Monday, July 18, 2011

Needed: Plant Babysitter

Who will take care of you, my little basil and dill plants? Who will check to make sure that you get enough sun, enough water? Who will check to make sure the birds and bugs aren't bothering you or picking at you? Who will take you in out of the hail and the tsunami-like rains? I want to taste you so badly, but fear you won't make it through the summer all alone... :(

Fingers crossed!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A little sun

We got a little sun this afternoon, so everyone ran out into the garden to soak it up.

It lasted about 5 minutes. Oh well.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Ribs

It's hard to find ribs here, even though they eat so much pork. So when Andres saw them in the supermarket, he grabbed them up in a flash. We had a great meal this afternoon, sticky sweet bbq ribs and baked potatoes and corn. Even the kids ate them!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Family Game Night

One of my favorite childhood memories growing up was family game night. As I recall, and because our childhood minds gauge time differently from our adult minds I could be completely wrong about some of the details, every Friday night we would have a family game night. This was before "the girls", when it was just me and Amy and the rents, and dad had a collection of board games that to this day makes me jealous. I remember Dad reading the rules, explaining them, and always doing a "practice round" (very teacher-like of him!). Then we would play, and boy did I love playing those games! I remember the Las Vegas Nights casino game, horse race game, Uno and Skip-bo (sometimes we'd play these at Grandma's instead) and who knows what else! It was always a surprise. To this day I think that a lot of my "school smarts" came from learning and playing those games. I think people, especially children, acquire a lot of cognitive flexibility from board games and card games, learning things like logic and statistics and cause and effect in a natural, fun way. So, yes, I think that board games can make you smarter!

I have decided to try something similar with the kids. We don't manage to do it every Friday night, but I want to try to play as many games with them this summer as I can so that their brains remain supple and ready to learn, and the beginning of the school year isn't so painful!

One of our favorite games is Multiplication Bingo. We make Bingo boards with multiplication products and then use flashcards to call the numbers. Agustin just sees the equation, and no one can mark a number until he gives us the right answer. It is a complete blast, and he gets good practice with his multiplication tables as well.

Next year we'll be doing addition and subtraction bingo with Nico!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Up with a fish!

The kids made me buy this app, since we got The Cat in the Hat. They will spend hours (well, minutes, because it goes through the iPod battery pretty fast), playing this game. I played the other day and it was fun. Especially with the kids next to me, screaming as Thing 1 and Thing 2 came crashing down to destroy my carefully balanced fishbowls!

Problem is, I get a little hungry when that cake comes down.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Physical trips and etrips: which is better?

Some of the books I have on my iPod which need to be read. I have gone overboard a little, as I normally do at the library, and I think I have a few too many on my plate, especially considering that in less than a week we will be in MN, and I won't have time to read for all the visiting I'll be doing!

Even so, sometimes I just sit and stare at my ebooks. A world waiting to happen :) But I do miss having a real book to touch and hold. One of the biggest drawbacks to an ebook is not being able to page through it before you check it out, not being able to see how long it is (sometimes you get a book and realize that you're not willing to trudge through 900 pages!). It's also very VERY uncomfortable to browse, and often books that "aren't" on the shelf if you browse, are if you do a search. But it makes it hard if you're not really searching for something specific.

A physical trip to the library will still be one of the first things I do when I get home, but it just won't have the same magical pull as it normally does...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Back to Legos

Didn't I tell you? Every day the kids are pumped to get home and make something new that they thought about while at Grandma's house. Today it was this: a transformer robot (Agustin) and a big monster truck thingy (Nico's). (I'm sorry, Nico, that I couldn't work out anything more specific, but if I dare ask what it is you made, you get a little in my face and look at me like "Can't you tell!?")

Reminds me of the comment Hannah sent us a few days ago. I am still giggling over that one!!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Big as ... Grandma!

This weekend when we went to the hotel buffet, as we were leaving Agustin went on ahead with his grandma. Suddenly I saw my "big" boy - it can be hard seeing changes in them as they grow up, since they do it before your eyes, and they will always be your baby - but today I looked up and saw this!

Agustin looked so grown up and big, and thinking of it, he will be eight in a few months! Soon he will be as big as Grandma!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Make it more Paredes-Miller kid-friendly :)

Today we celebrated Bati's birthday at Hotel Colon. They have a Sunday lunch buffet that is very good. Of course, it isn't kid-friendly. Or, as Andres would say, Ecuadorian-kid friendly (every other kid had no problem eating Brie cheese with scallops and heart of palm ceviche), but not Paredes-Miller kid-friendly. Sure enough, Agustin ate a bit of sausage and meat, some cheese cubes, dinner rolls and plantain chips, and a few brownies and scoops of ice cream. Nico didn't get quite so nutritious. He tried the chicken ("Yummy, Mommy...but I'm not really hungry), had some popcorn and a scoop of ice cream and a small dinner roll.

It's so nice to go, but you feel bad spending $25 on a small plate of popcorn and mini dinner rolls.

I think the picture is funny. Nico looks like he was really enjoying himself, but he couldn't even really get into the ice cream. That's how bad his eating habits have become.

I really wonder - what would it cost them to throw a few "regular" hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill (no parsely or herb-stuffed stuff), french fries and something else the kids might like, like chicken nuggets. I wonder how many more families would bring their kids if they did.

Of course, as I said, every other kid there was eating pepper-laced asparagus and Ceasar salad with sauteed mushrooms and pineapple-glazed ham, so who knows?

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Make something cool!

Since school has gotten out, this has become a common sight at our house. All three boys, sitting on the floor, making something "cool" with their Legos. Nico is starting to get better at it, too, with a lot of help from big brother, and now he will also sit for minutes (maybe not hours like Tin) working on some special project.

It's funny to see, because Agustin has always been so good at looking at the directions and following them to a "T" in order to make whatever the project is about. Nico still isn't very good at it. He'll skip a step, or try to work from memory, or just not be able to figure out where a piece goes. Funny how two brothers can have such different visual-spacial skills.

Friday, July 08, 2011

I Love Pluto

Tonight, before bed. "Mommy, I love Pluto."

"Oh, really? Well, then I do, too."

"Mommy, it's not nice that they won't let Pluto be a planet anymore. But for me, Pluto will always be a planet. I love Pluto."

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Days of the Helmet

It's a sign of the times. I grew up in the seventies and early eighties, where safety issues revolved around keeping your windows closed at night in the summer so no one could sneak into your room and rape you in the middle of the night. (My bedroom was on the second floor, but apparently rapists will even climb trees to get at you.)

Flash forward 30 years (ouch! that hurts!) and you can see how the idea of "safety" has changed. As I've written about in a previous post, The Monster at the End of this Book is one of our favorite bedtime stories around here, and recently we bought the app. The other day, the kids were talking about how "now" Grover has a helmet, but in the real book he didn't. I went back and checked it out, and sure enough! That is a major difference from the book and the book app.
Funny the kids would notice it. It flew over my head entirely.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Curbing my sweet tooth

Tonight Amy called me and we had a long, lovely chat. She inspires me so much. I will be forever grateful to her! After we talked I decided to put together some 2-point brownies. I wrapped them all up into small portion-controlled bars and these will be great for a little snack or chocolate craving during the day. They are not very good, which means they curb my craving for something sweet real fast!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Sharks and Bears

Q: What do sharks and bears have in common?

A: They will both show up in our bedtime routine tonight!

Our bedtime routine consists of a book each kid chooses. We read them together. Tonight it will be all about sharks and a Berenstain Bears book.
We get real upset if, for whatever reason, this routine gets messed up.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Fourth!

We don't always get to celebrate the fourth in style, but this year, even though it landed on a workday, I decided we could try to put something together real quick. So we sat down to grilled hot dogs, potato salad, light beer and caramel corn. I went for my run (started c25k today), and when I got back, Andrés, who wasn't feeling very good, asked me to go to the corner store and pick up some hot dog buns. Well, one hour later I finally found a "corner" store that had hot dog buns. Rushed back and we had to put together the rest of the meal in a huge hurry, because the coals were burning out...

After dinner we went outside with the kids and did sparklers.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

No playing ball in the house!

Isn't this what every mother says, and something you hear your whole life? For some reason, my mother-in-law doesn't seem to mind if the kids play soccer or play with balls in the house, and they have brought that bad habit into mine! Of course, you never know they are playing ball until something crashes, or you just happen to walk in on them, caught in the middle of the act!

Oops! Better have a good excuse, boys...

Saturday, July 02, 2011


Today was the last day of my class for the Master's of Education Degree. The course was called "Aprendizaje Colaborativo" (Collaborative Learning) and there were 15 students this time. The last day is usually when the students put together all the things we have been doing with collaborative learning and finally design a 45-minute class with collaborative learning as the central learning technique. So, most of the day was watching the students teach. It is really fun to see how they put together all the things they've been talking about, but can be frustrating too when things don't quite go as planned.

Here the students were involved in a marketing class. They had 20 minutes to make tuna sandwiches and sell them outside of our classroom, and then use that experience to discuss the strategies they used and ultimately to understand some of the major concepts that should go into a marketing plan. This was definitely the highlight of the day, and a nice change of pace when you are in class on a Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The (lack of) altitude and noise from all the microteaching classes got to me a bit by mid-afternoon, and I ended up going into the airport with quite a headache. I was there early, and had to watch all the other flights going out to Quito, wishing I was on each one! In the end I had to wait for my own, the last of the night, but oh how it stinks to be in the airport early and watch another flight leaving for your same destination!

When I got into Quito the boys were there to pick me up. As I got into the car, Kas asked me, very politely, "Mommy, how did it go?"

What a sweetie!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Last Day of School 2011

It finally arrived. It seemed like it never would. But finally...FINALLY!...the kids are out of school and we won't have to run around at night doing homework or looking for supplies to complete homework assignments... Sigh. Sweet relief! Summer SO makes me feel like a kid.

Yesterday the kids didn't have school (Kas is already out), but Tin had to go back today for the final graduation ceremony and year closing. I had class until 9, so I missed the actual ceremony, but there was a little party in the classroom afterwards, with cake and pizza (Agustin had been looking forward to the pizza ALL week, then got a slice of mushroom pizza and was NOT happy).

In the early afternoon I was off for my last weekend in Guayaquil, at Universidad Casa Grande. Because they waited so long to get my tickets and couldn't find a flight, I ended up getting in much earlier than needed, but I used the time to just hang out a bit on the campus and have a cold drink while reading an ebook. :)