Monthly Archives: June 2014

scenes from a weekend (playing tourist at home)

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We frequently take advantage of all the great things this city has to offer – but this past weekend we really packed it in since we had family in town hang out with. We spent a good part of Saturday climbing around the City Museum. The kids and adults loved it – especially all those roof top tunnels in the sky!

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We bought tickets in advance for the Arch – a good plan considering how busy the place was late Saturday afternoon. We watched the movie first, and then we headed on up to the top. I haven’t been up in years, and I had remembered it being more expensive than it really was. Adult tickets are $10 and kids tickets are $5 – not a bad ticket price for such a cool ride.

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In my mind, the movie is the best part – I love watching the construction of the arch, and the filming at the top of all those men walking around not tethered to anything, makes my stomach flip as much as any roller coaster.

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In between adventures, we ate at Mission Taco, Rooster, Snarf’s, Ted Drewes, Strange Donuts, and late Saturday, after our big day out, we grabbed slices at Epic Pizza. It’s not our favorite pizza in the city, but it’s pretty good, and super fast – a great spot to rewind after a long day, restock your tank, and head just a few blocks home to your beds.

We did just that. The giggles and antics from Friday night did not reoccur on Saturday night. Four heads crashed out when they hit the pillows; with another four quick to follow.

Strange Donuts

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rethinking resolutions: june and july update

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Now here’s a funny question. Do they also send extra large, extra bold “FAIL”?

(My sister suggested that maybe it says “TRY AGAIN”.)

(story)time: Tikki Tikki Tembo

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Both my girls often get into reading ruts. Rut actually has a negative connotation, but I don’t really think this sort of nightly repetition is a bad thing. Occasionally it gets a bit predictable and tiresome for the reader, but repetition is a valuable early reading tool, particularly in texts that already have a repetitive structure. Tikki Tikki Tembo, retold by Arlene Mosel and illustrated by Blair Lent, is one of those books.

The story is based on an invented Chinese custom whereby children are named in certain ways based on their birth order. The injustice of this fable is not lost on my own little one. The mother’s first born son is named Tikki Tikki Tembo-no Sa Rembo-chari Bari Ruchi-pip Peri Pembo, which (for the story’s purpose only) means “Most Wonderful Thing in the Whole Wide World”, while the younger son has a monosyllabic name that (unjustly) means “little or nothing”. 

Like fables do, there are lessons to be learned. Each day the children play around a dangerous object (in the case of this story, a well), and despite being warned of the danger by their mother, they fall in. First the younger son takes a tumble, leaving his brother to find help from his fairly nonchalant mother, and then from an older gentleman in the village with a ladder. “Step over step over step over step” the man heads down, and “step over step over step over step” he heads back up with the little boy in his arms.

If you guessed that the young boys did not learn their lesson the first time, you’d be correct. The second slip happens with the older boy, so this time his younger brother is tasked with fetching help. Communicating the dire circumstances of a child with an extremely long name takes much more time, and as a result, precious moments are wasted in his rescue. It’s a close call, but he survives, and the ancient custom of naming firstborn children such elaborate names is revisited. Perhaps brevity (and equality) is the way to go – childhood is complicated enough without the added burden of tongue-twisting birthright issues to overcome.

Regardless of the injustice (and resulting adjustment), Tikki Tikki Tembo is always a hit with kids. It’s so much fun to conquer a difficult string of syllables (like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious), and then repeat them over and over and over again. Night after night after night. Like many things, this is how we learn, and Tikki Tikki Tembo is a good book for just that.

Perfect for kids ages three to seven, and best read aloud. Several nights in a row, if you can…

Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!