Sunday, July 31, 2011

Top 5 Childrens Books

#1 - Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Obvious one.  I can recite this book backwards.  My kids can recite this book backwards.  And yet we still love reading it together.  There is something quietly soul-soothing about saying goodnight to noises everywhere.

#2 - Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Part of what bounds me to this book is my earliest memories of picking blueberries with my mother in Washington.  And then remembering my parents looking through this book with me.  My kids are wild about the bear mix up and the delicious cravings they get for blueberries. 

#3 - Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Our family has a tender spot in our heart for the Boston Public Gardens. It's difficult to go wrong when you're reading about baby ducks and the feeding of ducks with little kids.

#4 - An Apple To Eat or Cross The Street by Sam Q. Weissman

Not a lot of people know about this one. It delights my children constantly. I'll bet you didn't know a banana can be a sleeping bag, and a spoon can be a school of tadpoles.

#5 - A Special Day For Mommy by Dan Andreasen

My kids can't figure out why Mom laughs so hard every time we read the story together. One day, they'll get it. 

Runner Up

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audrey Wood

Want to make your kids laugh non-stop??  When you get to the page where the strawberry is wearing the Groucho Marx glasses, pretend you can't find the strawberry.  No matter how much evidence they give you, insist that it's a person at the table - not a berry. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pretty Girl and Marriage

We run a house full of testosterone - with occasional slivers of estrogen poisoning. So conversations about dream weddings and handsome princes are rare.

The boys understand the basics. Someday they will get married...after their mission, in a temple, with a girl, etc. etc.

That's enough for now.

Because girls are "girly" and they ride bikes too slow.

(except Mom...)

So when the subject of marriage was brought up last week, Pretty Girl's face went deathly pale. Not only will she marry someday, but she must marry....a boy??

A her brothers.

Oh, the horror!

She crossed her arms and declared her eternal spinsterhood. When I explained all the fun things that happen in marriage and families she relented and compromised with the only person she would ever think of spending the rest of her life with.


Favorite girl cousin, Lucy.

We're not going to push this topic for awhile.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

13 Years

(My sweet husband - you get Homer this year.)

One of my favorite books is Homer's The Odyssey. The scene I adore most comes at the end - when Odysseus arrives home to a house full of immoral, evil men trying to take his clever wife Penelope. He comes back disguised as an old man in rags.

Then comes the bow.

Penelope decides whoever can string Odysseus' powerful bow will win her hand. Odysseus' young son tries, several of the suitors try - none of them can do it.

Finally Odysseus stands up and lifts the bow.

But the man skilled in all ways of contending,
satisfied by the great bow's look and heft,
like a musician, like a harper, when
with quiet hand upon his instrument
he draws between his thumb and forefinger
a sweet new string upon a peg: so effortlessly
Odysseus in one motion strung the bow.
Then slid his right hand down the cord and plucked it,
so the taut gut vibrating hummed and sang a swallow's note.

In the hushed hall it smote the suitors
and all their faces changed. Then Zeus thundered
overhead, one loud crack for a sign.
And Odysseus...He picked one ready arrow from his table
where it lay bare: the rest were waiting still
in the quiver for the young men's turn to come.
He nocked it, let it rest across the handgrip,
and drew the string and grooved butt of the arrow,
aiming from where he sat upon the stool.

Now flashed arrow from twanging bow clean as a whistle
through every socket ring, and grazed not one,
to thud with heavy brazen head beyond.

(The Odyssey, Book XXI, Robert Fitzgerald translation)

In the early months of dating Greg, on the outdoor deck of his parents cabin, I found myself admiring a rather large, green hunting bow. It was massive and heavy. I tried several times - with sincere effort - to pull back the string.


Then Greg stepped up.

Taking the bow easily into his arms, he grabbed the string with two fingers, angled it down and then straight forward as he easily brought the cord back to hold tight.

And then the sun broke through the clouds over us.

I was breathless, I was flustered and blushing.

I had found my Odysseus.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Orange Jello

My son is obsessed with orange jello.

I get this. Jello was a favorite item in my youth. It was the first dish I learned how to make and our Big Guy always begs to help make some. If only boiling water was not involved...

Lime is his second favorite.

I'd rather have any other flavor than lime.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Ethics of Honesty

Our Sweetie is a fish.

Swimming across the pool is simple. Multiple jumps off the high dive are easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy (his words, not mine).

So you can imagine our outrage when the local lifeguard informed Greg that Our Sweetie could not jump off any diving boards or swim across the pool without me next to him because he is FIVE.

Five. Not six.

I understand the anti-litigation, bureaucratic procedures, but I don't like them. A competency clause should exist.

At least we think it should.

And so being the amazing, forthright parents that we are, Greg and I took Our Sweetie aside before the next swimming excursion and told him to tell the lifeguards he's six.

I knew I was in trouble before the words finished coming out of my mouth.

Our Sweetie looked at us in astonishment. We were telling him to lie? Isn't that wrong? Haven't we always taught our children to tell the truth and be good examples for siblings and others?

Greg and I had dug ourselves into one seriously deep hole.

In the end Our Sweetie couldn't do it. He was fine waiting to jump off the diving board until next summer when he's six. He felt more comfortable being honest and obeying the rules.

This is bound to come out in some future testimony or primary-talk-comment-moment down the line. About how his parents are terrible, dishonest people who needed a five-yr old to set them straight.

The sides of this hole are looking pretty steep.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Divine Things That Matter Most

I love this clip.

I definitely relate to the woman in the rain. The one who debates putting aside email/computer/work/break time and goes outside with her children.

Makes me want to be a better mom.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Failed New Adaptations

Over 5 large piles of laundry this week, I finally got the chance to watch the latest Emma.

And when I say "latest" - it means I'm about 3 years behind.

It was...okay. Mr. & Mrs. Elton were a definite highlight. But I can whole-heartedly say I like this Emma 100x better.

Same goes for the latest Jane Eyre. The dialogue is beautiful and Jane herself is quite good.

But this one is still better.

And while we're on this subject, let's pause for a moment for the greatest movie of all time -

By the way - this is a terrible cover. A&E made some colossal errors here.

For starters - who the heck is in that carriage?? I'm not sure, but it's definitely not any characters from the movie. Did the shot just look regent-era so they threw it up there?

And it makes me cringe to look at the photo-shopped, blend-into-the-green view of Mr. Darcy. What part-time, uneducated staffer was saddled with this job?


Saturday, July 2, 2011


Behold...the face of STEEL!

Followed by the face of FEAR!