Tickle · the · Pear

gros malin

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As we head toward the 25th, I must report that the Book Advent has overall been a success, at least as far as I can tell given that Baby Z can neither read nor talk.

Though our version does not look like this. The books are kept in an old Barnes & Noble tote with a blue snowflake design, and are pulled out pretty randomly except for Days 1, 24, and 25. If the books are too advanced (for now) text-wise, we just look at the pictures. If a title is popular and is known by multiple versions, I’ve added the author or illustrator. I’ve also tried to include some books with a more international flavor.


1. Little Tree by e.e. cummings (Dragonfly Books) This is one of my favorite poems in the world. Every since I was a kid we would read this once the tree was decorated.
2. 12 Days of Christmas illustrated by Roger Priddy
3. The Polar Express
4. The Nutcracker version by Susan Jeffers
5. Christmas at the Zoo: A Pop-Up Winter Wonderland
6. The Legend of the Poinsettia (Mexico)
7. Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale
8. Carl's Christmas
9. Dream Snow
10. The Gift of the Magi illustrated by P.J. Lynch
11. Snowmen at Christmas
12. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story
13. Angelina's Christmas
14. A Child's Christmas in Wales (Wales)
15. The Story of Holly and Ivy
16. A Christmas Carol illustrated by Brett Helquist
17. The Crippled Lamb
18. Olive, the Other Reindeer
19. Santa Is Coming to Washington
20. The Snowman
21. The Wild Christmas Reindeer (Sweden)
22. Babar and Father Christmas (France)
23. Madeline's Christmas (France)
24. The Night Before Christmas: The Anniversary Edition illustrated by Christian Birmingham
25. My First Story of the First Christmas - one in a series of Mormon classics for kids.
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On Thursday evening I met with colleagues who have become friends for dinner at the Hamilton. I was last there when my cousin and her family visited. This time we took advantage of the happy hour special and I had two logs of sushi and miso soup in a very convivial atmosphere.

On Saturday we went to see the Tiny Tots production of excerpts from "The Nutcracker" and took a closer look at the marionettes afterwards. Then we picked up and decorated our Christmas tree. On Sunday we hung out at home before church, and then that evening we attended the annual holiday sing-a-long at the Atlas Theater. The 4pm performance sold out immediately, and I was a little worried for Baby Z's tolerance level, but he did fine, and there were a number of other under-2's in attendance. I think he especially liked "The Twelve Days of Christmas" where the audience was split into even and odd numbered sides to stand and sit in turns. Afterwards Baby Z had to be peeled away from "talking" to three little girls.

Post-show meet and greet.

We showed off the new, egg-shaped chalk to use on the chalkboard paper on the fridge.

We practiced lacing on a shoebox.

We also worked on colors and fine motor skills with a sorting activity.

And someone did NOT want to sleep.
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So here's what we did otherwise (without photos):

My mom called and said they were OK despite the typhoon.

I attended a public session on language immersion in public schools, though I was more enamored of the moderator, local public radio celebrity Kavitha Cardoza.

I went to a ladies' lunch with grad school friends at the Jefferson Hotel where the restaurant had a little stool for one's purse. Very genteel.

On Saturday, we went all the way to Lorton to see the world premiere of "Snow Day" at the Workhouse Arts Center, a renovated prison. ​Then we returned ​to rainy and gray DC to participate in a photo shoot for the Church featuring interfaith families. We were turned down at the Islamic Center because we hadn't requested authorization in advance, so we went to the Supreme Court instead. Baby Z was a real trooper and continued to smile and pose despite more than two hours in the drizzle.

On Sunday we attended the annual Paskong Pinoy Christmas show. We all prayed for the typhoon victims, and then in a pleasant surprise a Filipino imam also offered an opening prayer.
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when it's cold outside, it's fun to:

talk on the cell phone
cell phone 1

cell phone 2

climb on cushions
cushion steps 1

cushion steps 2

practice with cotton balls
cotton ball activity 1

and play the dishpan guitar.
dishpan guitar
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We checked out the new Harris Teeter in our neighborhood.
harris teeter nov 2014

We visited Santa at National Harbor but the red was Too Much.
Santa 2014

And the Peeps train also disappointed.
peeps train national harbor nov 2014

We went to see the trains at the US Botanical Gardens and took a family photo.
holiday 2014 us botanic gardens

And celebrated the season with the Fil-Am community in the greater DMV.
paskong pinoy 2014 - 1
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As one of the few Mormon-Muslim couples around, we're often asked what religion Baby Z will be raised in. I waver between "I don't know" and "Both." Or perhaps he'll choose neither. In the meantime he's getting exposed regularly to two out of the three Abrahamic faiths. (Maybe he'll marry a nice Jewish girl one day?)

Learning about Mormon the prophet/historian/warrior.
photo (1)

Praying with Tante Souad in Rabat.
praying with souad in rabat aug 2014
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It's not even 9pm but I hear MoBob and Baby Z snoring in unison. Must be the new pillows courtesy of Black Friday at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Last weekend was a good mix of activities. I finally got around to making goo sensory bags.


Then we went to French story time at the Takoma Park library. We hadn't seen Madame Marie since April so it was fun to catch up with her. I originally intended to take Baby Z to EdFest, the big DC public schools fair, but by the time we arrived around noon there was a long line outside and I wasn't keen on standing in the cold with Baby Z without a stroller cover. So instead we visited the very cool imagiNATIONS activity center at the National Museum of the American Indian. There were a lot of kids already playing in the foam igloo so we stuck to the model kayak. (love the two ladies giggling in the background)


That evening we had dinner with MB's supper club from work. We brought a lot of gear to ensure that Baby Z's visit was the least disruptive as possible, including a mat to cover the floor. He did well, and eventually conked out on the guest bed. Baby Z wasn't as keen on joining nursery again at church, so he entertained himself during the meetings.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with an Exponent friend and her family, after watching the parade and dog show on TV. The kids all invited folks so we had a potluck dinner at the Institute of Religion (center for LDS students) at the University of Maryland. Besides having plenty of room to eat and hang out, there was a lot of space for the assortment of kidlets, though sadly no diaper changing facility.

Where is Mommy's matching outfit?!
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It was 37 degrees today, then it will be 73 on Monday. At least today I was working from home, without my cubicle neighbor the climate change expert to provide dour commentary on the daily forecast.

I didn't see much of Arusha during my week there, because of our intense schedule and my cold. I snuck out to Cultural Heritage but I did not see Mt. Kilimanjaro.

lovely Mt. Meru
mt. meru tanzania nov. 2014 (1)

What, you may be wondering, did I enjoy watching on KLM? Stricken, which made me cry; All is Love which truly was a Dutch "Love, Actually" except that I was a little perturbed by the character of Black Peter; and a French film, Serial Bad Weddings which was a hilarious view of immigrant France vs. traditional France.

Baby Z was one of two little boys when we visited a ballet class. Afterwards we had lunch at Le Pain Q and visited the Fairy Godmother toy shop, and then ended with Elsa ice-skating at Canal Park.

He got into it later.
ballet class Nov 2014

Not so impressed with Frozen royalty.
2014-11-15 13.10.13
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I leave this evening for Amsterdam and then Kilimanjaro. My flight leaves at 6pm from Dulles so I reserved a taxi since it would be difficult for MoBob to extract himself from the office, even on a Friday afternoon. This week was CFC kick-off, and during all the activities he won a gift card and a free night of babysitting. The gift card was for answering correctly during a trivia contest, "Who is becomes president after the VP?" Fortunately he remembered the response from his citizenship exam (the speaker of the house).

Last night I spoke at a professional event for people interested in careers in gender and development. It was a huge turnout and people were wait-listed. How different from my own experience in the 1990s, when I started our Peace Corps/CM GAD committee, and I had to design an independent study because SAIS didn't offer courses in GAD.

I've been going to physical therapy for my knee and it's helped a lot. My exercise options are limited to swimming or cycling. There is a private indoor pool nearby but I think I might just use the stationary bike at the gym at work or in our coop. My PT is an intimidatingly athletic young blonde woman. Surprisingly the strengthening exercises are all ones I'm familiar with from years of stretching and aerobics classes. Really the advantage is the PT massaging my knee.

I also got a referral for a nutritionist. I saw one early in pregnancy but she didn't take insurance and I didn't want to deal with yet an other administrative headache. I do know how to eat healthily - I just don't like it. For example, salads. I find that the bags of salads from the grocery store, even the smaller quantities, go bad before I can finish them. But buying individual servings from places like Au Bon Pain is also expensive. I try at least to get in the requisite five servings a day. Travel doesn't help either. Blergh.
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