Archive for July, 2011


July 18th, 2011

Meet Rango, our 12 hour pet. He wasn't in our household for long, but we certainly enjoyed the unexpected company while it lasted.


One morning in my garage, I saw a brown lump on Olivia's stroller. Upon closer inspection, I was startled for a second to recognize it as a Jackson's Chameleon. It was about three inches long (with tail curled up, not extended) and, as chameleons go, pretty mellow.

Rango on stroller

Rango on stroller

I pointed it out to Olivia. She shrieked and backed away. Such a girl.

"He's cute. Let's think about adopting him," I insisted, and enlisted my neighbor Dennis' help in bottling up the lizard for me. I had to keep my schedule to get Olivia to school and me to work on time. I have always enjoyed (most) critters large and small, and would have loved to have been a veterinarian.

When I got home, we brought the lizard inside to play with. First things first: a name. I read Jackson's Chameleon are originally from Kenya, so we considered Barry Senior, but ultimately, 'Rango' won because it has half the syllables and double the whimsy. Rango is a chameleon in an animated movie by Gore Verbinski.

I also learned the juveniles are brown, turning green only when mature. Since I had the computer on, we decided to show Rango YouTube videos of adult chameleons, so he would know what he'll look like when he grows up. That led to videos of crickets, so he'll know what his prey looks like up close. He seemed to perk up at the chirping sound.

Naturally, one can't go on YouTube without paying homage to a popular search term, cats. Therefore, Rango got an education on feline behavior: cats fighting, cats playing, kittens eating. If he's going to be part of a household, he needs to know about this well-loved domestic animal.

We gave him a tour of the house. The dog sniffed at him, her nose almost the size of the entire chameleon, and walked away. As he did not smell like bacon or act like a tennis ball, Inca quickly lost interest.

Ocho, however, was a different story. She was extremely taken with this oversized gecko and tried to demonstrate her hospitality by opening her mouth and putting him inside. This did not go over well with him. Olivia and I quickly concluded that portion of the house tour.

Ocho meets Rango

Ocho meets Rango

We sat at the kitchen table and looked at him on his stick. He's really cute in an ugly way. I like his prehensile curly tail and his didactyl feet. I like the way his tri-horns make him look like a dinosaur. I think his separately mobile eyes are funny.

I grinned at him, and his stereoscopic eye probably interpreted my teeth as predatory; he leaned slightly away from me and, as much as a chameleon can register expression, looked unnerved.

With my finger, I gently petted his back and sides, letting Olivia copy me afterwards. Rango tolerated this, but was probably confused at all this touching. He really didn't care for his tail being touched and actually stood up and walked away.

"I like him too, Mommy. Can we keep him?" Olivia asked. I had, by now, figured out Jackson's Chameleon eat live crickets.  I don' t have time to regularly go to the pet store to buy crickets. A conversation with my co-worker, Ms. Galves, cemented my decision to give him away. In her chameleon-rearing history, Ms. Galves found crickets expensive and difficult to keep.

I know my neighbor a few houses away has a cage with her own chameleons, and she offered to take ours. "Let's let him live with his chameleon friends at Aunty Joann's house, OK? Then he won't be lonely, and we can still visit him all we want," I said.

Story time for Rango

Story time for Rango

Olivia remembered she had a bug book and wanted to read it to him, so he could consider expanding his culinary repetoire. Rango had story time before moving into his new digs.

"It's getting late. Let's move Rango into his new house," I prodded. We walked over together, Olivia holding the jar.

When we got there, Olivia smooched the air above Rango. "I gave him a kiss, Mommy. How can I give him a hug?"

"That's very nice, Sweetie," I answered, amused. "Don't really put your lips on him, OK? He might have weird lizard germs. You can give him an air hug. Just hug the air above him."

My kid encircled the space just above Rango with her arms. "Air hug, Rango! We'll miss you!"

Rango's new home

Rango's new home

With that, we lowered him into his new cage and went home. He was a really fun distraction, but I think he'll be happier at Joann's house.

In the meantime, I'm now motivated to rent Rango, which we have never watched. I'll have to remember to bring our Rango back over when we have movie night, so he can look at his namesake.


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July 15th, 2011

This blog is dedicated to Ms. Cundy, Ms. Powers, Ms. Lindblom, and Mr. Beardsley.

Since my daughter was two, I've been talking about grammar to her. It started with the Olivia the Pig book series. There's a page with all kinds of musical sounds (ping, plink, strummmm, doing) and as I was reading it to her, it occurred to me. "Olivia," I said, "I'd like to teach you something. Words that are spelled like they sound are called onomatopoeia." She doesn't even know how to spell but I remind her of onomatopoeia every time we read that page.

At preschool, they were discussing rhyming. She is working on that concept. "Peppers and Popo! That's a rhyme, right?" she exclaimed.

"No, Hon. That's alliteration. Alliteration is words that start with the same sound: peppers and Popo," I corrected. I also tried to explain what rhyming is.

She thought about this lesson for a few days and one evening, while playing with her stuffed penguin, something occurred to her. "Mommy, pingvin and vin! Is that alliteration?"

I should pause here to explain that we are a multi-lingual household. After four years of this immersion program, like it or not, I've picked up some Danish. Pingvin is penguin; vin is wine.

"No, Sweetie. That's a great observation but it has to be the first sound of a word. Like, packing pink pajamas," I offered. I used the packing theme because we were preparing to go to my parents' for the night.

She thought about that for a minute and then - she got it! "Silly sleepover?" she asked. "Is that alliteration?"

"Yes! I'm so proud of you!" I enthused, and hugged her.

We danced around the room yelling out more alliterative phrases. She is now ready to intern with a news producer. Have you ever noticed all the show headlines and catchy phrases are alliterative?

My husband rolled his eyes. He finds grammar as boring as I find a balance sheet. A long time ago, after it came up in conversation, I tried to teach him some basic grammar, like, active verb, passive verb, prepositional phrase, etc. He cannot be bothered, the same way I cannot be bothered to want to understand higher mathematics or accounting.

However, doing things for his daughter is different than doing things for his wife. "Great. Thanks to you, I'll now have to actually figure out grammar so I can participate in these conversations."

So the four year old has alliteration figured out. If only her dad could get it.


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There's always room for Jell-o!

July 13th, 2011

Firstly, let me say I cannot believe I spent a Friday night researching the history of savory Jell-o cuisine in America. But, Husband is ill and Kid is at her grandparents' for the night, so I'm home with some rare time on my hands. Since I became a mom, I can count on one hand all the instances in which I've had time to kill. It's so refreshing and yet so foreign to me now!


When I was growing up in the 70's, my mom made a lot of Jell-o. My favorite gelatin treat was rainbow jello. I nagged her all the time to make it.

Probably sometime in high school or college, she stopped making it, and I stopped loving Jell-o. It just became a not-cool thing to eat, especially when I had a choice of ice cream, cake, or some other more fattening dessert. Pretty soon, I forgot all about her well-loved layered Jell-o. I wouldn't even feel like eating Jell-o served at parties.

JelloRecipeSInk Swim

Since I became a mother, I've been reconnecting with the simple pleasures of youth. I've blogged before on my desire to make fancy cakes, or food shaped like animals. Recently, I became reacquainted with Jell-o, and I remembered how much I liked it. One weekend, I let Olivia help me make a box of it.

We had a good time making and eating that, and that's when I remembered the rainbow jello. I mentioned it to Super Neighbor Vicki that I wanted a recipe for that. Before I even had a chance to ask my mom, Vicki had dug up some old recipe books and brought them over.


One is from 1977. The other is undated, but it may be even older. It sells recipe books for just 25 cents+any 6 fruit illustrations from Jell-o packages, if that gives you any idea. With the advent of the internet, I forgot companies actually used to sell recipe books via the postal service.

As Olivia and I sat down to look at the books and ooh and aah over the "silly" and "funny" pictures, while picking out which to make, I came across a startling section: savory jello recipes. There are recipes for Vegetables in Sour Cream, Cauliflower Radish Salad, Tangy Cabbage Salad, and the like. In one photo, shrimp are placed atop.

Sea Dream and Vegetable Trio

Sea Dream and Vegetable Trio

Salad recipes

Salad recipes

I am kind of grossed out. I always think of Jell-o as a sweet dessert. "That was a big thing in the Midwest in the 60's," posits my friend Jen, knower of most all things, particularly anything food-related.

Is this so? I couldn't find much on a cursory search, but I can accept Jen's answer as the probable truth. She is, you know, super smart.

I will tell you that I was surprised:

-to remember that gelatin is a protein produced from collagen extracted from the boiled bones, connective tissues, and intestines of animals;

-to learn that Green Jell-O was declared the "Official State Snack" of Utah;

-to read that a bowl of wiggly Jell-O has brain waves identical to those of adult men and women. That would explain the behavior of some people I've encountered before...

I also came across a very cool website dedicated to Jell-o, which makes the gelatin dessert pretty trendy-seeming:

I still look forward to making my rainbow Jell-o - and now, some gelatin-suspended fruit cups!


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July 11th, 2011

"Haircut" in the title refers to cutting the pet's hair, not humans, apparently. Olivia has a really cute pair of blunt-tip childrens scissors, and loves to practice cutting. We give her all kinds of things to practice on: Costco coupon booklet, fashion magazines, Longs ads. We always supervise it.

Being able to use scissors helps develop fine motor skills. For safety, we reinforce that she needs to cut with an adult present, and if she walks around with it, we taught her to hold her hand around the closed blades.

Click this link to read a really interesting, detailed guide I found on the internet.

I was sitting at the table one afternoon last week when Olivia said she wanted to go on the lanai and play with the cat. I saw her sort of walking after Ocho, who was half dodging the kid and half with her tail up in the friendly "pet me" position. I think the cat has a love-hate relationship with Olivia.

Cell photos 189

Something reddish caught my eye so I looked closer. "What are you doing?" I asked my daughter.

"I'm just giving the cat a haircut. It's so long and messy," she answered. The reddish thing was the orange/red handle of the scissors.


She's aping me on the "messy" part, as I tell her in the morning I need to brush her hair, it's a mess. I haven't threatened a haircut for over a year. As for why she thinks the cat's hair is long is beyond me, as we have a shorthair breed.

I walked outside and sure enough, there were little tufts of cat hair snipped off and floating around in the light breeze.

Tufts of cat hair

Tufts of cat hair

"No, no, no," I told Olivia, "Don't ever cut Ocho's hair. You might cut her skin and that will hurt her. And remember that you have to tell an adult you're going to use scissors."

"OK, Mama," she replied obediently, and went inside.

The cat has little rat bite-looking chunks missing in its fur now. It's actually pretty funny.

I'm surprised the cat doesn't run far, far away from this house. Any household pet is sure to get put through their paces when there's a small child or children in the house.

What has your child done to your pets?

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"Families of the World" Film Festival

July 8th, 2011

In advance of the APEC summit in Honolulu in November, and part of its summer theme of Advancing Asia-Pacific, the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa Outreach College presents the FAMILIES OF THE WORLD Film Festival on Sunday, July 24, 2011.
A total of six films from the award-winning series - from Korea, Australia, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand and China -  will be shown in the the two-part, morning and afternoon festival in the UHM School of Architecture Auditorium, Room 205. The festival is suitable for the entire family from age 5 and above, and is FREE of charge.  Seating is limited.  For information, visit or call 956-9883.

Winner of over 20 national awards, the acclaimed Families of the World film series is presented in cooperation with Master-Communications and KIDS FIRST! Film Festival. Each 30-minute film takes viewers on a journey to a country in Asia-Pacific to spend a day in the lives of two families. Narrated by children, from a child's perspective, the films focus on a different culture, way of life, housing, education, food, clothing and celebrations.  Visit the countryside, cities, communities, schools and homes of two unique children - from breakfast to bedtime and all their activities in between.

Morning Program, 10:00am – 11:30am, 90 minutes:
Families of Korea • Australia • Vietnam

Afternoon Program, 1:00pm – 2:30pm, 90 minutes:
Families of Japan • Thailand • China

Special offer July 24 only:

Present your Families of the World Film Festival ticket stub at Yogurtland (University and Metcalf) for a 20% discount!

Detailed breakdown on:

Morning Program, 10:00am – 11:30am, 90 minutes
Families of Korea
Heejin lives in 600-year-old HaHoe village and is learning the village’s ancient mask dance that’s performed for visitors all summer long. Join Heejin and her father as they visit the local market and stop at a rice paper factory to buy gift-wrapping for her grandmother’s birthday. There we see how paper is hand-made.

Follow 9-year-old Kitae in Seoul, the capital of Korea, through a busy day in school and at his many after-school activities. Ki tae’s mother shops in the neighborhood open market and supermarket. Watch Kitae’s aunt and his mother make a special dinner and follow his father to the factory that he manages.

Families of Australia

Visit 8-year-old Phoebe on her family's farm near Attunga, a town northwest of Sydney, as she gathers eggs for breakfast, rounds up sheep, enjoys Sports Day at school and takes a violin lesson after school.
Seven-year-old Josh lives in Sydney, Australia’s largest city. Follow Josh as he takes care of the pet chickens, goes to school, visits his grandparents and makes a chain of volcanoes from an egg carton.

Families of Vietnam

In Ho Chi Minh City, 9-year-old Li Thi Thanh Hong goes to school where she studies French, art and reading and plays games with friends. After school the family enjoys bowling, then Hong does her homework. The next day Hong enjoys swimming at the community pool and the Vietnamese New Year Tet festivities, including the dragon dancing and fireworks.

In Vietnam, Anh Thu lives by the Mekong River with her family. She attends school and enjoys spending time with her friends and older brother. Her parents work on their banana and papaya plantation in the morning, then set off on their “boat store,” selling groceries to customers out on the river.

Afternoon Program, 1:00pm – 2:30pm, 90 minutes

Families of Japan

Nine-year-old Seichi lives on a farm near Furukawa, Japan. His family has raised rice there for 14 generations. Seichi and his sisters help feed the rabbits and chickens, watch TV, and go to their cousin’s engagement party. We see the schoolteachers and children prepare for Sports Day and watch Seichi and his family enjoy the special holiday.

Eight-year-old Ayako lives in Sendai, Japan. Ayako loves to climb trees, play her piano (which can be silenced so that it can only be heard through earphones), and go to calligraphy lessons. We follow Ayako and her mother as they go grocery shopping.
Families of Thailand

This program takes us to Bangkok to follow 10-year-old Rakkiaet and his family, who live and work on a canal. Rakkiaet goes to school by boat, his brother runs a water taxi, his mother does her shopping at the floating market, and his father sells food from his boat to families along the canal. Buddhist monks visit the family’s dock each day before dawn to accept food the family has prepared for them.

We also visit 7-year-old Akeem in a community of Sea Gypsies on Thailand’s southern coast. We see Akeem’s mother caring for her newborn infant, follow Akeem to school, and go fishing with Akeem’s father, who catches tropical fish for export.

Families of China

Kun’s mother and father grow bonsai in the mountains around their village near Ningbo. We follow Kun as he walks a half-hour to his school, watch the cook steam lunches the students have brought from home, see how Kun’s father trains bonsai plants, visit the village’s open market with Kun’s mother and watch her prepare a meal for the family and Kun’s grandparents.

Nine-year-old Qinbo and her family live in Ningbo, a port city in China. We see Qinbo’s father prepare breakfast and bike to work, follow her mother to work on a motor bike, and go to school with Qinbo on a public bus. We take a peek at students’ after-school activities.

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