Thursday, August 30, 2012

happy.

hi, i'm lincoln.
i'm a happy baby.


it's nice to meet you.


since we're friends now, i'm going to tell you a secret.


i've got bad skin problems.


if you could see it where it is bad, it would hurt your heart.
mommy has to put these socks on my hands to keep me from scratching.


hard to believe because i'm always so cheerful, right?


well, let me show you why i'm so happy.


this is joshy.


he is so silly


and so loving


and he loves to spend time with me.


this is my daddy.


he makes me feel safe.


and people say i look like him. bonus!


he is the best daddy ever.


this is bennett.


he's lots of fun


even if he is a little... crazy.


ahhh! i didn't mean it!


see what i mean?


and this is my mommy.


she loves me so much.


she thinks i am the sweetest, most wonderful baby in the whole world.


it breaks her heart to see that i'm in pain
and it humbles her to see how happy and patient i can still be.


with a family that loves me this much


no wonder i'm so happy!


i love you too, guys.


thiiiiiis much.


and i went to a special skin doctor today.
things will be better soon-- i can feel it!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Imagine...


Imagine coming home every day to this:



What do you mean, "Yeah, and...?"
Go ahead, look at it again.



Yep, that's right. Those two table legs are unscrewed from each other.


Mmm hmm, yep, that chair is broken.


Sure, you can take a closer look. Totally fine.


What's that?


Oh, yes, one of the chairs is a foldup because another one of the chairs broke.
Yes, so glad you asked, that glass is totally moveable and slips back and forth if you so much as breathe on it.
No, those two booster seats don't match each other and and one of them is always falling off while the other one is so stained and caked with grime in every little crack that it makes you nauseous if you get too close.
And of course our two little boys love to push the entire table back and forth at each other either while laughing maniacally or while screaming with the full capacity of their lungs.

Thanks for asking.


Nope, not even an artsy angle is going to help here.
It was a nice thought, though.


Here, take just one more look:



Now imagine coming home to this:



Yes, I think you know exactly what I mean.
And sometimes you appreciate things so much more when you wait for them.


Oh, and thank you for pointing out that it would take 3.4 seconds for the boys to carve this little table up like a turkey. Don't worry, we've got it covered.

just look at that mischievous smile...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I am a dream crusher of a mom.

I am a bad mom. An over-controlling, dream crusher of a mom.


I hope you will still be my friend after you have read this rundown of what our library trips, up until a couple of weeks ago, looked like. Brace yourself.


1. We enter the library.

2. The boys run exuberantly to the kid section.

3. Bennett runs straight to the Spiderman 3 book. He knows exactly where it is. He also knows he is only allowed to read it in the library, because we aren't going to check it out.

4. Joshy runs to the computer where he sits playing little kid games to his heart's content because he is only allowed to play computer games on Saturdays when we are at home.

5. Relieved that the boys are occupied, I commence The Great Search For The Perfect Library Books. I go up and down each aisle, with a slightly sour, prim look on my face, sniffing every once in a while in disgust and indignation at a particularly offensively dull children's book before moving on to the next row.

6. Every once in a while, Joshy will run to me with a hopeful look on his face, carrying a library book. I reluctantly flip through its pages, then declare "no, this one has too many words," or "you know we don't check out books that are made from tv shows, but you are welcome to read it while you are here, dearie."

7. Bennett comes over with his Spiderman 3 book with hope in his eyes, and of course I dash that hope into itty bitty pieces because not only is this book for kids much, much older than Bennett, but it also has actual photos from the movie in it, and that is just as boring as it gets!

8. Once or twice, Joshy strikes it rich and I nod approvingly, "that looks fun," and let him put the book in the book bag. He has no idea why I have finally accepted one, but he is happy to be useful.

9. Bennett picks a book we have recently checked out or something else that I just don't want to have to read to him, and I surreptitiously sneak it back on the shelf when he has run off again.

10. We leave the library, the boys' two book bags full of hardback, beautifully illustrated, carefully selected


Okay, I just can't bear typing one more word of that. Yikes, I'm breaking my own heart just writing it.

I hadn't realized just how bad I'd gotten.

It wasn't always this way, you know. I wasn't always this snobby. I just got so tired of second-rate library books that I took matters into my own hands and forgot who we were going to the library for. After I posted my previous post about fun library books, I had a couple of friends suggest that, you know, children's books are for kids or something.

Wait,what? Can you run that by me again?

(If you've seen this movie, I think you might have a good idea of my parenting style. Netflix streaming.)


Anyway, after that little wake-up call and some introspection, I committed to the following experiment:

Okay, here's what I'm going to do. The next time we go to the library, I'm going to let the boys pick every single book. I'm going to try my very hardest to let them get every book they want. Then I'll see if I can stomach reading them to them for the week. But I am going to have them talk about each one after we read it and if they say they like it, I'm going to ask them why. I will then tell them what I thought of it. Sound fair?

Before we went to the library, I prepped the boys. I told them I would give them each their own library book bag and they could fill it up with whatever the heck books they wanted. I told them that if I asked, "Can we get this book, too?" they should tell me, "No, Mom, you aren't picking library books today." Joshy, compassionate and sweet, looked at me and said, "You can pick some too, Mommy, that's ok." But I was firm.


1. We enter the library.

2. The boys run exuberantly to the kid section, each with their own book bags in hand.

3. They begin stuffing books into their bags as fast as they can. They look like they are going to clear an entire shelf of paperback books in five seconds, so I quietly suggest that they can also go to any other shelves they want to.

4. They run, they laugh, they are so excited. They almost can't believe it that for every single book they grab, I nod and say, "That's great! Put it in your bag."

5. It's like Halloween, but with books instead of candy.

6. Bennett is so excited to get the Spiderman 3 book that he gets two of them.

7. The boys are done in like five minutes.

8. We leave the library and, even though I am totally ready to go home and do lunch, at Bennett's request, we go to play at the park behind the library. Heck, I'm one of those "chill" parents now. My kids are running the show. I'm just here to make sure no one gets hurt.

9. On the way to the park, Joshy picks a flower and gives it to me because I "didn't get to pick any library books."

10. We all feel free, excited, and happy.

11. I don't yell at them at the park. I don't boss their every move. When they are ready to leave, we leave, and I don't hurry them as they meander down the trail back to the car.

12. At home during the week, we read the books. When I ask them what they like about them, I am a little surprised. They never mention the illustrations. Joshy almost always mentions something about the storyline, like that he doesn't like Spiderman 3 because Spiderman turns bad. Or that he likes how the girl in the airplane book rescues all the people and saves the day. He likes a Ni Hao Kai-Lan book because it teaches us another language. Bennett can't really explain why he likes a book, but he definitely likes his Spiderman book and is constantly looking at all the pictures.

13. We go to the library the next week and end up checking out 41 books. I pick some that I like, the boys pick some they like, and we all enjoy ourselves 100%.

14. I am a better mommy. Just a little bit better, but better.



On a side note, thank you for all the book recommendations! We will have to check them out.

I just have to recommend one more that my mother reminded me of. I grew up with this book and this week my boys have been completely fascinated with it and have asked to read it over and over and over again. The husband and wife that created this book (and other fun ones too like King Bidgood's in the Bathtub) often base their books on things that happened in their own family.



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Am I being too picky?

So I don't know about you, but me and "the boys" read a heckuva lot of library books. And I don't know about you, but in my opinion there are a heckuva lot of really . . . lacking children's books these days. Look, I'm not picky, I just have a few basic requirements:

1. Quality of illustration. You can't judge a book by its cover . . . but if you can't stand the cover it might be hard to get through the book. I'm no artist, but it seems to be a growing trend in illustration to have really awful, scribbly pictures that look like a 4-year old drew them. No thanks. If we want those, we'll have our 4-year old draw them.

2. Quality of writing. How hard is it to think a little bit about the way you put your words together? Especially in a children's book where there aren't even very many words to worry about. Think about the words, make them sound good. That's all.

3. Quality of message. We have read soooo many children's books that are crude or where the kids are brats or afraid of everything or where all the animals on the farm are just going about their daily business but there is nothing special about the story except that we learn that the cow goes "moo" (what 1-year old doesn't know that already?) . . . Come up with something that has a fun twist or an important message! How hard could that be?

Here are a few books that we have enjoyed lately. I'll tell you a little about them . . .

but before I do that I just want to say, yes, it doesn't matter so much if the parent enjoys the books. But my kids will pretty much enjoy anything I read to them, so is it too much to ask for me to enjoy it too? Plus, I really do want them to get good messages from the books they read. I want them to get used to reading to be inspired, not just entertained.

It's funny-- lately when we finish a library book little josh will turn to me and say something like, "That was a pretty good book, right Mom?" I guess he is used to me passing judgment each time we finish a book. Maybe I am teaching him to be too critical instead of just having fun, but I think it's good to discuss books and talk about what we did or didn't like about them. It prepares him to think about everything he takes in, instead of just soaking it all up like a couch potato.



This one is so cute! The boy can't find his t-r-u-c-k. At the very least, your kid will be able to spell truck by the end of the book. The illustrations are adorable as well.


Have you heard of this one? I didn't know it existed until last year. It's really fun to read aloud. We liked it so much we bought it.



This is a cute book that uses the farm theme in a fun twist. And who doesn't love a book with robbers in it?



I'm including this one for bennett's sake. We read it like a year ago and he still quotes from it. Sure, it's a common theme in children's books, but it's cute.



You might be thinking, "But I don't speak Spanish!" when you see this title. Well then, this book is for you. It's the story of Goldilocks in English, and it rhymes, and then every once in a while it will substitute a Spanish word for an English word in a fun way. Your kid can probably even guess what the word means from the context. Love it.



There are so many books about changing seasons and bears, but this one was quite fun.


Here are two books without words:


Oh no! The fox stole the chicken! Who will rescue her? You can have your kid describe what's happening as you go along.



This one is a hoot. The cake disappears and you have to figure out why and when. There are so many side stories going on at the same time and it's fun to trace them through as you read the book. (This is a sequel of sorts to Where Is the Cake? but I like this one better I think.) Josh Sr. is especially good at making this kind of book fun.


Really quick, while I'm on the topic of books, we found these books by Yukiko Kido that are really good for teaching a beginner how to recognize words and read through rhymes. I've seen a lot of early reading books that didn't help my kid at all, but these (we've found maybe eight different ones at our library) are really simple and effective and joshy loves them. I think they helped him have a real breakthrough in reading.


Okay, these final three are my absolute faves that we've read lately:


Smelly Bill doesn't want to take a bath . . . but he meets his nemesis in this book. So funny, and the rhymes are delightful.



This book has two great things about it: It teaches a little bit of math AND it teaches your kids to toughen up and not cry about it when something goes wrong. No offense, but my kids really need this lesson. Oh, PLUS, there is a link to a website that reads the book and the little song in it is so much fun! My kids love it.


This one might be my all-time fave. This kid doesn't want to eat his peas and he finds someone to eat them for him . . . for a price. It is so clever and the moral is awesome. This is the kind of book I would really love to find more of. Maybe it just rang true to me because I don't like vegetables.


Try some of these books out with your kids and let me know what you think! Do you have any awesome ones we should look up? Do you think I am being too critical? Should I let my boys bring home all the made-from-tv-or-movies-and-are-absolutely-painful-to-read-and-make-me-want-to-rip-them-into-little-tiny-pieces books like Spiderman and Cars and Scooby Doo?

And now I'd better hurry and post this before I remember yet another book that we loved.