Friday, October 30, 2009

Stop Acting Rich

I have a hankering to order Thomas Stanley's Stop Acting Rich: ...And Start Living Like A Real Millionaire as a morale boost (Stanley is the Millionaire Next Door guy). However, it would probably not make much sense to buy this book in hardcover for $18.

A pumpkin for Prudence

The kids and I were just working on this virtual Jack O'Lantern. Have fun!

D on snails

D (to C): I hate snails. They have slimy bottoms, right?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tea for tots

How bad is it to give a 4-year-old decaf Earl Grey?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bookmark

C made a bookmark at CCD tonight and decorated it with hearts. It says "C loves D".

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

2nd grade Spanish

This is the end of the first grading period, and C just brought home a packet of her Spanish homework. The Spanish teacher's note says "There is not a grade on any paper intentionally" and "It is my intention that the children enjoy the process of learning Spanish and that I interfere at this stage of their learning only slightly more than a parent of a child who is beginning to speak English." Hmmmm. Here is a sample of C's work (the picture shows an unhappy mummy surrounded by 10 green pizzas):

King tut esta mal. Come diez pizzas verdas. King Tut esta muy mal. Esta loco.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sick Monday

I had a reasonably successful Monday at home with both children. They were feverish yesterday. I kept them home today to observe the 24-hour-after-fever wait that now seems to be standard with schools. It had been raining much of the night and morning. In the early afternoon I walked and the kids biked (in their yellow rain coats and rain pants) across campus to Starbucks. The parking lots present some difficulties, but the kids are getting to be very good about taking verbal directions. The fact that they can bike to Starbucks is a great discovery and an excellent compromise between walking (my choice) and taking the car (the kids' choice).

In the mid-afternoon, I got to the end of my crafty evasions and finally had to do crafts with the kids. I stenciled paper outfits with C. Later, D wanted to make a felt bead bracelet. He chose the materials and rolled a jelly roll bead and I strung them all on thread for him. Then C wanted to make a felt bead necklace. I set up the gold thread for her and tied the knots, but she did everything else.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Under $70k

I'm still watching that historic neighborhood near downtown. There have been gradual price drops, mostly $5k or $10k, as well as a number of recent listings under $100k. The latest is that an unremodeled 2BR/1BA 1940s brick cottage on the edge of the neighborhood is now being offered for just under $70k. This is definitely the lowest price I've seen in or on the outskirts of the neighborhood. I don't think we'd want to live so far from campus, but this sort of development makes it seem more realistic to think that we will be able to buy a nice house near campus for under $150k by spring 2011.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Big Friday

While the kids were at school today, I did 5 miles on the treadmill while listening to the beginning of The Two Towers. LOTR is very appropriate as a treadmill book because so much of it takes place on foot.

Knowing that the afternoon and evening were going to be challenging (an afterschool board game club and then a carnival at the college), I took a prudent afternoon nap. Upon awakening, I discovered an email telling me that another dozen or so kids had signed up for the board game. We, meanwhile, had only 5 chess sets. The school-wide email had encouraged participants to bring their sets, but it was impossible to predict how many would. Suspense! My husband (a former chess club president) came home around 3 and started printing up chess boards and pieces so that in a pinch, we could have kids use paper sets. Time ticked away. I did not review the rules, but as it turned out, that was OK.

We arrived at school loaded with chess sets (and one checkers set)just as the kids were being let out. We collected our own two kids and waited for the lunch room to empty. A Lord of the Flies scene ensued . There were still 15 minutes left until the start of the games club. Eventually, I slipped out and checked the school game closet for more sets. None! Meanwhile, things had settled down and the kids had started playing by themselves. The kids had brought about half a dozen chess sets, some of them quite large. Around 3:45 (our official start time), the elementary principal introduced us, an older boy (a veteran chess club member), and three older girls who eventually slipped away as it got more peaceful. I checked off names from the list. There were over two dozen elementary kids, about four of them girls. My husband invited the beginners to come up for a quick tutorial. Meanwhile, the non-beginners played and played and played. (C eventually wandered off to look at some books, although she later played checkers with D.) I circulated, clarified rules, and located partners, but I was very pleased how quickly spontaneous order appeared (some kids playing, some kids watching the players and discussing the course of play), and what a very social activity it turned out to be. Eventually, parents and grandparents started appearing. I greeted parents, made sure that the adults and kids seemed to know each other, tidied the lunchroom, carried a small load of lost-and-found items to the office, recorded 1.5 hours of volunteering for me and 2 for my husband in the volunteer book and we all got out just after 5. The administration is very excited about this new club and they had sent out a barrage of emails to parents. The school is also new, so there aren't a lot of school-sponsored activities. Also, there seems to be a larger than average number of chess fiends in the elementary student body.

Here are my thoughts about next month:
  • We need name tags. I knew the names of at best 1/3 of the kids. Mostly, it was just a sea of blond and brown-haired little boys.
  • Start immediately. There's no need to wait.
  • My husband wants to teach the kids how to play the Chinese game "Jungle". We need to look into finding inexpensive sets, or (in a pinch) printing out copies. We'll need to think hard about visuals. My feeling is that chess is the big draw, so we probably should ask kids to bring sets again.
After dinner, we went to a big college open-air carnival. It was great fun (although I'm never going on a ferris wheel again), we spent some time with a family from school and we kept bumping into other families we knew. D and I went home around 8:30 PM. My husband and C stayed until 10ish to watch the lighting of a house-sized bonfire and some spectacular fireworks.

Tomorrow, there are going to be an early morning parade, two birthday parties, and assorted household chores. I'm not totally sure that we're going to make it to the parade, but I have pledged my sacred honor to get C to the two birthday parties. Most wonderfully, both are no-gift parties (although well-wishers are invited to donate to 1) Heifer International or 2) a missionary family in North Africa).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lawn mowing

C is very interested in the idea of getting $10 to mow the lawn when she's bigger.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Different Minds Chapter 6

Wendy over at Outside Providence has done chapters 3, 4 and 5 of Deirdre Lovecky's Different Minds, so I'm skipping forward to Chapter 6, "Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Giftedness". As usual, quotes are in bold or in quotes.

  • Mayer and Salovey (1997) defined emotional intelligence as several different abilities. These include the ability to accurately perceive, evaluate, and express emotion, to access and/or generate feelings, and use them in social interactions, and to regulate emotions to encourage emotional and intellectual growth.
  • Emotional intelligence does not depend on IQ. However, people who are below average in intelligence will still have difficulty with the thinking part of emotional competency. Analyzing emotions will be difficult for them, and they will have trouble with accurate empathy because empathy in adulthood requires reasoning ability. On the other hand, some with exceptionally high IQs will be low in emotional intelligence.
  • ...those who are especially emotionally competent may have higher verbal reasoning ability, and verbal intelligence may be a necessary, but not sufficient requirement for higher emotional intelligence.

More later.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Different Minds Chapter 2 (part 2)

I'm back to blogging Chapter 2 of Deirdre Lovecky's Different Minds. Here we go!

  • AD/HD has a social dimension. Boys with AD/HD "misread their own social mistakes, thinking they are successful when they are not". "Phillip never thought that he was disruptive or intruding on other children's games. He thought they were just being mean to him..."
  • The behavior of children with AD/HD can vary greatly, depending on their physical state, the level of stimulation or interest, and adult savvy in keeping them motivated and supervised. Time for bold: Many children do best one on one with adults and peers, and least well in a large group.
  • When people think of AD/HD, they think of boys. Partly, this is because much of the focus on AD/HD has been on the hyperactive/impulsive component, which is more prevalent in boys, and less on the inattentive component, which is more prevalent in girls.
  • ...compared to boys with AD/HD, girls had lower ratings on hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity, and externalizing behaviors. Girls had more intellectual impairments on Full Scale and Verbal IQ in intelligence tests than boys but were equivalent on measures of achievement and neuropsychological functioning.
  • Girls who have symptoms which would place them in the AD/HD Inattentive Type show many internalizing behaviors. They are daydreamy, slow to start work, slow to accomplish work, and anxious about the result of their work.
  • These girls manage their AD/HD symptoms by being hyperfocused and working extremely hard. They are driven, anxious, and have little energy to do things other than school work.
  • Jumping down a bit, "Denckla (1996) has suggested that growing up is essentially the development of competence in executive function."
  • AD/HD can be viewed as an underlying deficit in executive functions: that is, these are the higher-level cognitive skills that allow us to learn how to learn. They help us figure out what we are going to do, how we are going to do it, and then help us to do it...These skills of organizing, planning, problem solving, mental flexibility, connection, prioritizing, integration, strategizing, focusing, monitoring, and modifying all help us with the assimilation, memory and recall, and output of tasks.
  • Gifted children with AD/HD are particularly likely to have difficulty with the complexity of executive functions as they get older. As they get into higher-level work, the pressure on executive systems increases. It doesn't help, though, to give these students easier work. In fact, it makes things worse. What they need is work tailored to their needs: short, stimulating tasks that call for more higher-level reasoning skills and creativity than for step-by-step learning.
  • Lovecky writes that some people believe that AD/HD is overdiagnosed among gifted children and that even the DSM-IV suggests the need to distinguish between AD/HD and boredom in an "academically unstimulating environment". Lovecky counters with the suggestion that "AD/HD may be underdiagnosed in gifted children, especially with younger children" who operate in less restrictive environments.
  • Lovecky believes that high intelligence can compensate for and camouflage AD/HD. However, as school becomes more and more demanding as the years go by, the child will eventually hit a wall.
  • In earlier years, a stimulating school environment, coupled with small classes, will significantly decrease symptoms of AD/HD in many gifted children with mild AD/HD...
  • Gifted boys with AD/HD have a hard row to hoe. "Moon et al. reported that the gifted boys with AD/HD in their study were less mature than either other gifted boys or average boys with AD/HD of their age. They showed poor regulation of emotion and were easily frustrated. They tended to overrespond to situations. They described themselves in extremes: with exceedingly positive or exceedingly negative characteristics. Socially, they were impulsive, and made inappropriate physical contact with other children. They engaged in irresponsible, irritating and annoying social behaviors."
  • Kalbfleisch...suggested that gifted boys with AD/HD are more prone to hyperfocusing, especially on material of interest. As a result, they have a difficult time shifting attention from task to task.
  • On standardized tests, gifted children with AD/HD may show greater variability with some scores quite high, at 95% or more, while other scores can be average or below. Sometimes, these students surprise teachers with their exceptionally high standardized test scores because class work seems so average.
  • The class work of the gifted child with AD/HD is more variable than that of average children with AD/HD.
  • Both gifted children and average children with AD/HD do better in subjects they find interesting.
  • Gifted children with AD/HD have much more difficulty than other gifted children completing assignments...They rush through their work, do less written work on the whole, and have more behavior problems...They often want to do things their own way, will not correct errors when asked to do so, and argue about how much they have to do. Usually they are satisfied to do the fastest, least accurate job possible in any subject area, except for work that is novel, highly stimulating, or their own choice.
  • Disorganization is a particular problem for gifted children with AD/HD Inattentive Type. Because they are so bright it is much more disconcerting when they have trouble organizing their belongings, books, materials, homework, and even their thoughts, writing, and projects.
  • Children with AD/HD may also have difficulty with empathic responding. Braaten and Rosen (2000) found that boys with AD/HD were less empathic than other boys. They also had more difficulty matching emotions of story characters with their own. These boys also showed more sadness, anger, and guilt than other boys.
  • Children with AD/HD have trouble with emotional timing: that is, they miss the subtle sequence of low-level emotion that is ongoing in an interpersonal interaction. Then they do not respond appropriately. For example, a friend is quiet and sad, but the AD/HD child does not notice and continues to talk about a movie recently seen. Conversational turn-taking is hard for some of these children because they have trouble noticing when they can talk, waiting their turn, and not monopolizing the conversation themselves. [Very interesting.]
  • For younger children, rewards need to be immediate or they are simply no seen as rewards. There is no connection between what was done in the past and the reward obtained now.
  • The bright side of AD/HD is: "high energy, creativity, intuitiveness, resourcefulness, sensitivity, tenacity, being hardworking and having a never-say-die-approach, warmheartedness, trusting attitude, forgiving attitude, ability to take risks, flexibility, good sense of humor, and loyalty."
  • Gifted children with AD/HD need to be educated with gifted peers. However, in accelerating them or giving them extra work, one needs to be sure they have the support skills to manage the task.
  • Finally, many gifted children with AD/HD do need medication...Medication alone, though, is not a total answer. Gifted children with AD/HD also need a multipronged program that works to change the academic curriculum and to teach them specific skills in areas of deficits such as basic skills, skills related to executive functions, interpersonal skills, emotional control, etc.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Multiplication, division and sewing camp

I was having a look at C's Singapore Math 2A workbook last night. It looks like they will be doing single digit multiplication and division by Christmas. It will be interesting to have a look at the 2B workbook in the spring to see how far they'll get the end of the school year.

In other news, I called the local Bernina place to ask about their summer sewing camps. They take kids as young as 7 and have them running sewing machines, first practicing on paper, then sewing a pin cushion, tote bags and a garment. They also have mother-daughter classes, which might be nice.

UPDATE (10/19/09): Catherine Johnson (of kitchentablemath.blogspot.com) has said in the past that Singapore Math is good reform math, rather than a traditional curriculum. I saw glimpses of that in their lovely preschool workbooks and I'm starting to see it again in C's 2nd grade math workbook. When I was in elementary school in the early 80s, our math was fairly traditional. I think we did addition and subtraction in 1st and 2nd grade, just adding digits as we went along. I believe we started single digit multiplication in 3rd grade. Fractions appeared in 6th grade. I'm not sure exactly when division appeared at my public school (I remember doing long division in 6th grade), but the logic behind it was to introduce the operations and multidigit problems very slowly. My dad (a math MA) was not thrilled with the system, since he thought he kept kids in arithmetic much longer than necessary.

What I'm seeing with Singapore Math is that the creators obviously think that if a child can add or subtract with two digits, there's no reason to wait until the following year to go to three. And if a child can add, there's no reason to wait to start multiplication (Singapore introduces multiplication at the end of 1st grade). As I mentioned previously, I'm very gratified by the thought that by Christmas break, C's 2nd grade class is going to be doing both single digit multiplication and division. The workbook illustrates multiplication and division with many helpful pictures (four goldfish bowls, each with two fish; four plastic bags, each with five pears; five boxes, each with six buns). Interestingly, the 2A workbook gives fewer than 10 pages of multiplication before introducing division for the first time. That's pretty gutsy, but I suppose they want children to be very clear on the relationship between multiplication and division. Near the end of the book, the kids start getting short word problems where they need to choose which operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) is appropriate. Here are some examples:

A shopkeeper sold 6 toy airplanes at $4 each. How much money did he collect?

24 soldiers lined up in 3 rows. There were an equal number of soldiers in each row. How many soldiers were there in each row?

[Picture of pumpkin on scale, with the scale showing 4kg] The pumpkin weighs __________ kg. 1 kg of pumpkin costs $3. The pumpkin costs $__________.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

C home sick

C is home sick today and D is at school. I tend to get cabin fever, so I was very happy that my husband was able to stay home with C and do paper crafts while I took a walk outside and listened to about an hour of LOTR (I'm past the halfway point of Fellowship of the Ring). Later in the morning, C purchased 20 minutes of my time and we did Klutz Paper Fashions together. The Klutz Fashion kit comes with tiny wire hangers, colored and patterned paper, stencils, glue and various items for decorating clothing. C has longed for the fashion kit for months now. I told her that when she runs out of the special paper, she can have us order origami paper. There are some very fancy Asian origami papers that will do admirably. C has finished several outfits that are now hanging in the closet that my husband made out of a cardboard box. I've suggested that she hold off since it would be nice to invite some neighbor girls over for a dress-making playdate.

After lunch, I got out her sewing kit. Months ago, she started sewing a small felt kitty with button eyes, but at some point during the summer we fizzled while working on the tail. This afternoon, I sewed and stuffed the tail and C sewed and stuffed the rest of the cat. I put some extra stitches in a few areas with large stitches where the stuffing was gaping out, but C did a lot. There are three more projects in the kit: a red felt dog, a pink felt elephant, and a notebook cover. If C manages to finish the three projects, I will order an embroidery kit for her.

All of this project time (about an hour) was purchased from me at my usual rate: 4 points per 20 minutes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Game Club

My husband and I want to run a monthly elementary board game club. Our first meeting will be in late October. I've done nearly all the preliminary work (talking to administration, choosing room, choosing time and date, looking at school's selection of rainy day board games). I've sent out an email to a few families that I know and the two second grade teachers and hopefully the school will include an announcement in the weekly email of events that goes out to all student families. I'm also trying to make contact with the afterschool program, because we'd like to open the club up to the afterschool kids. We're going to do chess for our first meeting, so one of the things left on our to-do list is to hit Walmart and pick up 4 or so cheap sets. (Chess is considered a sport in Russia and some other places, by the way.) My husband visited C's 1st grade class last year to talk about chess rules and it was a raging success. There were about 5 or 6 kids who were really into it and they asked very insightful questions. It will be interesting to see how many kids show up for our first meeting.

I've hitherto been very cautious about the world of school volunteering, because I'm afraid of getting sucked into tedious, time-eating activities that anybody else could do. We need to do 5 hours of service at school each term. I thought we did pretty well last year when my husband helped with a school star night, talked to C's class about chess, and brought in a microscope and an Eyeclops to look at various natural objects (feathers, leaves, pond water etc.). "We" means my husband, you see. Being a liberal arts type, I mostly serve as his roadie.

C loves board games, so doing a games club was an easy pick. The long term plan is to eventually do a math or a science club, perhaps in addition to the games club.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Checkers

C and D are playing checkers. I love trickle-down parenting.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday

Today has been eventful. My husband took the kids to Lowes to do a free project, he rented a carpet cleaner from the grocery, he steam cleaned our dining room and the high-traffic zone from our front door to the back door. Meanwhile, I picked up sticks, helped by the neighbor girls. Their dad wanted them to collect sticks for a marshmallow roast, and they cheerfully carted away heaps of branches and twigs. The kids and I also helped pick up sticks on their front yard. We were invited to celebrate with marshmallows tomorrow. Unfortunately, round about 4, my family all suddenly noticed that we weren't feeling well. The kids were slightly feverish and I started to notice a tickle in my throat. I dosed the kids and mentally cancelled all plans for tomorrow. Since then, the kids have been watching Shaun the Sheep (a very cute collection of shorts!) and C discovered the grade 2 Kumon Geometry & Measurement book on my Kumon workbook pile. This is the first time she's worked with it. It has a nice mix of problems and C is tearing right through it. Yay, Kumon!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Singapore Math in 2nd grade

C's class is continuing to work with the Singapore Math program. They just finished up doing addition with three three-digit numbers (346+222+325) and are now starting multi-digit subtraction.

Different Minds Chapter 2

The kids are at school, it's raining, and it's time to get back to blogging Different Minds, Deirdre Lovecky's invaluable reference book on the difficulties in dealing with the intersection between giftedness, ADHD, Asperger's and gender. I'll mainly just pull out quotes here and there, because I'd like to get on to the other books in my pile. As always, quotes from the book are either in quotation marks or in bold. Wendy at Outside Providence has been doing the heavy lifting on chapters 3 and 4. Go, Wendy!

  • Symptoms of AD/HD can change over time, and with them, the specific diagnosis. [There tends to be a shift from the Hyperactive/Impulsive variety of AD/HD to the Combined Type. As I understand it, the Combined Type has features of both the Hyperactive/Impulsive variety and the Inattentive Type.]
  • Also, it is well known that symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity decrease substantially in many boys with AD/HD as they grow through adolescence. In adulthood, it is not hyperactivity or impulsivity that is a problem but underlying deficits in attention.
  • Hartmann (1996) suggested that for some gifted children, AD/HD is not identified until 4th through 9th grade, because they are able to get by with minimum effort in primary years.
  • Research has shown that girls have somewhat different brain structure than boys, and this may mean that AD/HD does not reveal itself in girls until adolescence when girls' brains change with puberty (Ratey and Johnson 1997).
  • It looks like I'm going to be typing out the whole chapter. Sorry!
  • ...with puberty, many boys seem to decrease symptoms of hyperactivity, and their AD/HD looks less severe , while for girls with AD/HD, ability to self-monitor and self-regulate behavior and learning decreases with the onset of puberty. In addition, mood swings and irritability may become more problematic.
  • This accords with the author's clinical experience with gifted children. Many do quite well through elementary school, only to fall apart when the more complex academic demands of middle school are placed on them. For some, the crash may not occur until much later, even as late as graduate or professional school.
  • Goldstein and Goldstein (1998) reported that children with AD/HD tend to fall to a greater than expected degree at the high end of intellectual potential.
  • AD/HD appears to run in families.
  • AD/HD is very commonly associated with other psychiatric conditions.
  • Kaplan et al. (2001) took a different perspective. They evaluated children for seven disorders: AD/HD, ODD, Conduct Disorder, Developmental Cordination Disorder (delayed motor milestones, motor clumsiness, poor coordination, poor handwriting that interferes with performance), reading disability, depression, and anxiety. Only 20% of those with AD/HD had only that one disorder. Forty percent had one additional disorder; 28% had two additional disorders, and 12% had three or more additional disorders. Based on these percentages, Kaplan et al. disputed the idea of seperate disorders. They think of these conditions as one underlying condition of brain dysfunction with different manifestations.
  • Biederman et al. (1992a) suggested that the high rate of coexisting conditions with AD/HD may be the result of AD/HD being not a single entity, but a group of conditions with different etiologies, risk factors and outcomes.
  • Children with AD/HD can have trouble with certain types of attention, but not others. In fact, they can focus on some types of material very well and for long periods of time (Wender 1987). This confuses parents, and sometimes physicians, who see a child able to focus on things he or she likes to do for a long time, or who can focus well in a one-to-one situation such as a doctor's office.
  • If the activity is fresh or chosen by the child, the child can pay attention.
  • Selective attention (motivation) can be another area of difficulty.
  • Children with the Inattentive Type of AD/HD appear to have difficulty with arousing attention so they are slower to start things. They have more trouble shifting attention, and may become stuck on irrelevant parts. They may also hyperfocus when they do focus attention. Getting them to stop focusing can be as difficult as getting them to start.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Xantippe the gym bunny

Taking advantage of D's full day at pre-K, I did 5 miles and 105 minutes on the treadmill this afternoon while listening to LOTR. Strider and the four hobbits are midway between Weathertop and Rivendell right now, and I've gone to the gym six days out of the past seven.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Xantippe gets serious

Seeing as how our current rate of house downpayment savings is not (for a variety of reasons) as robust as I would like, I am taking matters in my own hands. A professor that I have walked with in the past is now in her 2nd trimester of pregnancy and I just sent her an email asking her to remember me if she needs a babysitter down the road. If I get some business, great. If I don't, great.

Monday, October 5, 2009

LOTR at the gym

Over the past 18 months or so, I've found it motivating to listen to books on tape at the gym. As I blogged back in spring 2008, I had brilliant success with the "Amazing Jane Austen Diet" which consisted of going to the gym and listening to Jane Austen novels. That was very motivating and I lost 15 pounds in the process (many of which have since reappeared, but that's not Jane Austen's fault). Unfortunately, I've listened to a number of books at the gym snce then, but it's been difficult to find books that make me eager to go trot the treadmill like a demented hamster. The combination I'm looking for is that a book must be 1) absorbing and 2) long. As of this week, I'm back on track. I've got the entire 52-hour unabridged Rob Inglis reading of Lord of the Rings on my PDA, and I think it's going to do the trick. I've listened to over 4 hours of it since October 1.

At 52 hours total, that means that 1 hour a week equals 52 weeks of listening. 2 hours a week equals 6 months of listening. 4 hours a week equals 3 months and 8 hours a week equals 1.5 months. The good news is that I'm on track to do 4-8 hours a week. The bad news is that if I do that, I'll be done with LOTR in 2-3 months. Even if I listen to the Jane Austen canon right away, I'll find myself at loose ends again by the spring. But we will cross that bridge when we get to it. In the meantime, I am very motivated. I did 4.5 miles (92 minutes) last night and I would have done more if my PDA battery hadn't run out.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Netflix

I was just freshening up our Netflix queue. Roman Polanski kept turning up: Rosemary's Baby, Knife in the Water, Revenge. The guy is ubiquitous.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Star night

C and my husband went to a small star night tonight. C learned to point the big red telescope with the help of the Daisy LED gun sight that the telescope came with. C showed members of the public the moon and Jupiter. My husband says C was hugging the telescope demonstratively.

In other news, now that D is 4.5, we are retiring our strollers. Walking is usually very unpopular with the children, but I'm discovering that they are quite eager to bike to cafeterias or Starbucks. They are pretty good at riding on the sidewalks, but we are working on safe crosswalk technique and controlling bikes on a slope.

Vladivostok

An unexpected windfall has appeared and it looks like I'm going for a short trip to the Russian Far East next summer (2010). I haven't been back in 12 years. My back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that buying a house will make us broke for the near future, so this is my last chance for a big trip before homeownership closes in on us the following summer (2011).