Geri’s Game – A Pixar Short Film

As a chess mom, I thought it was fun to introduce my 7yo son who’s participating in a chess camp this summer.

I am currently reading the book “Creativity, Inc” written by Ed Catmill, one of the early folks and current president of Pixar. He talked about how Geri’s Game was given to the director as an assignment to explore how to animate people better. A couple of minutes into the short film, you’ll probably forget that Geri is animated, not a grumpy old man.

Mo Willems Pigeons and Pals

Mo Willems’ characters, Pigeons, Piggie & Elephant, and Edwina, are beloved by children, if mine are any indication.

My friend Janette will be celebrating her daughter’s 4th birthday this weekend. I compiled this book collection to introduce a series of new characters to the birthday girl.

The New York Times Book Review referred to Willem’s pigeon character as “one of this decade’s contributions to the pantheon of great picture book characters”.

The Pigeon is whiny, shortsighted, narcissistic, needy, relentless and nakedly manipulative; in short, the Pigeon is a thinly veiled 4-year-old, drawn by Willems with a sure, simple line and a keen sense, as the pages turn, of comic timing.

The “Edwina” book won a National Parenting Publications Award in 2006.  I read this book to both of my boys and they always giggled when I say the name “Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie”.  Try saying that fast without smiling, I bet you can’t!

When my older son was in kindergarten, his 3rd grade library buddy recommended books to him.  In other words, she introduced “Elephant & Piggie” to our family.  For that, I am forever grateful.  Now my son started to read, we love acting out mini-plays as Gerald the Elephant and Piggie.

If you are not already a Mo Willems fan, check out these books.  You’ll love them.

Whose Feet Are These?

Every morning, my 4yo preschooler howls at dropoff. It’s truly agonizing for a working mom. 

He’s experienced separation anxiety nearly every day in the past couple of months.  Today, I decided to introduce a new routine — read a book on a couch before kissing him goodbye — that I had used with his older brother, who’s now 7.

This morning, we read “Who Feet Are These”.  My son was excited to answer the question and flip each page to show me that he was right.  Obviously, he’s read the book before!  Illustrations were engaging and overall, it was quite a delightful book to add to a child’s collection!

And he was so cheerful after book reading that he held his favorite teacher’s hand and was ready to start his day!  I walked away with the biggest smile on my face. No more working mom guilt, well, for at least one day!

Sneaky Squirrel

Last week, I started playing the Sneaky Squirrel game with my 4yo son.  While the spinner introduces random elements to the game, he seems to win the game all the day.  For once, I see a confidant young boy who can stand up to his soon-to-be-7yo brother.  And it’s a good thing!

The tree shaped box stands up as one of the most clever designs.


Then the squirrel squeezer makes a simple game just that more challenging for a preschooler.


The spinner diagram is simply and containers colors, a snacky squirrel (lose a turn), and a sneaky squirrel (steal an acorn from your neighbor).

As a mom, I enjoy playing a board game where my child exudes confidence!




Budding cartographer

My 4yo boy fell in love with this maps puzzle after playing with his daddy a few times.

GeoPuzzle U.S.A. and Canada – Educational Geography Jigsaw Puzzle is a fantastic way to introduce geography to kids.  It’s so adorable when my son says “Manitoba” in his sweet voice.  Now he knows the Canadian province better than any other states because it’s right in the middle of the puzzle.


I highly recommend it and am looking forward to playing with other versions of the puzzle.

Helping Toddlers Wash Their Hands

Every so often, I come across a product so clever that I would often pat my head and utter, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  Aqueduck faucet extender is one of those ingenious products.  It’s designed to fit on most conventional bathroom faucet.

As toddlers become more independent, they want to wash their own hands.  The biggest challenge is how far setup a faucet is.   My sister got one for my son when he was 2 going on 3.  He’s able to step on a stool and turn on water by himself.  It’s available on Amazon and often is featured by



It’s truly a simple and elegant solution!

How My Son’s Love of Chess “Infected” The Entire Family

When my son entered kindergarten, I didn’t want his afternoons to be idle at after-school care. Instead, I wanted him to be challenged both physically and intellectually. Fortunately, his elementary school had many enrichment programs, so I signed up for chess, along with flag football and LEGO engineering, at school.

“Chess for 5 year olds?“ My husband was quite suspicious when I first proposed it. I consulted a colleague, who was a former school teacher. She told me to always encourage my kids try something new but don’t push them to continue if they don’t like it. I took her advice and began my son’s love affair with chess.

In our home, chess has become a central theme in our day-to-day lives. A typical father-son evening would be spent watching game recaps of the defending champion Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen at the FIDE World Chess Championship in Chennai. My husband, in order to keep up with his constantly-improving son, has to watch chess videos over lunch breaks. On long road trips and late at night, I would solve chess puzzles. The most adorable moment came a few weeks ago when my 6 year-old son started teaching his 3-year-old brother on how different pieces move.

About once every 2 months, my husband takes our son to a tournament to compete with other kids. My son always has a great time where he can spend all day playing chess. I stay home with our younger son and rely on my husband’s iMessages to give me live blog-style updates. No matter if he wins or loses, he runs to his dad after each round with the biggest smile on his face.

I am grateful that my son has found a hobby that will hopefully turn into a lifelong passion. His chess instructor told me that he had the potential to be one of the greats. However, he’s only 6 and doesn’t like to memorize opening theories and jot down his moves, but he has that raw talent we can nurture! I can’t wait to see whether my 3-year-old shares his brother’s passion for the King’s Game.

Kids Music About Science That You’ll Also Love

theymightbegiants_scienceI am a big science geek.  When I was younger, I loved watching NOVA.  Now I am all grown up, I still love NOVA, watch Scientific American Frontiers with Alan Alda, and listen to NPR’s Science Friday.

When looking for music for my kids, I naturally gravitated toward those about science.

Here Comes Science is one of the best music CDs about science, by none other than They Might Be Giants.  I played in the car for the first time for my two boys, they both loved the songs.  With titles like “I Am A Paleontologist” or “How Many Planets”, I was drawn to the music myself.

For those who are fans of the Big Bang Theory, I am certain that you’d agree with me that the theme song by Barenaked Ladies is by far the best song about Science, ever!

Our whole universe was in a hot dense state,
Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started–Wait!
The Earth began to cool,
The autotrophs began to drool,
Neanderthals developed tools,
We built a wall (we built the pyramids),
Math, science, history,
Unraveling the mystery,
That all started with the Big Bang! BANG!

Ladybug Girl And Pinkalicious

Back in college, I chuckled when my psychology professor talked about how she strived to raised her children in a gender-neutral way.  She had a girl and a boy.  One day, her son wanted to go to school with hair clips just like his sister.  Despite gentle discouragement, she wasn’t able to talk her son out of it, so off he went to school with hair clips.  Fortunately other kids thought it was so novel and did not tease him.

Now I have two sons, I found myself in a similar delightful dilemma.  Ever since I downloaded Pinkalicous the Musical to my Honda Odyssey’s hard drive, little E has been asking me to play it whenever we are in the car.  Periodically he’ll shout out, “I love pink”.  Even my kindergartner says, “Mommy, do you know my second favorite color is?  Pink!”

Children’s books really shouldn’t be about the gender of the main character.  It should be the interesting things the characters say or encounter.

I’d like to introduce two book series where the central characters are girls with strong personalities.

Ladybug Girl is about a girl with a red ladybug costume.  With a vivid imagination, she forms a bug squad with playground friends.

Pinkalicious is about a girl who obviously loves the color pink.  In fact, her obsession often leads to trouble, as she turned pink after consuming too many pink cupcakes.

What other young heroine book series do you recommend?