Heading eastbound for spring break

In a couple of days, my boys and I will be boarding a plane heading to Washington, D.C. for a two-week trip to the Mid Atlantic states. We’ve been wanting to take this trip for a long time and almost went last year. I was concerned my youngest may be too young to not only enjoy, but also remember the trip, so we waited until he turned six this year to schedule it.

Cherry blossoms in Washington DC - courtesy of Jet Blue

Cherry blossoms in Washington DC – courtesy of Jet Blue

I didn’t start packing seriously until yesterday, and believe me, packing for three people for a two-week trip is quite a puzzle. Especially the guessing part about how many light, warm and very warm layers I need to bring for each of us. Apparently spring weather on the East Coast includes snow, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed the weather will warm up a bit before our arrival. We’ve had rain in San Diego these past couple of days, so I can’t even take the California weather with us. The cherry trees are supposed to be blooming in D.C. at the time of our visit but we’ll see what Mother Nature has in store for us.

We’ll be staying several days outside of D.C. to visit the city and parts of Maryland, then travel to Delaware to spend the weekend with my best friend, and then head south to Virginia and enjoy some of the most beautifully green places the US has to offer. Oh, and check out George Washington’s fake teeth at Mount Vernon. We can’t miss that.

I’ve got a good list of things we want to see and do during our visit but I’d like to ask for your input. What do you think should be on our list that may not be that obvious? What is a cool place to go in that area? What don’t we want to miss? I can’t wait to see what you recommend.

Goofy Monday: true advertising

Every day, my kids are bombarded with advertising messages, whether it’s on the radio, TV or in writing form everywhere they go. And boy, do they notice! I have to admit my kids are smart. With a marketing professional as their mom, they can recognize the “smoke and mirrors” when they see them, and they’re often skeptical of the advertising messages they see and hear. But sometimes, they also realize that advertising can be true…

Long lasting flavor
Son #1: “Look at the gum box. It says “long lasting flavor.”
Me: “And?”
Son #1: “It’s actually true! I’ve been chewing on this gum forever and it still tastes like this. Wow, I can’t believe it.”

Trident gum - long lasting flavor

Trident gum – long lasting flavor

Overflowing shelves
Son #1 (during a trip at ToysRUs before Son #2′s birthday): “Look, mama, the shelves are overflowing with toys!”
Me: “That’s a good way to describe it.” (have you seen how many toys are in there???)
Son #1: “No, that’s what they say on the radio, and it’s TRUE!” pointing at all the toys)
I personally think ToysRUs is still trying to get rid of excess inventory left over after Christmas, but you can’t say anything bad about their accurate statement.

Now, this Goofy Monday edition isn’t all about advertising, true or false. It’s also about socks.

Those darn socks
One day, I watched Son #1 pulling his socks up repeatedly until I said this…
Me: “Stop pulling on your socks. You’re going to stretch them and ruin them.”
Son #1: “But they keep coming down, I don’t know why.”
Me: “Let me see.”
I took a look at his socks and realized the problem.
Me: “Oh, that’s because they’re MY socks. Sorry…”
Do you know how hard it is to sort white socks and figure out whose they are as you put them away?

What’s that black thing?
Son #2: “Mama, there’s a caterpillar on the floor!”
Me: “Where?”
Son #2: “In the closet. It’s a fuzzy caterpillar, so watch out.” (those are the poisonous ones that burn your skin if you touch them with bare hands)
Me (looking at the black thing on the closet floor): “Oh, I think it’s dead.”
Can you guess what the “caterpillar” was?

Black caterpillar fuzz

Black caterpillar fuzz

Love hurts
Son #2 (squeezing me very hard): “Mama, I love you so much, your eyes will pop out.”
Me (barely breathing): “I bet you’re right. You might even crack a few of my ribs.”
What can I say, those are the best hugs in the world!

WWW Wednesdays – March 19, 2014

WWW Wednesdays

Since I used my last WWW Wednesdays update to share the books I recently read, I thought I’d use this update to catch up on some of the books my kids have been reading and enjoying. Some children’s books make a more lasting impression than others. Below is a small selection of books that we really enjoyed, made us laugh or made us think in the past couple of months. If you’re looking for some children’s book ideas, I hope these are helpful.

By the way, one of my most favorite books, The Giver by Lois Lowry, is finally going to be a movie, 20 years after being published. Gosh, I hope the movie doesn’t disappoint. It has a lot to live up to.

Books we really enjoyed

Journey by Aaron BeckerJourney by Aaron Becker. I’m disappointed this book didn’t win the 2014 Caldecott Medal, as I think its illustrations were mind blowing and highly imaginative compared to the winner Locomotive (that book is still OK, by the way, but way too long to read out loud). In Journey, using a red marker (remember Harold and the Purple Crayon, except this book is wordless), a young girl draws a door on her bedroom wall and enters another world. There she experiences many adventures, including being captured by an evil emperor. The denouement reveals who comes to her rescue, making young readers understand that with a little imagination, anything is possible. By far one of the best books we’ve read in the past few months.

Mr. Wuffles! by David WiesnerMr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner. Poor Mr. Wuffles seems very uninspired by his many cat toys, except for one single toy, which happens to be a spaceship belonging to tiny aliens the size of ants. After Mr Wuffles damages their spaceship, the aliens must venture in the human and cat world to find a way to repair their aircraft so they can go back to their world. Except for a few speech bubbles featuring alien talk (and you can figure out what the hieroglyphics text actually says if you’re smart!), this book is mostly wordless, in a comic book format. There’s so much to look at on each page, this book will entertain curious kids for hours.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett. We enjoy reading Mac Barnett’s books and this is one of our favorite. Annabelle finds a box containing yarn and starts knitting for everyone in the town, somehow her yarn supply never running out. That’s until a greedy archduke decides to get the extra yarn for himself. My kids love the ending of this book, which clearly shows that mean people don’t get zilch by being nasty.

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. This book is magic for all readers, as it invites you to tap, rub, touch, and wiggle the lovely illustrations to make an apple tree bloom, produce fruit, and lose its leaves. What a smart and cute way to display a tree’s yearly cycle!

A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy CookeA Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke. This is one of the CUTEST animal books I’ve ever read. And after reading this book, I dare you not to like sloths. Featuring many photos of baby (and adult) sloths, this book educates you about their fascinating world. It contains tons of facts my kids and I didn’t know, and it even inspired my son to write a non-fiction story about sloths for his writing period at school. Animal books can’t get any better than this one.

Books that made us laugh

Open Very Carefully by Nick Bromley. Imagine reading a quiet storybook when suddenly, a crocodile appears and wreaks havoc on the characters. Will you close the book shut, or take a peek inside to see what happens next? My kids and I love interactive books and this is a great one.

Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam LehrhauptWarning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt. This is another interactive book where the narrator warns you not to open it. And if you do, watch out for the many monkeys, toucans, and even alligators you release and the mayhem that follows. Er, how do you get them back inside?

Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds. It’s tough being a meat eater when you try to make friends with plant eaters but you feel misunderstood. Is it your fault that your diet includes the critters you’re trying to blend in with? This book is not for the squeamish (no blood, I promise) but it’s very funny!

The hiccupotamus by Aaron ZenzThe Hiccupotamus by Aaron Zenz. I haven’t had this much fun reading a book out loud for a long time, and it gets funnier every time. I mean, the whole book is like this:
There was a hippopotamus
who hiccupped quite-a-lotamus.
And every time he got’emus . . .
he’d fall upon his bottomus!
So what do you do to help a hippo who has the hiccups? You’ll have to read the storytamus to find the answeramus…

Books that made us think

Back Of The Bus by Aaron Reynolds. Rosa Parks’ defiance and arrest is shown from the eyes of an African American child sitting at the back of the bus with his mom. The child wonders why the bus doesn’t move when Rosa Parks stays in her seat at the front of the bus, and he hears his mom worry, “There you go, Rosa Parks, stirrin’ up a nest of hornets.” But both mother and child slowly realize that this time may be different. My kids both were studying the civil rights movement when we read this book, and it was a wonderful way to give them a child’s perspective.

Unspoken : A Story From The Underground Railroad by Henry ColeUnspoken : A Story From The Underground Railroad by Henry Cole. Unspoken is absolutely brilliant: just like its title, it doesn’t feature a single word, making its story even more powerful. A Southern farm girl discovers a runaway slave hiding behind the corn crib in the barn and decides to help him by feeding him on his journey. No a single word is spoken between the two, and the girl keeps his presence a secret from everyone, even when the confederate soldiers offer a reward. Even if you don’t read children’s books, you should grab a copy of Unspoken and find out how a picture really can be worth a thousand words.

On A Beam Of Light : A Story Of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne. This is a great book that Einstein’s life from his earlier years, showing how he always questioned the world and universe surrounding him, and how he never stopped imagining, which led him to make groundbreaking discoveries.

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Goofy Monday a la French, and some other unknown land…

Hey, look, it’s Monday! And I have a new Goofy Monday post for you. Don’t you feel lucky? Oh, is that Irish luck rubbing on you? Well, you’ll have to wait a week for that. Nope, it’s French luck. Check out the French connection in the first two conversations. My kids have French blood running through their veins and they know it!

The smell of freedom
Son #2 (getting out of the car at San Diego’s Balboa Park): “Aaaaahhh, smell that? It’s the smell of freedom.”
Son #1: “No it’s not. It smells like croissant.”
Incidentally there was a croissant in my bag, so I think Son #1 may have been correct. But I’ll give Son #2 an A for his figurative sense of smell.

What color is your rainbow?
Son #2 (drawing a rainbow): “Red first. Then orange…”
Me (looking at him drawing): “Isn’t the orange is supposed to go on top of the red, not below?”
Son #1: “Maybe in France it’s like that, but here the red is a the bottom of the rainbow.”
I’m so bad at drawing rainbows, I had to google the answer. And just so you know, French rainbows look the same as American rainbows. I obviously have no clue, but for my defense, I’d like to add that when you see a double rainbow, the lower rainbow displays the colors in reverse, since it’s a reflection of the other rainbow. Maybe that’s what I was thinking of…

The colors of the double rainbow

The colors of the double rainbow

What’s your Native American name?
Son #2: “In class, we’re picking Native American names. You have to pick a nature name and an animal name, and put them together. What do you want to be?”
Me: “Oh, I’d like to be something soft.”
Son #2: “How about… a porcupine?”
Me: “Uh, maybe something a little softer.”
Ouch, I wouldn’t want to cuddle with one of those. By the way, I ended up being Snow Bear.

You’re not welcome in my imaginary land
Son #2 is talking on a cell phone, pretending…
Me: “Who are you calling?”
Son #2: “I don’t have to tell you who I’m pretending to call.” (what can I say ? He’s practicing his teenage attitude…)
Son #2 continues to talk, and now I’m listening…
Son #2: “Hi, I’m calling from Metro Decor*. I’m trying to recover a dead sloth. I’m about to go on the bunny of terror.”
Wow, I know who to ask if I’m looking for storybook inspiration!
*Metro Decor is a furniture store that advertises on the radio.