Children’s Book Review: Jazz Baby

Today’s Favorite: Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler and R. Gregory Christie

 

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This book is the coolest, grooviest rhythmic book that I have found. I absolutely love reading it, in part because it’s a little like performing music (which I have missed dearly since becoming a SAHM.) It can be read like a rap and you can even have your little one do a call and response with the end-phrases if they’re old enough.

“Grandpa toot-toots. Granny sings scat. Bitty-boppin’ baby goes, Rat-Tat-Tat! Mama sings high. Daddy sings low. Snazzy, jazzy baby says, Go, Man, Go!” C’mon. That family is cool. That baby is cool. I want to hang out with that baby he’s so cool. This jazzy family and their hip baby might be too cool for me. Good thing I get to read about them. Because they are so fun to spend time with.

Night Weaning, Victor Hugo style

“There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.”
– Victor Hugo

OK, so he is talking about an idea for nations, for the world at large, I’m sure. But I like to take this quote to a more personal level. Recently for our family, that idea whose time has come is night weaning. But it’s true for any brilliant new thing that you are just ready for. The trick, as always, is getting out of your own way to let the idea take its rightful place at the center of your attention.

Children’s Book Review: Blueberries for Sal

 

Today’s Favorite: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

 

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My favorite line of this book is the sound of the blueberries hitting the bottom of Sal’s pail “Kaplink, kaplank, kuplunk!” It’s really fun to say. And really, this book is fun to read because it’s so simple and sweet. Sal and her mother go out to pick blueberries to can for the winter. A bear and his mother go out to eat blueberries to fill up their bellies for the winter. There’s so many things right about this book. How similar we are in some ways to animals. How awesome it is to follow your mother around. How normal it is to get lost when you’re having a good time. How easy it is to eat a whole pail of blueberries. The illustrations are, to use an overused term- timeless. I especially love the wordless pages where Sal is standing on a chair “helping” her mother can the blueberries they’ve picked. It seems like a snapshot of my own life, really capturing the aching beauty of having little ones to hang out with- walking, working, playing. It’s all here in this classic.

We win, fake food, we win!

My family headed to the Great Wolf Lodge for an overnight this past weekend to celebrate Braden’s 4th birthday! The windchill outside was -20 degrees, schools were closed, people were advised that even 10 minutes of exposed skin could lead to frostbite. And there we were…. running about in our bathing suits in the tropical waterpark air.  It wasn’t Jamaica, but it wasn’t too shabby. (By the way, this was an online winter deal and cost just over $100 for a one night stay and passes to the waterpark for four- totally worth it!)

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This mini-vacation was so many things at once. A much-needed break from the cold. Essential time away from email, facebook, and all things work-related. A pseudo-outdoor adventure (or as close as we’re gonna get to something-like-the-outdoors when the weather is so cold you can’t actually stand outside for more than 10 minutes.) A chance for our little 1 year old to experience a waterslide for the first time. And a window into our now 4 year old’s soul- where he can’t stop smiling, laughing, and racing for each new ride without hesitation. He is a water-baby through and through.

It was also a reminder that Justin and I are the grown-ups now. We’re not the ones running down the hotel hallways, giggling and yelling (yes, fellow guests, those are my kids waking you up at 7am.) We’re the ones shouting, “That’s far enough!” as our kids run into the pool. And “Stay where I can see you and you can see me!”

One thing Justin and I are learning about is how to balance our responsibility with our desire to have fun. Sometimes it feels like a colossal joke that we are actually the ones in charge. We try to sound authoritative when we talk to our kids. You know, like they should listen to us instead of doing whatever they want when they want.  As in, say, bobbing up and down like a buoy in the middle of a giant wave pool without an adult in sight. We try to remind them that, like, we’re the bosses now. Yes, us. The girl who did bong hits for breakfast in college and the guy who just a few years ago went sledding off a roof on purpose.

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We are very responsible when it comes to our kids safety. (Wear life jackets in the waterpark.) But a little less responsible when it comes to their diet. (2 hot pretzels for lunch? OK.)  In fact, meal planning and getting nutrition into those little bodies is one of our greatest challenges. My family often eats like we’re on an expedition – we’ve found that our kids will usually eat food that packs well. Cashews, portable pouches of mashed fruits and vegetables, Clif Bars, pretzels, cheese curds, summer sausage. I’m never sure if I should be happy because my kids are eating, or feel worried because they won’t touch most vegetables and entrees.  So it was with no small amount of pride that on our last day at the waterpark, we achieved a small (big!) victory on the We’re-Responsible-Parents front.

We had already checked out of our room so we had a change of clothes in a bag with us by the pool. It was almost time to leave and we needed to find a way to keep Braden in one place long enough for him to dry off a bit and get ready to go home. So, of course, I bribed him with food. I said, “Brady, we’re going to sit here at the table and you can have some Froot Loops while mommy changes clothes. Then it will be your turn to change.” (Justin had smuggled a box of Froot Loops out of the breakfast buffet earlier.) And Braden says,

“What is a Froot Loop?”

VICTORY!  VICTORY! VICTORY!  High fives all around.  My children may eat hot dogs for breakfast some days, and very often eat noodles with butter for dinner. They eat peanut butter on a spoon for protein pretty much every single day and regularly ask for Campbell’s canned soup. But, my son has lived for four years in America and does not know what a Froot Loop is. We win, fake food, we win!  And for that matter, we win, obnoxious advertisements, we win. We are responsible enough to shield our kiddos from most junk foods and, even more importantly ads for junk food.

Roof-sledder & Bong-queen: 1
Fake Food: 0

Rule Breaking, e.e. cummings Style

“since the thing perhaps is to eat flowers and not to be afraid.”
-e.e. cummings

e.e. cummings changed my life. Poetry had always seemed like a rigid form of writing to me. At least, the poetry that I was introduced to in high school, and asked to write followed very definite guidelines. But after college, I was introduced to a different kind of poetry where rules were made to be rewritten, broken, and just ignored altogether. This not only made me a better writer, but a better human. Richer, fuller, and more willing to turn my inner volume way, way up until it blasted out my pen, and out my mouth in spoken word events. I love e.e. cummings. He tromped on all kinds of rules while zinging right to the heart. This might not be his greatest quote, but it’s the one I always think of when I realize how powerful writing can be. It can change lives.

Friday Faves Review: Guitar Lullabye

 

Today’s Favorite: Guitar Lullabye, Ricardo Cobo

 

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As we all know, the frustration of getting a little one to sleep can be mindblowing. Mama needs some powerful lullabyes to calm her nerves and this cd delivers. This music will always remind me of the long nights trying to get my oldest son to stay asleep when he was a babe. He would roll around for hours, literally, before drifting off- and then wake up at least three times a night until he was around 2 1/2.  When you’re listening to lullabye music night after night for hours, you gotta love it. In our house, Cobo’s cd would be playing in the background for at least part of that night time marathon and regardless of what effect it had on my son, it really soothed me, and I loved the music. It’s classical guitar  that was researched to provide the optimal in relaxation for babes. It incorporates the phrasing of lullabyes and the speech patterns of parents talking in soothing tones to their children.  For me, it definitely stirred some deep comfort and inner *sighs*- maybe taking me back to the lullabyes of my youth even though his music sounds nothing like my mom’s old standby, Rock-a-bye Baby.  This is the first cd I recommend to anyone looking for a lullabyes.