Friday, November 30, 2007

singin' in the rain

That little girl makes my heart sing. It has been raining since early morning, and I've had a ho-hum rainy day at home catching up on housework. I was just coming down the stairs after moving over the laundry when I heard her voice:

"I'm singin' in the wain, jus' singin' in the wain. I'm singin' and dancin' in the wain."

There she was out on the wet patio barefoot and dancing. I guess I've been singing that song around the house more than I realized (I saw the movie a few days ago for the hundredth time). Knowing the camera was in the car Chris took to work, I raced to get my camcorder only to see the memory stick was missing. So I just leaned against the doorpost with a grin on my face, and when she urged me to join her, who was I to argue?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

silly me

I just got a pair of socks made of bamboo that have separated toes. Eliza laughed so hard tears squeezed out. Once she could finally speak she said, "Mommy, that's silly! You have gloves on the feet!" then laughed more. I felt like the silly turkey from Blue Hat, Green Hat who kept putting clothes on the wrong body parts, but I don't care - the socks are cozy.

Monday, November 26, 2007

learning notes: November 12-25


week 1
Tu: library story time + nature walk + play date
W: dance class
Th: fire station field trip + park + IKEA
F: music class + library (again)

The photo on the right is from the short nature walk we do around the pond area each week after our library visit. I love that little wooden bridge.

Music class is on break until 2008 now. Her teacher sure deserves time off from her 20-odd weekly classes.

Dance class went unusually well. Eliza had so much fun and she was more cooperative than she's ever been. There was no class Thanksgiving week, but they'll do another 4 weeks before breaking for 2 then finishing up the final 4 weeks of the quarter in January. The new quarter starts February 1st, and I hope Eliza will be bumped up to the class for 3¼-5-year-olds (no parent participation). Frankly, I'd rather spend the 50 minutes reading than having to participate in pre-ballet, but if they think she'd benefit from another quarter of Mommy & Me, that's what we'll do.

The fire station tour was the monthly field trip for E's home-preschool group. We were about 20 minutes late because of my confusion over the parking and where to enter, so we missed the inside of the fire station because of my incompetence, unfortunately. Eliza was really looking forward to this, but after driving all that way, we only caught the last 8 minutes or so. At least she had a good time at a park afterward. I took a very short video of the fire engine with my new camera, which captures sound as well as video (unlike my stolen camera), but even though I could hear the nice man clearly, it seems my camera couldn't.

week 2
M: Birch Aquarium
Tu: Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit + Natural History Museum + Mingei International Museum
F: Bee Movie

For week 2, we had visitors to entertain. Besides the above, we also went out to eat several times (Chinese, Greek, etc.), which is one of Eliza's favorite things to do.

The big event on Tuesday morning was the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. (I forgot my camera that day, but I couldn't take photos inside the exhibit anyhow, but see Brit's October post for great Balboa Park photos.) It was a bit chaotic in there, so the six adults got separated, and my husband ended up with Eliza. Afterward, the three of us (the first out) found each other and spent a half hour in the rest of the Natural History Museum (we only had a short time, but we visit fairly often).

Our next stop was to the Mingei (folk art museum) where it was Free Tuesday. We hadn't been in almost a year, and Eliza really appreciated it this time. Her favorite room was the white computer room (with a chair sculpture that said no sitting - what torture for a little kid), but she was entranced by the fairy doll house made entirely from materials from nature. Other favorites were the rocks found twisted by nature into what coincidentally resembled various landscapes - they said "please touch" - it was such a pleasant surprise for her after so much "just look, don't touch."

On Friday, Eliza had her first-ever visit to the cinema (and my first in exactly 2 years) where we saw Bee Movie. She was such an angel and has talked about the experience frequently in the days since.

learning at home

I have no notes. When we weren't out of the house week one, I spent an absurd amount of hours cleaning the house (which apparently still wasn't good enough), so Eliza even more time than usual self-entertaining. From her point of view, the most interesting thing she did at home all week was to help me assemble DVD cases. I'm not handy in the slightest, but the one thing I can do well is assemble bookshelves and the like. Eliza picked up quite a few new words in the process. She was so proud of herself and excitedly told her father all about it when he got home.

For week two, she spent so many hours helping/observing in the real kitchen and also playing with her kitchen- and tea-themed toys. There was a lot of block and Lego play, too, and lots and lots of tickling. "Pwease tickow me!" she repeatedly begged whomever was nearby. She is one silly goose.

coming soon . . .

This week we're getting back to normal. We had to skip playgroup this morning because I'm ridiculously far behind on laundry, but we plan to do our usual trips to the library, dance class, etc. I'll close with a preview of Eliza's art exploration from this morning - "Tilting Prints" from Preschool Art - that she did with a baking pan and chiming Chinese meditation balls (I didn't have marbles):

Thursday, November 15, 2007

learning notes: November 5-11

This was a very laid-back week. I didn't take many notes or photos.

The big news is that I now have a digital camera! At the Halloween party, a friend gave Eliza a gorgeous handmade black and purple tutu as a belated birthday present and used the occasion as an excuse to buy a camera for me. My jaw was on the floor. I ordered a 2 GB memory card for the camera (in an instant, the maximum number of photos jumped from 5 to 1,500), which didn't arrive until a few days ago. So as of next week, there will be no more grainy camcorder photos.

little yogini

The following photos were from the week earlier, but I just realized I forgot to post them. Ever since her Yoga mat arrived she has been taking it out most days. She wasn't sure what it was at first, and although I'd been into Yoga for many years, I relied on Yoga Kids (a book) to identify what would be appropriate for her age.


downward dog

lion (she's growling)

She danced even more than usual - sometimes adding up to hours a day. I didn't note exactly what she listened to, although I seem to remember it was a lot of rock and pop on the radio and classical music from CDs. She also asked for and acted out Carnival of the Animals several times. I mentioned that I'm highly sensitive to sounds in general and music in particular. I have a low tolerance for children's music (though there is a lot of it in the house thanks to newborn gifts). That's why Eliza is more familiar with the Beatles than Raffi. Two children's CDs I don't mind are the humorous Philadelphia Chickens and Dog Train, although come to think of it, we haven't listened to those in a long time (foiled by clutter).


Although I gathered art supplies to be able to do any number of projects from Preschool Art, we didn't end up doing any of them. I was feeling lazy last week, so whenever Eliza asked to do art, I'd just hand her paper and crayons or markers and mini dry erase board. She usually doesn't find it quite as interesting as paint, but I was feeling rather unmotivated.


Eliza helped a substantial amount with popcorn and pita bread (on different days). She has a Learning Tower, which is a kitchen observation platform for kids (although it can double as a puppet show stage). I cook at least five dinners from scratch each week, and this way, Eliza can observe without getting in the way.

Popcorn is one of her favorite things to cook. I pull over the LT to the range, and we wait until the three test kernels have popped. Once that happens, Eliza's job is to dump the pre-measured kernels into the pan, I replace the glass lid, and we watch the magic happen. I ended up sprinkling nutritional yeast on her portion, and she thought it was delicious. "This kid can't be related to me," I thought. (I hate the taste of nutritional yeast and only use it in small quantities in recipes that call for it, like Isa's seitan. I think I'm going to lose my vegan card for admitting I greatly dislike "nooch.")

Early Monday morning we baked 100% whole wheat pita bread. Eliza is mesmerized watching dough go 'round and 'round on my mixer's dough hook. Once it had risen, Eliza helped with rolling the six portions into balls, then used the French pin to roll them out. I thought I'd have to finish the job, but she did so well and rolled them to just the right thickness that I kept them adorably lopsided as-is!

Mediterranean autumn lunch:

1. black bean and orange hummus (Eat, Drink & Be Vegan)
2. Eliza-made 100% whole wheat pita bread
3. pomegranate seeds
4. stuffed grape leaves

The grape leaves weren't homemade. I spied organic stuffed grape leaves in a tin and decided to give them a shot. Unfortunately, they use white rice, and they weren't nearly as tasty (of course) as those at Café Athena or even the time I made my own at home, so that's two strikes against them. I haven't ever been able to find plain organic grape leaves locally, so I may have to see if I can locate a jar online.

We loved the hummus though (I've now made it twice). My parsley plant finally grew big and hearty enough that it could spare a quarter cup for the hummus. Eliza gets so excited when I tell her it's time to gather herbs from the patio.


M: playgroup
R: playgroup
F: music class

We had to miss dance class on Wednesday, and I wasn't feeling well Friday, so Chris took Eliza to music class before work. We spent more time indoors than usual last week, which didn't do Eliza's mood any favors - she was happy while dancing or at playgroup, but she also threw way too many all-out screaming fits. I didn't have the best time coping with her tantrums and my falling even more behind on housework, and I didn't get to read as much as I'd like, which tends to make me grumpy.

This current week has been happier for Eliza, but now I'm under a lot of stress preparing for the holiday and more than a week of house guests. I'll do what I can and try not to worry about the rest.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

7 weird things

Sara tagged me for 7 weird things. Someone tagged me for 8 things I like about myself awhile ago, and I tried to write that post, but there literally aren't 8 things I like about myself. Weird I can do.

1- Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

7 random or weird things:
1. I have this bulge that pops out of my wrist when I press on just the right place on my palm; it looks like a beating heart.
2. I've had chronically dislocating knees since my earliest memories. This used to be a very painful and not infrequent problem when I lived in the icy Midwest, but since moving to SoCal, it only happens about once every two years.
3. I'm petrified of horses (although I liked the idea of them as a kid - just not the real McCoy).
4. I'm hypersensitive to background music, architecture, etc. There are many places I avoid because of this.
5. I'm a stickler for grammar and spelling (I welcome typo correction - I consider it a favor akin to telling a friend discreetly that there's lettuce in her teeth or her fly is open).
6. I like a clean house but despise housework and avoid it whenever possible. My neat freak husband keeps me in line. That reminds me: it's already 5, and I still haven't started the single task I was assigned for the whole day.
7. I'd take Joshua Bell over George Clooney.

I'm not going to follow #3 and 4 (due in part to shyness and also a healthy disregard for rules), but please feel free to play along if you're so inclined.

Monday, November 05, 2007

learning notes: late October

Thanks to Nina for the idea of posting my weekly learning notes. I jotted down plenty of notes for the week of October 15-21, but the following two weeks were too chaotic between the wildfires one week and being a temporary single mom the next (Chris had a business trip to New Jersey). Unfortunately, although I still have my notes from the week of the 15th, it has now been long enough that many of the details escape me, so in the future, I'll be sure to post for the week by Sunday so it's still fresh in my head.


T: library visit & nature walk
W: dance class
R: field trip to an organic vegetable farm
F: music class & Quail Botanical Gardens
N: San Diego Natural History Museum

On the 18th, Eliza's homeschool-preschoolers field trip group went to La Milpa Organica up in North County. Check out Jen's post - she took far better photos than I. Eliza's favorite part by far was yanking carrots and radishes from the ground (and eating them). I wish we had more room in the narrow strip of earth that surrounds our patio for more than a few herbs.

Here's a photo of Eliza among the giant bamboo at Quail Botanical Gardens. We have a membership, but we don't go as often as I'd like because of the distance. It's a very peaceful place with a stunning waterfall and distinct geographical themes. There's a children's garden there, too, but as Eliza spends the entire time holed up in the wooden cottage (not that there's anything wrong with that...), I much prefer the main gardens.

book theme: dragons

  • Puff the Magic Dragon
  • Where's the Dragon?
  • Dragons and Other Beasts
  • George and the Dragon
  • Behold the Dragons


  • Carnival of the Animals

Eliza hadn't listened to (or seen the book for) Carnival of the Animals in so long that it was new to her. I thought she might enjoy sitting on the sofa, having me read aloud the text of the picture book as the music played. She did that at first, but soon enough she thought to jump to her feet and act out the different animals (her favorite? kangaroo jumping on the piano keys). Ever since, Eliza has been asking to listen to the CD almost daily. She no longer wants me to read the picture book, but now she has directed me to two new jobs. First, she insists I have to get down the book at the start and lay it open on the recliner; once each section/animal ends, she runs over and flips the page, says to herself the animal and/or instrument to get psyched up for her next dance interpretation. The other job she gave me is to hold her horizontally in the air for the bird and aquarium parts, which is not best for my back, but to fly through the air gives her such joy.

  • Tosca

Thank goodness Eliza doesn't know Italian, that's all I can say, because Mama needs her opera fix. I include this because even listening to an act or two takes up a large chunk of our time, and also because, although I consider this "me time," Eliza loves, loves, loves to dance to opera CDs. So while I'm curled up with eyes closed or reading the libretto or commentaries, Eliza twirls about. Often she'll go off and play with blocks or such, then come back to dance more. Sometimes she comments to me on how the singer is feeling, but as Tosca's isn't a kid-friendly plot, I'm not about to elaborate.


I already wrote about that in this post. Most of the activities were from First Art by Maryann F. Kohl, but Eliza did "pipe cleaner garland" (MathArts) and the inaugural Unplugged Project.

The garland activity simply involved making a chain of pipe cleaners alternating (2 or 3) colors in a pattern. Eliza had never seen pipe cleaners, so she was fascinated by them. After she was done, she thought it would make a great necklace but was frustrated that the links kept coming apart (that's because after just one example from me, she made all the other links herself).


  • "ball bounce" (Slow & Steady Get Me Ready)
The object of that activity is to drop a ball straight down and catch it on the up-bounce. Eliza had no success in that area, but the second day we tried it, she discovered that a damp soccer ball makes a cool print on the patio, so from then on, we both had fun making water prints all over the patio with bouncing balls and her wooden cars.