Sunday, November 29, 2009

NASA Exploration Center is worth a visit but web site a little outdated

The activity with Mars-like surroundings was supposedly very nice but this was 6 years ago according the to the guide who works in the museum. Today the interactive learning area is rather uninteresting but the NASA Exploration Center is still worth a visit. We visited it with a group of families and even kids who haven't turned 4 yet had a great time there.

in reference to:

"Young people from ages 3 to 6 can 'explore' Mars and take part in Mars-related activities in an area with Mars-like surroundings and soil."
- NASA - INFORMATION (Please call to make reservations for large groups) (view on Google Sidewiki)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Making cheese at home

Avril (who will turn 4 later this year) has been recently very interested in cheese.  At home she tried different kinds of cheese.  Some of them she liked (Brie, Camembert, mozarella) and some she didn't (blue cheese, Swiss cheese) but she was definitely interested in it. And at school the kids have been recently playing the "cheese shop". All this led me to trying to make cheese at home. Avril loved the idea.
As expected there is a lot of online advice on making cheese. Most simple recipes have the same basic idea: heat up milk and add either lemon juice or vinegar and the only special equipment needed is cheese cloth.  Easy enough.  We settled down on the recipe from the Food Wishes blog because I liked the idea of adding buttermilk and seeing both the ingredients list written down and a how-to video was useful.
We bought the cheese cloth at a nearby Bed, Bath and Beyond but you can buy them easily online. This one got good reviews on Amazon.
We bought the three ingredients: whole milk, buttermilk and lemons in a grocery store and we were all set.  Making cheese turned out to be as easy as it sounded and the cheese was very tasty! A few days later, we made cheese following the same recipe at Avril's school.  The children took turns at various parts of the process and then they had cheese for lunch. Teachers and parents tried the cheese too.  I can recommend this as a great activity for children who are 3 and older.
Here's a picture of Avril scooping curds into the cheese cloth:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bilirubin levels in infants

Even hospital staff may misinterpret bilirubin levels in the lab results, so it may be useful to you to read the recommendations in this articls. This article gives excellent graphs (see Figures 2 and Figure 3) for which levels are considered dangerous. Note that how bad the bilirubin level is depends on the age of the infant and on the presence of some risk factors explained next to the charts.
Of course these are only guidelines and your pediatrician should interpret lab results for you but reading this article will let you ask intelligent questions to nurses and doctors.

in reference to:

"All bilirubin levels should be interpreted according to the infant’s age in hours"
- Management of Hyperbilirubinemia in the Newborn Infant 35 or More Weeks of Gestation -- Subcommittee on Hyperbilirubinemia 114 (1): 297 -- AAP Policy (view on Google Sidewiki)

Preschool classes at Dance Connection

My daughter has been attending the "Preschool Combination" class for a few months and she really loves it. The teachers are great and the girls love being in the class.
The class is called "combination" because it part of it teaches tap dance and part of it teaches ballet.
The last class of each month is a "backwards class" that focuses on gymnastics.

in reference to: Dance Connection Palo Alto (view on Google Sidewiki)

"Parent and Tot" classes at the Winter Lodge

"Serious" classes at the Winter Lodge in Palo Alto are for kids who are 4 and older but even younger kids will have fun at the Friday "Parent and Tot" class (provided that the parent can skate well enough to help the child in the class). My daughter took this class with me when she just turned 3 and she had a lot of fun even though at this age she couldn't learn anything too complicated. Both her happiness about ice skating and the fact that she became somewhat confident skating with my support made this class very worthwhile for us.

in reference to: Winter Lodge (view on Google Sidewiki)