Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Books We Read This Week

Ok, so the week is not over yet, but I better post these books now so I don't forget to do it later. Since our old car was not driving all that well plus so many of our friends spent their winter break either travelling or being sick or both, we spent more time than normal at home in the past few days. So we read a lot.

I picked up the book of Bazhov's tales last time I was in New York mostly because I wanted it for myself. The language seemed quite difficult for a young child to understand. There are a lot of words that fell out of use long time ago. Kids in Russia might be exposed to some of these words through fairy tales and old cartoons. But my son is not one for fairy tales (he'll ask to read and re-read the Complete History of Star Wars instead) and the only Russian cartoons he is still interested in are Smeshariki, Fixiki and Pin Code. So I was very surprised when M liked the stories, kept asking for more, remembered the names of the characters and even talked about what if he was in those stories. I'm going to try to show him some of the old Soviet cartoons based on these stories.

This is another one of my favorite childhood books. I tried reading it with M months ago, but he wasn't too interested. The language is not difficult and the stories are funny and engaging. I think he was too much into his rockets and space exploration phase though. So by the time we picked up this book again, we've already read about Paddington Bear and Emil from Lonneberga, much longer and more involved stories. As M is getting older, he's becoming a lot more thrilled with mischievous characters yet he still wants them to be cute and cuddly. I think that's why this time around Kuzka stories are such a big hit.

Angelo is the first book that I insisted on not translating into Russian. M didn't like the idea of me reading a book in English. But he became too absorbed in the story after just the first couple of pages. To keep things consistent with our one parent one language approach, I plan on only reading in English during our English lessons. Our evening story time will remain in Russian for the foreseeable future. As for the book, M found the story more sad than happy. I saw him blinking away a tear or two as the story moved along. We talked a bit more about this story (in Russian) which gave me an opportunity to introduce a few new Russian words, such as штукатурка, штукатурщик, херувим, строительные леса, etc.

M liked this book, the Perfect Square, enough to pick up a square of origami paper and scissors and do his own little collage. I hoped for more, but what can I say - M just doesn't like cutting, tearing or gluing paper.

This week we also read two more math books. The first one was 1+1 = 5 and Other Unlikely Additions. I tried it some time ago, but without much success. This time, however, M was thrilled. He insisted we read the book a couple of times and then he retold me the entire story. We even tried coming up with our own unlikely additions. What I liked most was that both number recognition and addition were present, but not central. M used both without even really noticing it since he was so absorbed figuring out the attributes in each picture that really made each addition work.

The last book I want to share is Roman Numerals from I to MM. No, I'm not teaching M Roman numerals. But I wanted him to see how using different numerals affects how we write and read numbers. He liked the idea that numbers could be written as letters. He LOVED the fact that his letter, M, was used for the largest single-symbol value (M = 1000). It didn't hurt that the pictures of cute piggies were so darn... cute. He immediately recognized them from Hogwash and Pigaroons books. I like this book and will try going a bit more in-depth with it in a few months.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I can't believe it's only January 3rd. The past few days have been a whirlwind. To begin with, I cooked a TON of food... again. Yep, after the giant Thanksgiving dinner complete with the everlasting turkey, I promised to myself that the New Year's застолье would be a very modest one - just some cheese and olives and a store-bought dessert. Oh, and maybe just a tiny bit of the Olivier salad. Oh, and Chris wanted red caviar, so of course a tiny jar of that. Plus, to add a bit of color, a small bowl of the beet salad.

Yeah, right! Somehow I ended up with two giant bowls of salads - one with Olivier and the other one - with the beet one. And I baked brie in puff pastry with the secret-recipe cranberry sauce and almonds. Oh, and not to forget, a giant cast iron pot of жаркое. So it was a whole lot of food after all. The good part is I haven't had to cook for the past few days. Which is just as well because we were busy looking for and buying a car.

So now we have a new certified pre-owned car. Hooray to us! Our old car which we bought genuinely new back in 2002 (when we were young and naive) has seen better days, much better days. We haven't been taking it on highways or anywhere outside of the 30 mile radius from our house for about a year. We'll be sad to see it go (when and if we sell it) 'cause it's been a great car to us even though pretty much everyone we know told us from Day 1 that it was total crap and we made like the biggest mistake of our lives.

Nor was buying our first car as much of a pain and a time-suck as buying this one. Seriously! I hate the entire process now and hope to not have to go through it again for the next 10-12 years. And by then we'll have bullet trains and moving sidewalks installed everywhere anyway.

Ah, I forgot to mention the gifts our very lucky son got for the New Year! A very indulgent Ded Moroz, the Russian Santa, got him this awesome thing. Needless to say, M is in love! He spent what seemed like the entire New Year's Day alternating between driving Sphero around the house and driving us up the wall complaining that Sphero wasn't charging fast enough. For now M uses Sphero mostly for flipping virtual cupcakes to Sharky the Beaver in the augmented reality game (at the end of each round Sharky says "sugar coma" which apparently M finds super funny; he also pointed out that Sharky must have lots of cavities).

M also got more lose Legos, something he really wanted for his ambitious construction projects. But at this point nothing could compete with Sphero.

Finally, this week we are back to homeschooling. Seems like our winter break lasted forever! But more on that later. For now, Happy New Year to All and to All a Good Night!