Play and theme-based learning with our children

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Time Capsule 2011

Think archival. At least you need to if you’re planning  to bury a time capsule for 5+ years in the ground. I’m still unsure about how exactly we’ll store ours.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

How We Did Our Celery Dying Experiment

This post first appeared on the blog, and I'm re-posting here for the sake of keeping memories in one place.

It all started with the little water dropper that came in our “Colorful Inspiration” Kiwi Crate.  My 4 year-old son pleaded to open his crate, specifically because he wanted to play with his pipette.
So, we used it to mix colored water, an activity that can seemingly keep him occupied for eternity, or at least until he’s reached mixing saturation indicated by all water turning a dark-brownish purple color. We’ve done this a few times.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How We Made Our Melted Crayon Planets

This post first appeared on the blog, and I'm re-posting here for the sake of keeping memories in one place.

It’s space month here at Kiwi Crate! Fortunately, the planets are cooperating and making a strong showing in the night sky. As of December, you can spot five planets visibly glistening – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – if you know where to look. Golden Jupiter and Venus show up the brightest and earliest.

Now that it gets dark early, my son H and I have been making a point to look for Jupiter and Venus before bedtime. H also thought it’d be fun to create our own planets.

Monday, December 26, 2011

How We Made Our Clay Ornaments

This post first appeared on the blog, and I'm re-posting here for the sake of keeping memories in one place.

OK, I’ve finally accepted that my calendar isn’t broken. It really is almost the middle of December(!!). Though my Christmas spirit is still simmering, my 4-year-old son’s holiday radar is burning red hot. He’s ready for Santa action, so when I asked him if he’d like to make his own tree ornaments, he could hardly contain his excitement!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

How We Made Our Christmas Tree Skirt

This was originally posted at, and I'm re-posting here for the sake of keeping memories in one place.

The holiday break is here! Hopefully you’re able to soon take a step back and focus on the activities you most enjoy about the holidays. Looking back on Christmas as a kid, it occurs to me I remember more about the simple rituals of decorating the tree, baking, and playing board games with family than I do about any particular present.

This is the first year my oldest has gotten into crafting, so I’ve been taking plenty of opportunity to create memorable traditions for our family. We’ve been making our own ornaments, and even made a new batch last night. They’re great gifts.

But this time I’m making something for myself. I never got around to buying a Christmas tree skirt, which is a good thing since now I can make my own!

Merry Christmas!

Ho Ho Ho! 
Wishing you an abundance of joy and love this holiday season!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Handprints on Our Christmas Tree Skirt

The cat's out of the bag with the hilarious First Round holiday video! Yep, I've been happily spending a lot more time at Kiwi Crate. 

This week my sons and I made our very own Christmas tree skirt. Even the baby got in on the crafting. Well, he didn't exactly have a choice but was a sport about it considering! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Melted Crayon Planets

My son and I made our own planets! Find out how we did it on the Kiwi Crate blog.  

H and I stumbled on this idea, making it all the more fun for the both of us. I was simply finding ways to use up our bits and pieces of crayon (before our dog ate them!), and it was H who thought our creations looked like planets.  And you know, they do! So we did it again, this time with the intention of making planets.

This is my special Jupiter with the red spot.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Technology Trumps Trains

H (my son): "Mom, when you were four years old, did you ask your mother very nicely if you could play with the iPad?"
Me: [internal giggle] "When I was four years old, there was no iPad. In fact it's only been around since you were a baby. Can you imagine that? What would you play with if there was no iPad?"
H: "The iPhone!"
Me: [external giggle] "But what if there was no iPhone or iPad? What would you play with then?"
H: "My toys, I guess. But I'd rather play with the iPad."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Kiwi Crate Inspires and Expands Creativity!

There's something I've been meaning to tell you. I have a huge crush on...well...a company. If you've seen my prior posts, you've probably noticed I'm friends with

I forged this friendship because I think Kiwi Crate is doing something very positive for young kids. Here's why:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Clay Ornaments at Kiwi Crate!

We're playing over at Kiwi Crate today! Go here to check out how my son and I made our very first DIY clay ornaments.  I was sure my son made his first (pic below) so he didn't feel he needed to copy what I made (above).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Boy and His Dog

Did you dream as a kid your best friend was a large loyal dog who followed you to school and protected you? I did.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy/Sad Airport Day

My mom and son ride the monorail at SFO airport. They look out the large window of the first car, watching the planes as the train travels between terminals. Sometimes my son and I enjoy the monorail as a rainy day treat, but today we're taking Mom to the airport so she can fly back to TX. Sniffle.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Candy Art Round 2

Lollipop art: flower pot
Right about this time every year when I was a kid, my older brother and I would sit down to count what was left of our Halloween candy. We were competing to see who had the most willpower to make their loot stretch until Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dance Party + Thanksgiving Dinner

Before you get the idea this post chronicles the spectacular Thanksgiving spread I made, let me be the first to say thank goodness not.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gift Trees

Mom, whose been visiting for almost two months now, reminisces about her childhood while we take a stroll in the neighborhood. Trees are on fire with color. The crunching rustle tickles the ears. The sensory awakening vividly reminds her of walking to school as a young girl.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Expressive Sandwiches

The weekend is over and I'm packing school lunch. I'm not usually one to fuss over lunch prep. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Celery and Food Color Experiment

The day I gave up trying to keep our kitchen table stain free was the day I became free. That is, free to do science and art projects with my son without worry. Our kiddie "activity table" just wasn't enough space by itself.

I get inspiration for preschool-age activities from many sources, including Kiwi Crate.  You can find our celery experiment on the kiwi crate blog today. Go here to find out how your kid can turn celery into a colorful project about plant circulation.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Saved by the Museum

Fussy baby? Check. Whiney preschooler? Check. Haphazard mixing of Legos and Playmobile on the floor? Check.  Ah, the natives are clearly restless. It's time for a good exit strategy!!

When the house starts to feel more like a pressure cooker than a loving environment, it's time to pack up a snack, hit the escape hatch, and land at one of our favorite local kiddie spots. With the colder weather, I'm not always up for walking or sitting on a park bench.

Thank heaven for the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How I saved us $60K

The smell of a new car - people love it, right? Not me. I imagine tiny dollar signs riding the vapor of whatever chemical is outgassing as I drive the car off the lot.

The problem is that our kids' car seats take up the entire backseat of our 2007 Audi A4 wagon. With my mom visiting, we've been driving two cars for our weekend family outings. Plus, we haven't been able to carpool with other families.

What to do? My husband is quick with a solution. Let's buy a new car! He seems to think we're flush with brain cells and cash. Never mind a little benzene sniffing when we can enjoy the thrill of a new Audi Q7!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall Leaf Printing

Were it not for fall, summer would be my favorite season. Summer fruits are divine, but the juxtaposition of warm fall colors and a cool breeze hits me just right.

There's much fun to be had with fall leaves. Today the kids at my son's preschool made leaf prints. I managed to snap a few pics this morning at drop-off.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Messy Fractions

We had a quick lesson in fractions this morning as I cut my 4 year-old son's pancakes in eighths. "Eight is enough!" he belted, ready to start chowing.

 Before we could continue our lesson, I went to the kitchen to get milk. When I came back I saw my son had hammered his blueberries with his fork, splattering blueberry juice all over the table. Geez. I made him clean up his mess and asked him to apologize. He cleaned up, fake crying the whole time, but he wouldn't apologize. So I gave him a choice between apologizing or going to his room. Guess where he is right now?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tea Reflection

Yogi teas have a little tab of wisdom attached to the tea bag. This morning my cup of tea said, "Let your mind dance with your body."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Integration, Integration, Integration.

I've picked up sticks and moved. Welcome to the new home for my prior blog "Nurturing Neurons" , now Noggin Mama.

I'm hoping to integrate Blogger with other Google products. Get going Google!

Thanks for visiting! You're cordially invited to subscribe.

Your friend,

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Will we ever understand the brain?

At The California Academy of Sciences, surrounded by natural African scenes and live penguins, I (with my lovely friend Amanda) watched neuroscientists David Eagleman and Henry Markram discuss whether we'll ever understand the brain, and how consciousness emerges from it.

The short answer: For the engineering of the brain (working out the billions of molecules, circuits, and so on that make up the brain), very probably so. But maybe not for how consciousness emerges from the brain.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Coaching Your Brain: Inspiration from the Book "Incognito"

Do you ever lie to yourself, or argue with yourself?

I read the book “Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain” by David Eagleman over the weekend, and he unpacks a concept that I think directly addresses this seemingly strange internal drama in a compelling and broad-reaching way.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pregnant Ladies, Put Your Lotus Hands Up (and Find Supportive People)

“You aren’t taking antidepressants, are you?!” Apparently, Mom read my blog post on effects of stress during pregnancy, and was naturally over-concerned. You see, she heard news antidepressants may cause birth defects. Though I'm lucky to be an expectant mom who is neither depressed or taking meds, I can sure say I feel more vulnerable to depression and anxiety while I'm pregnant.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fetus to Mom and Dad: Chill Out. I Don't Want Your Drama!

“Take it easy.” I’m hearing it a lot these days.

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that stress and pregnancy don’t mix. But, if you want a reminder about the potentially negative effects of emotional stress during pregnancy, read this.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

got pregnant mush brain? sleep it off, if you can.

Yesterday I coached clients, launched a new blog, wrote two blogs posts and announced to the world I'm with child at age 40. I was focused, and had a good night's rest! Today... not so much. Last night I couldn't fall asleep to save my life.  Now, I'm staring at my computer, trying to remember why I'm sitting here in the first place, plus I can hardly keep my eyes open. So, excuse me while I take a nap...

AND I'm back.

Kate Hudson made news yesterday by saying "pregnant mush brain" is like being stoned. I love her candor. I've been saying the same for 6 months - I've zero motivation, a serious case of the munchies, and all I want to do is play video games (if Words with Friends on my iPad counts).

My "momnesia" fog hit me by surprise this go 'round.  During my first pregnancy I felt sharp, energetic and worked full time as an editor, juggling deadlines, details and travel. Pregnancy brain was mere myth. But this time I've driven to the wrong airport, space out more often than I'd like to admit, and steal two naps a day if I can get it. But it's not so much that I'm forgetful as it is a total mental and physical exhaustion.

Is pregnancy brain for real? Though the question has been asked many times before, it's a hard problem to study. (If you're aware of a good study on pregnancy and cognition, let me know!). The bottom line based on small studies is that when pregnant women are put to task in the lab, their memory is mostly fine. There might be some minor lapses here or there in the third trimester, but no biggie.

Then what's going on if we can't entirely pin our changing hormones for messin' with our brains?  Well, there's no denying I need a TON more sleep while pregnant, but sleep is one of the harder things to do. I get up 2 times a night to pee, and my growing midsection makes sleeping far less comfortable than I need it to be to have a restful night's sleep. And if I don't sleep well at night, I can't sleep in to make up for it.  If it's not work getting me up in the morning, it's the 6-7am wake-up "Mom!" call. As my witty sister-in-law recently said, "The concept of sleep seems so easy until you try and put it into action."