Time Out for Petisco!

Outside Cafe Petisco

Many a Sunday for the past two years, we have “brunched” at Cafe Petisco. Never thought to look for the origin of the word, petisco until now. It’s Portuguese, and it means tidbit or savory. What keeps us going back is that it is YUMMY! πŸ˜‰ They’ve also had such a great waitstaff. Many of them were actors and are no longer working there, but everyone there treats us well from the owners to the cooks. We are SO glad to have a place like that in the neighborhood! Once in a while, we order dinner for take out which is really tasty, too. Some of the food has a mix of Israeli and other middle-eastern foods, which Shien really enjoys.

Brunch is one of my favorites. Most of the time, I order the same thing, and I never tire of it. English Breakfast tea and their breakfast special which is comprised of two eggs over easy or sunny side up, home fries, a bagel substituted for toast, and a small OJ which I give to Malachy. Did I say, “Yummy” already? πŸ˜‰ Malachy usually orders a chicken noodle soup or a continental breakfast. As for Shien, it just depends… πŸ˜‰

For a couple of months, we started going to the public library right after to peruse and borrow some books for Malachy, but budget cuts forced them to close on Sundays. That was a real bummer. Now, after we eat, Shien usually goes to the farmers’ market, while Malachy and I go to the playground and then it’s naptime! πŸ˜‰ There’s nothing like a nice Sunday nap!

Time Out for IQ and High Tea!

High Tea!

Another busy Saturday for Malachy this past weekend. We have been anxiously awaiting his big IQ test. In order to get into some schools in the city, your child has to take an IQ test and score at a certain percentile in order to get to the interview round. So, basically, for this particular school, out of about 1800 children who apply, about 300 or so make it to the interview round, and from there, about 50 students are selected! It’s definitely like striking lottery, along with lots of hope and prayer! If accepted, we wouldn’t have to think about applying to middle school or high school. How awesome that would be! πŸ˜‰ In the meantime, we just applied for the NYC Gifted and Talented program, too, and that happens sometime in January. Wishin’ it wasn’t so complicated to get into Kindergarten!

We psyched him up for this day by calling it an IQ Fun Day, telling him he would get to spend some time with a teacher and show her what he knows and what is going on in his brain. πŸ˜‰ We told him he’d be answering a bunch of fun questions and to just to do his best. And AFTER, he would get to go to High Tea with Mommy at Alice’s Tea Cup! Yay! πŸ˜‰

Shien has always loved HIgh Tea. She took me once, and it was pretty neat. Definitely a bit on the chichi side. πŸ˜‰ I KNEW Malachy would LOVE it. We were often reminded of it because Malachy really enjoyed this book series that we’ve been reading to him, and he often reads them on his own, too. The High Rise Private Eyes series by Cynthia Rylant is filled with charm and wit and humor, starring Jack Jones and Bunny Brown. Each mystery book has 4 Chapters – an intro, the case, the clues, and the solution. One of the books, The Case of the Desperate Duck, took place in a Tea Room and talked about High Tea. This really piqued Malachy’s interest, as it mentioned fancy tablecloths, fancy teapots, sugar cubes, fancy cookies, and fancy sandwiches. YUMMY! So, there was no doubt in our minds that he was ready for High Tea with Mommy. πŸ™‚ Shien told me how he insisted on having cucumber sandwiches. He also saved some of his leftovers with me because he knew how much I loved coconut! I got to try some of the sandwiches and the coconut cookies that they brought home. πŸ˜‰ Shien also told me about how he loved talking to the people eating next to them. They were celebrating a child’s birthday. Afterwards, he quickly took notes on his experience. πŸ˜‰ His constant writing has inspired me to keep writing! Unbelievable! πŸ™‚

So, how did he do on the IQ test? It’s hard asking any child after taking a test how it was and what was asked. I attended a technology conference this Saturday, and I thought it would be better for Shien to take him to it. πŸ˜‰ Shien said he was really good in that he seemed ready to go and went into the test with the psychologist without even looking back at her. She said he was all business. Mr. Poker Face. πŸ˜‰ However he does, we are proud. As with any parent, we just want him getting the best education and most of all, to enjoy his learning. For now, it’s just wait and see…

Time Out for Apples!

I NEVER would have imagined how inspiring apples can be! πŸ˜‰

Although I love living in the City, it’s always nice to get away for a day or a weekend trip Upstate. It’s really nice to take Malachy out of the City too, and let him enjoy the outdoors. πŸ˜‰ It’s amazing how you can drive north for about an hour or so (when there’s no traffic), and you’re “away!” No more city lights. No more city sounds. No more city air. It’s crispy Upstate in the Fall! πŸ˜‰ I love driving up there and seeing all of the foliage changing.

Before Malachy was born, I would often plan a Bed and Breakfast for me and Shien, once a year. We enjoyed walking trails, eating lots of yummy food, and just getting away for a bit. We were so grateful when the host of Sugar Loaf Bed and Breakfast, Maxine Charles, accommodated the three of us in 2008! That was an awesome weekend! πŸ˜‰

It’s so nice to bring Malachy into this tradition, and so far (except for when he was less than one), it looks like he’s really enjoying himself! πŸ˜‰

Time Out for Social Homework!

This past Saturday, I attended the first Tri-State Education Technology Conference (TSETC 2010) at New Milford High School in New Jersey. I found out about it from Lisa Nielsen, who did an awesome job as the Keynote Speaker. She is the author of The Innovative Educator blog and also the Technology Innovation Manager for the Office of Educational Technology at the New York City Department of Education. The conference was great. Most of the workshops demonstrated the “power of technology” in the classrooms and all the wonderful ways that technology can be integrated into instruction and professional development. There was also a whole lot of buzz about Social Media and its role in education. It’s all about connecting, collaborating, creating, and communicating with others. It made me think a whole lot about technology and its role in education.

Technology is often said to be a tool. Whereas most tools have a clear and defined purpose, technology doesn’t. I could be playing video games, and I could say I’m using technology, but is it meaningful? In education, we have to keep asking ourselves if technology is being used in a meaningful way. I feel when we think of technology in education, we picture the computers, interactive whiteboards, projectors, and all the other tech gadgets that are used in schools. Yet, it’s much harder for us to explain exactly HOW the technology is being used or WHY it is being used in classrooms.

This week, like any other week, Malachy got his Pre-K homework. It’s usually given on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays and due the following school day. This Monday, he was given a more unique assignment that’s due at the end of the week. It’s a worksheet from Scholastic, but instead of the typical circling, coloring, cutting, or filling out something, the assignment was to go on a Nature Walk. The instructions were to, “Go for a walk outside. Look for the things on this page. If you see one, circle it. It’s OK if you don’t see them all!” The rain finally gave way, so today, we were able to do the assignment! πŸ˜‰

At first, it was just Malachy and me. I brought a camera because I wanted to document our homework and make it even more interactive. (Extra credit! πŸ˜‰ ) After a few minutes of looking around and searching for the objects, two other kids asked what we were doing and asked if they could help us! They wanted in on this homework and wanted to help Malachy complete his assignment. So, we all walked around our building’s playground/park area, looking for the items. We were pretty sure we wouldn’t find a snail. Also, since there were no pine trees or oak trees in the area, the pine cone and acorn weren’t going to happen either. (Malachy and I did find an acorn later on. Or was it? πŸ˜‰ ) What an awesome assignment this turned out to be!

Malachy’s homework “forced” us to interact with nature and with each other. We didn’t plan on getting outside help (networking!), but how cool was that to have others join in on the fun? This was a light bulb moment for me. To me, this assignment was like a microcosm of Social Media! It involved making connections, communicating, collaborating, and creating a meaningful experience.

It got me thinking about homework and technology and education. Homework shouldn’t be just between the student and a book or piece of paper. Technology shouldn’t be just between the user and a computer or other tech gadget. The goal should be about interacting and connecting with the outside world and with others and creating a meaningful experience. We should have more “nature walk” assignments for students, parents, and communities to work on together. When we learn together, we connect. Social Homework! πŸ˜‰ That’s what it’s all about! πŸ˜‰

This is part of the Tri-State Education Technology Conference (TSETC) Blogger CafΓ© Contest sponsored by edSocialMedia. TSETC is brought to you by Schoology.