For Traditions Day at school, the kids were asked to speak about a family tradition and bring in some traditional food. Leo brought in a chocolate fountain. And he spoke about Burning Man and the Zander Lander. I don't think any parent had any idea what he was talking about!
This is O-nigiri, a type of sushi. I have O-nigiri every day for breakfast in Japan. I buy them from the 7-11, where they come in the refrigerated section and are wrapped with layers of plastic that keep the seaweed fresh. They come in all kinds of flavors: raw tuna, eel, plum, caviar, etc. Turns out Leo loves this stuff too!
If you can't see this, go to http://youtu.be/mJfCm8UdXK4
Arrived in Japan about 4pm to figure out the long commute into Tokyo from the airport. We had big luggage so we took the bus which is more direct but got stuck in Sunday traffic. Got to hotel about 7 pm. Then it took over an hour to meet co-worker's cousin at subway station next to hotel because it was so confusing. We then met cousin and took two different subway lines (which means getting out and walkin to different stop and paying again). Got lost trying to find sushi place and finally arrived for dinner at 9pm. Ate some really expensive sushi (cheap for Japanese standards) and made it home around 11pm way exhausted.
I wanted time to myself so I left the group to find Studio Ghibli which unfortunately is very popular and has restricted visitation plus is far from center of Tokyo. So I went to the Mori Museum. Did the Tokyo City view tower and spent morning viewing contemporary Arab art! Very cool and disturbing stuff.
Then an hour wandering around trying to find tempura soba to satisfy craving. I can't remember my Japanese alphabet well so it takes a LONG time to try to read menus and am in the foreigners area so here's a lot of pizza and no soba! Plus some restaurants have ticket machines or eve computers where you order and it was too intimidatin for me.
Settled for tuna rice bowl. Like poke bowl. It comes with teapot of soup stock. Not sure why but it is yummiest soup stock ever. Nothing like MSG to brighten a soup!
Can't get data plan working on phone or ipad but I try to find wifi when I can. Hope all is well back at home!
As you know, I've been frustrated with Leo's pace of learning to read. We made a big breakthrough this week! I bought a couple Dav Pilkey books at the community garage sale last week, mostly because the guys at the table looked so sad, like they hadn't sold anything all morning. Dav Pilkey is famous for his Captain Underpants comic series of books. We love Captain Underpants but Leo can't read it easily - "As the two boys discussed the similarities between elementary school and forced confinement in a harsh, authoritarian penal institue..." Someone must have told Dav that kids who like underwear humor can't read his books, because he created another series called Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot. It's a 'chapter' book in that each book has a dozen chapters, which makes a kid feel smart. But there are pictures on each page, only a few sentences on each page, and it's way easy to read. So we've finally got Leo reading books all by himself. I'm so excited. Next step is to get him to read silently...
There was a community garage sale at the rec center yesterday, run by kids. Leo put together a nice display of toys with his box of 'free stuff with purchase' and halfway through, his "running out of business 50% off" sign. Here he is in front of his storefront with Samantha, whose store was the next table over. The kids did great with the math and customer service. They made a bunch of money too which Leo is very excited about.
Since there were about 20 families there, it meant we brought home nearly as much volume as we sold. Leo bought this fancy roboraptor real cheap because the remote was not working. We fixed the remote and it's a fantastic toy. Here it is operating in autonomous play mode, reacting to a dancing stuffed animal:
If you can't see this, you can go to http://youtu.be/qYi1WYxQMXA
Leo found a giant green tomato hornworm in the garden. Rather than let me kill it, he decided it should be a pet. So we cut off tomato branches regularly to feed it:
And after a few days, it stopped eating and started turning more brownish. Last evening, it shed its skin (you can see the big brown plop to the left of the chrysalis and you can see feet on that skin!) and made a chrysalis. Technically, I thought it ought to be a cocoon since it will grown into a hawkmoth, but sure looks like a chrysalis to me. This morning the chrysalis was all brown.
Vicki says it will take a long time to emerge. Until it does, this is our new kitchen table companion!
We went to the neighbor's pirate-themed birthday party and our neighbor's tenant (who is a professional face painter) did this great skeleton face for Leo. She forgot the crossbones, but that would have been too scary for the two-year-olds
Leo and Isa can't have a playdate without turning it into a dinner date, a sleepover, and eventually a 24 hour playdate. Their dinner date ended up being a fancy event at Sushi Den. They dressed up in their fanciest wear and turned heads at the restaurant.
Leo made this pastel picture of a pear in an art class. It blew us away. As you know, he is color blind, but here you can hardly tell. Anyway, the school lost it so we are bummed. Have to buy him some art supplies and have him work on more canvases for us!
Leo was getting 'helmut head', so we went to the hairdresser. We had to wait a while so we looked at the "women's hairstyle" book which was pretty frightening and then the men's hairstyle" book which is a lot less frightening. Leo picked out a bunch of hairstyles that he liked. They were all short with lots of hair goop. So we asked the hairdresser if she could do it and lo and behold, we've got a punky looking kid on our hands. He even got some 'hair glue' to keep it punky looking.
Kids these days have the most amazing birthdays. Charlotte's birthday party was at the rock climbing gym. Kids got to boulder (climb sideways along a wall, short distance from ground), climb up some 20-25 feet onto giant rock formations, climb with a rope and harness, and try the slack line (tightrope). It was amazingly fun and all the kids had a great time. The birthday cake was pretty amazing too, a cake with a fondant covered rice krispie treat that was angled up as a giant flatiron (the flat rocks here in Boulder) with a climber dressed just like Charlotte on it. I don't know what the kids are going to say when Leo turns 7 and we have a party in our dandelion infested backyard with a few lawn chairs and a rope swing!
Leo is pretty safe and cautious, so he was heading up and down a lot of these rocks pretty slow (me, too, since we were roped in), and the middle clip of him climbing the giant rock formation without a rope was pretty scary for me, but he did great. I'm hoping to get him out rock climbing this summer. His good friends climb so we'll have company.
Today was Leo's last day of ski lessons. He had an awesome second session, as there were only two kids in the black class. Conditions were slushy and it felt like summer and we were pretty baked. My thighs were pretty dead from leaning back on my skis so I could do the 'water skiing' that you have to do to get through the slush.
They skied every run that was open. Leo was falling asleep in the chair lift so they ended early. But he had a bug up his butt about skiing 20 runs today so he made me stay and do another 4 runs with him. This included two runs on Challenge which was a really nice mogul run today, soft and doable. Usually, it's hard and icy and not fun.
Anyway, here's the video clips.
If you can't see this, go to http://youtu.be/O_009FIzv8c
Teacher was really proud, said these were the two best kids of their age that he's taught. I was really proud, because I have a new ski buddy! He loves trees and bumps - what more could I ask for?
Leo hadn't been reading much lately so I insisted he read something before playing video games. He picked up "Red Fish, Blue Fish" and read the whole book! I didn't realize how long it was - 63 pages, but he managed to persevere (another thing I'm worried about with him is perseverance) and make his way through. I'm really happy he's finally starting to break through on reading. He's been using raz-kids.org and their approach of reading books to earn points to buy space monsters has worked wonders for him.
Leo had to demonstrate a science experiment today in school. He used his fave book The Encyclopedia of Immaturity (thanks, Rebecca!) to select air cannons. He made a couple different sized cannons and we have been having fun with them for the past few weeks. Then we got a smoke machine and discovered the great smoke rings you can make:
If you can't see this go to
It was a huge hit. Best part was that we did not trigger the smoke alarms!