It was a success judging by the smiles and laughter.
Tirzah and Stephanie
Sara and Christy
Candy-themed decorations.
Winter cranberry cocktail for the grownups!
 The mad scientist's table.
Checking out the guests as they arrive.
Lucy's new thing is to pretend to be a horse so Kate is constantly riding her around the house.
Lina's brother, Leo.

Fernando and Joy

Let the experiments begin!

Camilla is focused.
 How to get the egg into the beaker?
With a match!

Lucy D.
This looks like a laying-on-of-hands, camp meetin' style!

Scarlett is amused

The amazing powers of suction. First to try to pull it apart, Kate and Lucy.
Then Ben and Lelio.

Then Lina and Malakai.
Finally, Kate tries again with Angi--the scientist.

Pop! Angi released the air and Kate went flying!

Showing how heat and air pressure can cause a cap to fly down the hall.

The final activity was to make a Super Ball. You add crystals and water to a mold and in a short while you have a pretty bouncy ball on your hands.

This is Andrew (on the far right) who, Kate informs me, she is going to marry. He apparently has already asked her and she has agreed. Hanson is in the middle serving as a chaperone.

Next up was cake! After being sung to in both Chinese and English, the birthday girl made a wish and blew out her 5 candles.

Finally--she got her mouth on that giant lollipop! She had been waiting for that ALL DAY.
 Next up was the candy bar. Grab a bag and fill it up!

Don't forget a toothbrush!

In case there wasn't enough sugar, cotton candy was the final treat of the day.
Earlier in the day, Len and I had given Kate a jade necklace of a tiger--the Chinese symbol for the year of her birth. We got that when we were in China--one for each of the girls on their birthdays. You can just see her necklace in this photo.

Life is sweet!

Sharing her lollipop with Daddy. I'm frankly not sure how many people licked that--she was holding it up to anybody who would stop long enough.

After most everyone had gone, we found ourselves with just our old playgroup left. The kids fell back together as if no time had passed, giving the grownups some time to visit and finish off the cocktails for another hour.

I'm so glad they stayed as this is the last time we'll see Lina on this trip.
Ben signing Kate's poster.

 Not sure why Fernando was being mobbed....
Just me and my candy necklace and little pensive introspection.
The three L's.
Ava and her mama, Alison. Love this photo of them.
Most of the old group!
Josephine, in a rare moment from behind the camera, Christy, Sara, Alison and me.
After a bit of cleanup and some solid food, we opened gifts. Lucy insisted that Kate open the gift from her first.

It was a fishing game they can both play. Lucy remembered this game from Ben's house (which has been at least 1 1/2 years ago....) and wanted to get it.
Since Kate is very into money (both foreign and domestic) you will see a theme to some of her gifts. Swedish coins from Lina and Leo.
Bills from the Philippines from Ben. She was in awe over getting some actual bills in a very nice money pouch.
Shark's teeth from Nana's special collection (the white tooth fell onto her lap).
 A  Dr. Seuss book of Me, Myself and I from Meme and Papa.
Collectible coins that were printed on her birthday in 2010 from the US Mint--a gift from YiaYia and Pappou.
An apothecary cabinet from Mama and Daddy to keep her treasures safe.

Surrounded by her loot. Lucy is dying, DYING, to get her hands on something, ANYTHING! They finally settled into a game of Simon.
Later, as Kate was sorting through her pile, she decided that since she had received two Palace Pets, she would give one to Lucy. She even let Lucy pick the one she wanted (the red one). Those are the moments when I think, "Ok, all is not lost. They are turning into polite, caring, generous little people after all!"
So now we are free of stressful, upcoming holidays for a while. I have made it clear that no gifts are exchanged for Valentine's day, that it is more about sharing your love for others by being kind, doing small things for friends/family (like making cards or sharing toys) in the hopes of staving off the frenzy we've had in the past few months.  We've been practicing our gratitude by writing thank you notes for all of her presents. She writes a couple per day so if you are waiting for a card, you should have one in your mailbox by early next week!


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