Making sushi

March 22nd, 2017

To cap off their unit on Japan, Avery’s class made sushi. It was our first day back from the trip, and Avery was exhausted – but she had enough energy to assemble and eat!


Airport adventures

March 21st, 2017

Like the last time I flew alone with the girls (last summer), the three of us had some travel troubles: Because of a cancelled Madison-to-Denver flight, we wound up having a 14-hour travel day. It was a tough day but three things made it better: 1) Q, who was in Michigan with a client, helped from afar by booking us on later flights (if he hadn’t, we likely wouldn’t have gotten home until the next day); 2) The girls were unfazed by our difficulties getting home; and 3) My mom came back to the airport to play games and keep us company. “This is so much fun!” Avery said during what I think was Hour Three at the airport. And, later: “Just think, if we hadn’t gotten delayed we wouldn’t have been able to see Grandma again!” I love her positivity.



March 20th, 2017

As mentioned, lefse was one of my favorite foods growing up. Making it is a laborious and time-consuming process, so I’ve never attempted it – and I was so happy when my mom suggested we make some during this trip. We spent one whole morning in the kitchen, and I loved that the girls got to watch their grandma make it, just as I watched mine when I was a kid. Even better, they seemed to like lefse as much as I do!


Quick trip to Madison

March 19th, 2017

My parents didn’t think they could make their annual spring trip to San Francisco this year, so we went to them instead. It was a quick trip – only three full days there – but we packed a lot in. And a real highlight was the whole family making lefse, one of my favorite treats from childhood.


Purim fun

March 17th, 2017

Speaking of holidays, while I was sick the girls were busy celebrating Purim. It’s a big deal at their school: There was a family game event one night, a school-wide celebration another day, and a variety of other activities throughout the week. They also got to dress up (Avery was Queen Esther), and the second graders, in particular, seemed to really enjoy themselves.



Avery’s love for trees

March 17th, 2017

They may have been on her mind because of the recent Tu B’Shevat holiday but the other day, quite out of the blue, Avery mentioned how much she loves trees. “They do so much for us,” she told me, before asking aloud, “What can we do for them?” She thought for a minute and then suggested, “Maybe we should write on a piece of paper, ‘I love you’ and tape it on one of them. They’re just so sweet…”

Oh, Avery.


Where we’ve been (again)

March 16th, 2017

There’s been a lot going here lately, and once again I went silent on the blog for far longer than I intended (or wanted)! A few days after Avery got sick, I got the sniffles, which turned into something much worse: I wound up in bed for much of last week with a flu-like virus. The four of us then headed to Madison to visit my parents last weekend, and a cancelled flight and 14-hour travel day (why have we had so much bad luck with flying lately?) left us all very tired this week. Luckily (knock on wood) we’re all better and back to our routine — and I’ll have more photos and stories to share soon.


Open house: Zoe’s class (all about sleep)

March 5th, 2017

At Open House each year the fourth-graders have a Health Fair, during which they display the work they’ve done on their health-related topic. Zoe chose sleep, and she spent much of the last month doing research and putting together a presentation. (I even hooked her up with a sleep doctor I work with at Stanford; he was nice enough to do a 15-minute phone interview with her after school one day.) Included on Zoe’s presentation was her Q&A with the doctor, a summary of the amount of sleep people need (did you know 75% of teens don’t get enough sleep?) a breakdown of the stages of sleep, a description of some common sleep disorders, and lots of photos. When I asked Zoe just now her favorite part of the project, she told me, “I enjoyed researching because there were a lot of interesting facts. I also liked presenting and teaching people about sleep.”


Open house: Avery’s class

March 4th, 2017

Open House is a big deal at the girls’ school, with each classroom displaying the kids’ many post-winter break projects across subjects. In Avery’s class, we heard about the work the kids have done in their Japan unit, watched them read their haikus (also done as part of the Japan work), saw their Henri Rousseau-inspired artwork, and read Avery’s Hebrew essay on her good friend Mila. (Mila showed her mom her essay on Avery at the same time, which made it even cooler.)


Learning about Jews of the world

March 3rd, 2017

Zoe and her classmates have been working on two major projects since the break: the health project (as mentioned below) and a project on Jews of the World. For the latter, Zoe picked a country (Scotland), researched and wrote a report on the Jewish community there, and presented her work (and offered a Scottish Jewish treat that she made) at a parent event on Wed. morning. She and two friends explain more in the video below.


Fun while sick

February 28th, 2017

Avery was sick (again!) today, but – thanks to Zoe – she had a good day at home. Before she left for school, Zoe made a schedule of activities for her sister, printed out three packets with worksheets (math, writing, puzzles, etc). and left a sweet note (below). While Avery was working on one of the packets, she told me, “This is the best day ever.”


Dr. Zoe

February 23rd, 2017

For the last few weeks at school, Zoe has been hard at work on a health unit — and as part of it, she and her classmates got to play ER doctor for a day. (She’s examining a mom-patient below.) From our school’s newsletter:

“The students started the year exploring electricity and magnetism,” says teacher David Starfas. “They were then introduced to the concept of circuits and systems. Using this background knowledge of electrical systems, we moved into studying the systems of the body.” As they prepare for their Health Fair… fourth graders welcomed special guest (and Brandeis parent) Mary Fox, an ER physician, to give the students a taste of what an ER doctor does. Parents posed as “patients” needing neurologic, cardiac, pulmonary, or extremity exams. The students—or in this case, “doctors”—were tasked with formulating diagnoses by ordering some basic tests: CAT scan of the brain, EKG, chest X-ray, and X-ray of the extremities.

Adds Mr. Starfas, “Mary gave us a great introduction to what she does in the emergency room and how to diagnose a patient.”



February 20th, 2017

Speaking of friendship, we hung out with some good friends over the long holiday weekend — and I just love this photo of Avery and Olivia…


A focus on friendship

February 19th, 2017

Avery has been working on a friendship unit in Jewish studies, and she was paired up on a project with one of her good friends, Mila. As described in the school newsletter:

In class, students learn the Golden Rule from Leviticus, Ch.19.18: V’ahavta l’reacha kamocha, / “Treat your friend the way you would like to be treated.”  Said Judaic studies teacher Orit Solomon, “Both Rabbi Akivah and Rabbi Hillel taught this Golden Rule of life and friendship. Students learn that when they treat others the way they would like to be treated, more friendship opportunities are open for them.”

The students have made a visual and tactile reminder for themselves, by writing the Golden Rule on a Hamsa and decorating it. Shaped like the palm of a hand, the Hamsa has been used for centuries as an amulet of protection, and it is known in Jewish lore as the “Hand of Miriam.” In ancient Middle Eastern belief, the Hamsa represents God’s protective hand. “Writing the Golden Rule on the Hamsa,” said Ms. Solomon, “will remind the students to always adhere to the rabbis’ words of wisdom, always treasure and take good care of a true friend, and always know they are protected and loved.”


Zoe’s self portrait

February 17th, 2017

…Made in art class.