Archive for February, 2012

February 24, 2012

is your child an alien? and “Is there life in outer space?”

Every parent has times when they are pretty sure their kids are aliens. If you want to teach them about aliens–or space, and planets, and scientific discovery, then here’s a great book for your little alien.

Title: Is There Life in Outer Space?
Author: Franklyn M. Branley
Illustrator: Edward Miller
Genre: Science, Nonfiction, Early Reader, Picture Book
Ages: 3 – 6


The Wizard of Why is pretty sure there are aliens. After all, aliens show up in lot of books and TV shows, and they’re pretty much true, so there must be aliens. And they are cute and green, with antennae and robot friends. (Although he was quick to tell me recently that Mars could not have aliens because it was too hot in the daytime there.) And since my least favorite thing as a mother is squashing his dreams about the world, I was excited that this book tackled the issue for me. And even better, it does so in a realistic, scientific way, but leaves a lot of room for the imaginative preschooler.

It’s a great introductory science book with fun pictures and a lot to talk about. So many early science books are just terrible–in an attempt to speak to younger children, they end up dumbing the issues down so they don’t many any sense. Or so they make science seem so completely, awfully boring. But this is a great one that talks about when people thought there were aliens (such as War of the Worlds) and what scientists have done to discover (or not discover) them. It’s a fun book, and my son, who loves aliens, and is still pretty sure they exist and might visit any minute, loves the book, too.

What about you? What things does your child like to dream and read about?

February 20, 2012

Girls in the math and sciences

Why are girls in America still falling behind in the sciences and choosing scientific careers so much less often than men? I look at some of these issues in an article published recently in Northstate Parent.

To read more articles I’ve published, check out this list here.

February 13, 2012

Sexual Harassment in Schools

Are kids being sexually harassed by their peers a lot more than we think? And what are the consequences? After reading a report by the AAUW, I talk about these issues in an article published in ParentMap magazine.

To read more articles I’ve published, check out this list here.

February 10, 2012

learn to spell and read, happily

The Wizard of Why is loving the reading right now. It’s so cute. He gets so excited when he sees a word on the street that he knows. He loves asking me “why does that say —-” and then getting my crazy reaction of “WHAT!? You can read that?!” He’s a long way from reading his own books, but the process is so amazingly fun to watch. And just thinking about the whole world that opens up when you start to be able to read…I’m just so excited for him!

Title: Happy Endings: A Story About Suffixes
Author: Robin Pulver
Illustrator: Lynn Rowe Reed
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 4 – 8

I found this book at the library recently and we loved it. It’s definitely for a slightly older crowd (I believe it was written with spelling, not reading in mind), but since he’s into looking at words right now it was perfect for him. It emphasizes suffixes, word endings, which you wouldn’t think made for a fun book, but it does. The story is fun: a class of kids are about to go for summer vacation but first they need to complete the last lesson of the year on suffixes. This proves more difficult when the suffixes hear the teacher say the class is going to “tackle” them after lunch and they go into hiding.

The illustrations are bright and fun and the whole book is written with the suffixes bolded and colored:

He pointed at the board The he stared. “Good grief,” he said. “This is the craziest year of my teaching life! No summer vacation until the words endings are found! Seriously!”

I highly recommend this book for kids learning to read and older kids learning to spell!

February 9, 2012

Meet my family

Everyone else has WAY cooler blog names for their family than I do. Ironic Mom Leanne Shirtliffe calls her twins Thing 1 and Thing 2. Kathryn Apel, children’s writer and author of This is the Mud, interviews a young writer named Squashed Cupcake. And Chase McFadden blogs at Some Species Eat Their Young while referring to his four children as Slim, Perpetual Motion, The Hellcat, and Tax Break #4.

After a lot of brainstorming with my husband, I’d like to introduce my family. Although it’s only fair to note that my husband did NOT agree to his own nickname. Tough luck on that one.

Middle School Crush: My husband, whom I met in seventh grade, likes to fuel my enthusiasm for my own writing with comments such as “what was your book about again?” And a personal favorite, said not too long ago as I was plotting out my chapters on sticky notes all over the walls, “Is that really helpful, or is it like rearranging deck chairs?”

The Wizard of Why: My 3-year-old makes me realize how much I don’t know about the world with all the questions he asks. Things we’ve talked about in the past 24 hours:

  • whether or not robots live in outer space
  • why robots don’t “live”
  • why some robots don’t have faces
  • why trains don’t need steering wheels (this was upsetting)
  • why large cats with sharp teeth eat meat and what exactly meat is (also upsetting, but not as much as not steering trains, partially because he doesn’t believe me about the meat)
  • why a T. Rex eats “real meat” and why that may or may not be made from animals (this was a heated discussion)
  • why an hour is 60 minutes and why a minute is 60 seconds and how long that all takes exactly
  • why the dashboard of my car tells me how much gas we are using
  • why some cars use a lot of gas
  • why using too much gas is bad for the planets like Earth
  • why Gyroscope’s birthday comes before his, even though Gyroscope is younger

Well, I think there was more, but you get the picture. Plus, to say we are obsessed with the Wizard of Oz is a huge understatement. We are coming up on the one year anniversary of that obsession, so that will be a good 25% of his life. So that’s the reasoning behind that one.

Gyroscope: Gyroscope, who is almost one, hasn’t stopped moving since he entered our lives, which he did as quickly as he does everything else (a mere 3 hours after announcing his intentions and a short 30 minutes after we crawled (he and I, that is) into the hospital). Favorite activities include: playing with anything the The Wizard of Why is currently playing with, crawling on the dining room table, standing on his head in a downward dog position.

So–even if you don’t have a blog, what would be your blog names for your family?

February 6, 2012

Procrastinate much?

I remember the first time procrastination caught up with me in a big way. 7th grade. Native American Indian paper. A late night. Two not very happy and tired parents.

I remember this night, and give you some advice in case you see this tendency in your own children, in an article published in Northstate Parent.

If you want to read other articles I’ve published, check out this page.

February 3, 2012

Bright orange soup gets “Sam I Am” approval from 3yo

It’s another installment of The Family That Eats Together Fridays!

Here’s the way I usually make a new dish: I look up a bunch of recipes online and get the general idea of the process. Am I sautéing, roasting, or boiling? (Side note: if there is any debate, I always choose to sauté or roast over boil as it’s way more flavorful.) Is there a general order in which people put ingredients? Is there a general trend to flavors–do a lot of the recipes have similar herbs and spices? And then I usually make it up with a combination of what I like and what I have on hand.

Last week I had a five-pound bag of carrots to use up. I also had a jar of my favorite ginger, which I always keep in the fridge because I love to cook with ginger, but not so much that it makes sense to keep the fresh stuff on hand. Plus, this stuff is delicious and really easy to use. So after looking up a bunch of carrot-ginger soup recipes, here’s what I did.

1. Chop a large onion and sauté in coconut oil. (It’s unlikely to be a good soup if it doesn’t start with sautéing onion. You could use any other oil or butter here, but I’m on a coconut oil kick right now. Plus, coconut-ginger is a great combo of flavors.)

2. Squeeze in some garlic paste. (I would have normally put in fresh garlic here, but I was out. Oftentimes, I will put in both.)

3. Put in two heaping tablespoons of ginger.

4. Put in about 2 pounds of chopped carrots and sauté a little first.

5. Add in a bunch of vegetable broth, a little less than a quart.

6. Cook for a while, at least until carrots are really soft, but soup is always better the longer it cooks–I love to make soup early and then let it simmer for hours. Yum! Or even cook it in the morning and reheat it at night. Also yum!

7. I used my favorite kitchen tool, the blender on a stick, and made it nice and creamy and bright orange. You could also put it in a regular blender, but BE VERY CAREFUL. Don’t fill it up very full, and hold the lid on TIGHT. Trust me, I have exploded hot soup all over the kitchen before, and it is not fun. (It’s even less fun when you do it at your dad’s house, just FYI.)

8. Add some milk at the end to make it creamy. Coconut milk would have been perfect, but I didn’t have any. I also didn’t have any cow or goat milk, so I used rice milk, which was just fine.

The soup was incredibly delicious! My husband raved, I raved. My 3-year-old didn’t eat a lot, but he ate some, and after trying it, he said, with the same emphasis I use when reading Green Eggs and Ham, “Say! I DO like it!” And then we went through the whole routine of eating carrot soup on a boat and on a train…