Saturday, May 31, 2008

Jennie's Hat, by Ezra Jack Keats, was a favorite book when I was a kid. It's the story of Jennie and the hat she receives as a gift from her aunt. She is disappointed with her hat at first when she compares it to the other hats that she sees that are so decorated and beautiful. In the end, hers also become beautiful because of a special relationship she has with some birds. My girls really appreciated the ornate hats made of collage in the pages of this book and that's what I remember about it from my own childhood. It's a rare Ezra Jack Keats book, harder to find but worth looking for.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Mom Purse Keeps It Real

What can I say? There's some serious debris at the bottom of my purse. It all comes from carrying around one too many pinecones, I guess.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A few things have been updated around this house, the first being all three female hairdos. We found a gal who lives in Milwaukie who will come to you and cut hair at your house. Doing a larger group is her preferred situation as it makes her trip wherever worthwhile. So we joined some friends and five haircuts later we were new women! She charges $30 for adults and $10 for kids. And she does an INCREDIBLE job. I heartily appreciate her skill for bevelled bobs, right in time for warmer weather, if it ever shows up. I don't know when either girl's hair has been more cute.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

"I'd coaxed a wild-eyed colt to take a saddle, and climbed the oak by my grandmother's barn higher than all the boys, cloud-catching high. I was not afraid of anything, so when my papa said, 'We're going west to Oregon,' I begged to drive the oxen team across the endless prairie."

Meet Hallie, the strong main character whose family's westward journey is beautifully captured in The Buffalo Storm, by Katherine Applegate. Hallie's close relationship with her grandmother threatens this spirit of adventure, as she doesn't want to leave her grandmother behind. Before leaving, her grandmother gives her paper to write down the details of her journey, and a quilt, to cuddle up in if it's stormy.(Ironically as I write this it is rainy, sparks of lightning and thunder enlivening the night).

My favorite thing about this book is the writing. The text is especially poetic, full of lovely language and powerful metaphors. The wagon's top gleams "like a bread loaf ready for the oven," and later joins other wagons, "like beads slowly stringing." With powerful imagery and a tender tilt on family, change and facing your fears this book has stuck around longer than the library might have liked to loan it to us. Any book featuring strong women is a book I want to bring into this house and keep for awhile so we can be reminded of what we are capable of.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Today was Julia's last day of preschool. I held it together but it's the end of an era and when her teacher sang "So loo-ong, it's been good to know you," for her last time I nearly welled up. The days of learning through play at school are over, as are the days of a caring, amazing teacher and familiar friends, for both she and I. I know she's ready for the next step, but am mourning the end of this experience for her.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

This week's book recommendation is for the parents. I am reading Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I have been really needing a consistent approach to the girls and their conflicts, and this book has filled my toolbox with tools so that when the time is right, I am armed with ammunition. When I first started reading it I feel like I was using it every second. I drag my heels about reading a parenting book but once I do it, it always makes me a better mom. These women also co-wrote How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, a GENIUS book in terms of teaching really effective communication skills for parents.

For the Birds

She was definitely a bird before she became a child because of all the nest building.

She was one too, due to her flight patterns.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I got to see my mom today on Mother's Day. At one point during her visit she came upstairs to find me and we lay on my bed and chatted, just like the good old days. I love you, Mom!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Though aimed at kids aged 4-8, this week's book is actually a gem of a book for parents, too. Cottonball Colin, by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross is the story of an overprotective mother who is constantly fearful that her smallest son will be hurt. Though his older siblings all get to run free and wild, poor Colin must stay indoors, not permitted to climb, run, or jump because he might fall. And then there's the fear that a chestnut will fall on his head. Colin's grandma has a super idea about how to protect Colin from danger: swab him in cotton. This would all be fine and dandy if being wrapped in cotton didn't prove to bring MORE danger into Colin's tiny life. This book reminds all of us to lighten up when it comes to saying NO because of our fears of our children getting hurt. Colin actually develops bravery and strength by being faced with everyday challenges. And his mother learns something, too.

Friday, May 09, 2008

"For every runner, there is the constant balance between love and hate."

I love this campaign by New Balance and can relate to it completely. Since January, I've been working on a "COUCH POTATO to 5K" program with a friend. She and I have basically been training at the same time but not really together and we've both progressed on our own, sharing our running highs and lows along the way. We're scheduled to do our first 5K tomorrow morning!

I never thought of myself as a runner, and still don't. I jog, people, slowly. But. I'm moving, and I've gone from jogging three minutes at a time to jogging for 37minutes straight. For me that's progression.

Since January I've lost about 12 pounds. My pants fit differently. I just bought new t-shirts that don't swim on me. I am no longer cardiovascularly challenged running up the stairs and have a great stress reliever three times a week. My goal is to reclaim my body from its pitiful post-childbirth state and I'm getting there.

I have my ipod to thank. I do best when I run to music, preferrably music that has a beat I can match. A supportive but not pushy husband helps. Also, my accountability comes from my friend who is training, too. After tomorrow's 5K I have two more that I'm aiming to run to keep myself going.

Wish me luck tomorrow!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

At our house, (and especially now with Avery, who is potty training) Potty Kits are a huge hit. Do you know about these? Borrowable from the library, they feature a colorful collection of books designed to encourage young children's potty training process. The titles in our kit, Karen Katz's Potty for Me, Alona Frankel's Once Upon a Potty, Joanna Cole's My Big Girl Potty,and more, are especially geared for girls but there are kits for boys too.

The above book, "Where's the Poop?" is a favorite because each page features an animal pooping somewhere in its' natural environment and you have to find the poop hidden under one of the flaps on each page. Then, the book ends with a person pooping on a potty, who also says, "Excuse me, can you please close the book? I'm going potty." The kids crack up at that part every time. (At our house we can't get over how the penguin poop in that book is pink. My guess was that maybe they ate a lot of shrimp, something even Avery remembers when we get to that page and she responds, "I think they ate a lot of shrimp.")

We will have had our kit for nine weeks by the time it's due (two renewals later) and during this time Avery has progressed quite far with her potty training. Are the books the reason? It can't hurt to hear an encouraging message again and again about something she's working on daily. Checking out a potty kit for Avery has been a special thing for her. She delighted in carrying it out to the car, and she looks at her Potty Kit books all the time. Believe it or not, the books have even been a model for me. In one story the mom tells her daughter, "Don't give up!" when the kid has an accident. I think that's such a great thing to say. As you're peeling off wet underwear and cleaning up another puddle, it's the last thing you think of to say but it totally helps. Our less frequent accidents are proof. The potty kit also features a book for parents to read about the whole lovely potty training process. Definitely worth checking out if you have any potty training in your future.