30 January 2009


Alert readers might remember Trinhity's original School Pictures, and they won't be surprised that we opted for retakes. Then again...

The Girly Bot

Trinhity's little brother received a really sweet birthday gift last week: a couple t-shirts featuring hand-doodled robots, plus an imprinted book bag, courtesy of Cafe Press.

The artist is a friend, Joanna. Check out her stuff here.

Her 'bots have inspired Trinh to new artistic heights. Today she took a few minutes out of her usual retinue of Kung Fu Panda images and valentines and greeting cards to rip out this version of Joanna's girly bot...

27 January 2009

The Woods Private School

Trinhity has been attending The Woods Private School since late August. She attends Tuesdays & Thursdays from 9AM-1PM. We searched high and low for a preschool and were thrilled when we discovered this gem. This was Trinhity's first time away from family. Ever. We knew that she would be dealing with separation anxiety but we also knew that given her intellect & focus, she would love school.
The first month and a half was really tough. In the mornings, Daddy would hand over a terrified, SCREAMING child, while Mama would pick up a tear-streaked, terrified child in the afternoons. The entire staff worked with us to make Trinhity's adjustment easier. We took her to the school for a few visits during the summer just to get her used to the place. We were advised to read The Kissing Hand book before school started which is about a little raccoon who was afraid to leave his mommy when school started. We were asked to drop her off about 30minutes late so that the staff would be free from the morning bustle to focus on Trinhity. We handed her over each time to a dedicated staff member (bless you Mrs. Taylor!!) who tried to soothe her by holding her, singing to her, walking her, and caring for her. The teacher moved the class lunch time up so that Trinhity could have lunch with her classmates. We were asked to pick her up after lunch time. The idea is that we pick her up when she is happy and not screaming. We were amazed and impressed by the great care our child received at this school. We were so happy the day that she woke up excited that it was a school day!

Why do we like the school? It is an academic-based preschool and not a daycare. She is learning her letters, numbers, as well as important social skills. The school has a dedicated and creative staff and there is such amazing energy about the place. The staff members are all moms & grandmas and they treat our kids like one of their own. It's nice.

Their curriculum rocks. Example? On November 4th, there was an election. The elephant and the donkey campaigned for president of the zoo. The elephant won this year. How cute is that? Our little girl got to vote! There are 9 students in the class. Despite the fact that the school is tucked away in an upper-middle class subdivision behind HP, it is remarkably diverse. She is not the only Asian child, nor is she the only child of mixed ethnicity. Last month, there was a presentation on the meaning of Hanukkah by one of her classmate's parents. Again, how cool is that?

The school also celebrates all of the holidays in style. During Halloween, the 3's program had a pumpkin patch as well as a costume party in which the parents were invited. So of course, we all came!
Trinhity's class
Daddy came and read stories to the classes.
our little indian during Thanksgiving feast

of course, our indian eats seaweed...

10 January 2009

The Christmas Chimera

One of the things I love most about interacting with Trinhity is how the stories we read and the things we do become commingled. In the process, she creates new storylines with twists that are stunningly imaginative, always logical (though often with entirely reasonable progressions that I'd never have figured myself), and frequently unexpected.

Most of this comes with a smattering of Vietnamese if she's talking to me; the smattering is of English if she's talking with the Mama-san. I like to think of her creations as a rich tapestry of oral folklore that -- and this is no small thing -- are almost completely novel and unique. Given how much has been said and written by humanity over the eons, I consider it a profound privilege to witness such creativity firsthand.

Tonight I actually caught some of this on video. Earlier the Mama-san had folded and stapled scratch paper into a book format, and Trinh promptly drew a story. She 'read' it for the camera tonight.

May we present to you an entirely new story featuring members of our family, several mythological personages, and a bunny: The Christmas Chimera.

A few words of explanation. Tài Tài is, of course, Taison...Trinh's little brother. You've probably heard of Santa Claus and Rudolph, but do note that Rudolph's famous red nose appears clearly in her drawing.

She also refers to the "Chimera". She's talking about the fearsome monster of Greek mythology that features the head of a lion, the body of a goat and a snake for a tail. This creature, rather improbably, turns into a bunny on her last page.

Apologies for fumbling the camera on the zoom into the bunny, but I thought it really rocked and wanted a close-up. That last Chimera-cum-bunny bit she stole from a sweet book we've been reading, The Dog Prince, but the carrots were her own touch. Her first (off-camera) telling of this story brought in Sinbad, since his ship (at least in the animated movie) is called Chimera.

See, she's got all the pieces: Homer, Sinbad, Aladdin, the 1001 Nights, Scheherazade (she can actually say it, terribly cute), even Rimsky-Korsakov. She just doesn't know it yet. Perhaps someday she will. But really, does she even need to?

I mean, sure, someday maybe she'll be able to read Borges and actually understand it, perhaps while listening to Piazzolla with a well-worn copy of Orthodoxy on the shelf and a whiff of Narnia in the air. Maybe not. It took me literally decades to grasp (in my own plodding way) just a few of the connections between those points of light. That she can tie together some of these threads at age three is wonderful, but that's not what gets me.

No, what gets me is the how she's able to whip what she absorbs into innovative new forms. I can't do that; not like she does. I'm not sure I ever could.

Anybody who dismisses 'kid stuff' as "unimportant" low quality drivel didn't really listen. For my part, the child astounds me, fascinates me.

I am proud. I am humbled. I love being Daddy-oi.

08 January 2009

Misfits for the Letter Bucket

On Tuesday this week Trinhity got to take the "Letter Bucket" home from school. The idea is to fill the bucket with common objects that start with The Letter of the Week, then bring the bucket back on Thursday for a show-and-tell session.

This week's letter was "M". She peppered us with questions about all her favorite toys: "Daddy, does "penguin" start with 'M'? How about Gloria?" She knows better, so it was actually sorta funny.

Unfortunately, it's Friday now and I still haven't been able to stop thinking of "M" words and considering them as ideas for her Letter Bucket. It's almost a stream-of-consciousness flow, and it's mildly embarassing. I wish it would stop.

I haven't admitted this affliction to the Mama-san. You see, most of my ideas are, after a moment's reflection, heroically bad. If I gave voice to the flow, it would probably sound like I was seriously suggesting them. That would surely earn me one of those 'you're such a silly boy' looks, so Mum's the word.

I'm going to risk it here on the blog, though. Here are a few of the "M" words that actually occured to me as things my child could carry to school in a plastic bucket...

Couldn't help it, it just popped out there. Then I got this image of my adorable 3-year old princess packing a blade that's almost as tall as she is, probably with a wicked grin...

Good idea, except it would be a choking hazard for the Mancub.

No, no, no...he won't fit in the bucket. And if he did, she couldn't carry him. Plus, he'd cut himself on the machete and swallow the marble...

Mold / Mildew
I'm not making this stuff up. I was reading our flood insurance last night, and these jumped out at me. Isn't it bad enough that we're sending her to school toting copious amounts of seaweed?

It figures that this would follow the previous two. Lord, make it stop...

I'd just dismissed the fungi when this one conjured itself up from nowhere. I need more sleep. I really do.

MAKE IT STOP. Seriously, people.

Machiavelli's The Prince
Believe it or not, this one got halfway serious consideration. She knows all about Princes and Princesses, of course, but she's never read this book -- not enough cool pictures, ya know. Heaven help the parents of any preschool child who has 'read' it.

Then again, I thought, what game could be more Machiavellian than parenting? Who better understands the love / fear equation than a child?

Mother Mary, muster up some mercy for me...