Wednesday, September 29, 2010

directionally challenged

I ask the younger lad: "are you a north-going Zax or a south-going Zax?"

"I'm going forward.  Is that north?"

Could be.
(good answer)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

fishin' for a good book?

Since we go to storytime on Mondays, I had hoped to post a book review yesterday.  That didn't work out because instead I was trying to figure out how to broil our dinner.


The books at yesterday's storytime were about fish.  One of them has become an instant favorite here.  I've lost track of how many times we've read it in the past 24 hours.  Normally I am not one to assign voices to dialogue when I read aloud, but I make an exception for The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen.  Dan Hanna's colorful illustrations bring the aquatic characters to life as they try to cajole, admonish, and tease the fish with the fat lip to get rid of his mopey expression (which he thinks he's stuck with).  Their respective voices just spring from the rhyming text.  I can't help but go with the flow. 

Trying to contain one's excitement is challenging at best for adults, but sometimes next to impossible for children.  At least that's the case for the little boy who brings home a fish he names Otto in A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer (illustrated by P.D. Eastman of Are You My Mother? notoriety).  The pet shop owner gives the boy very specific instructions as to the care and feeding of the fish -- "only a little, or something might happen.  You never know what."  By the end of the story, the boy knows...

For a wordless picture book to capture the imagination, check out Caldecott Award-winning Flotsam by David Weisner, the story of a boy who finds an underwater camera on the shore one lazy afternoon at the beach. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

what not to wear

The younger lad is a dapper little guy.  He knows what he likes and takes an interest in what he wears. 

When he suggested I wear a certain pair of shoes, only to discover that I in fact had donned a different pair, he was greatly displeased.  "No -- not those!  Those don't look good!" 

I had to explain to him that the shoes I was wearing were more comfortable at the time than the seemingly sensible flats he had chosen for me, as I had just been wearing a similar pair of flats that required some, um, breaking in and my feet were kind-of sore as a result of wearing them.  He found this excuse to be pretty lame.

He's probably right. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

perish the thought

They're after my chocolate.

The lass hears me rustling in a snack container and says "choc'lat" (as in chips) and makes it clear she wants some.   
How'd she know that's what in there?

The younger lad tells his elder brother as the latter boards the Bambini Ride, "we bought a chocolate bar at Target this morning.  Want to share it?"   
What's this "we" business?  Who said anything about sharing?

The elder lad moseys into the pantry and asks if he can have "something from the secret stash."
Apparently, it isn't so secret.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

safety first

Somehow, a few Goldfish were spilled into the cup holder of my elder lad's car seat sometime during the drive home from school.  As it happened, a little bit of water then found its way into the cup holder.  Turns out Goldfish don't really swim all that well.  The resulting aroma gave rise to some exclamations as to the degree of stinkiness the mixture of Goldfish and water measured, which led to conjectures regarding the hazardous situation now present.

"Mom.  We'll clean this up.  You won't have to." 
"Oh.  Thank you."

"We'll wear our masks and safety glasses."

Good plan.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

buddies at the book fair

The book fair has come to the elder lad's school.  Lord, give me strength.  I am weak in book fair situations.  I always have been, from the time I was a school girl myself.

This afternoon we unloaded after school (a rarity, for obvious reasons) and went to check out the book fair.  Once we made it inside the door (which took some doing considering the close quarters and the wide swath we cut with one lass in the stroller, the other in my sling, and two lads on foot), negotiations began on what book(s) we might take home with us.  We settled on John, Paul, George, and Ben (which we've read before and still quote to each other randomly), among a few others including an engrossing read on trucks of all sorts, two Skippyjon Jones books, and one on dinosaurs.  It's for a good cause, right? 

Fun as the book fair was on its own, more memorable to me were the introductions we had with a few of the elder lad's classmates and teachers.  Each time he'd say, "want to meet my brother and my sisters?"   They all very graciously agreed.

He's the biggest of the small ones (that's a reference to some colorful characters in Skippyjon Jones), and he's so proud. 
As we are of him.

Monday, September 20, 2010

story time returns! and some new books by favorite authors

Story time at our library resumed today!  How we do look forward to story time largely because of the talented and dedicated children's librarian who presents it.  Sometimes we're the only ones there, which is a real shame considering its excellent and engaging (i.e. fun) presentation.

As we were getting ready to go this morning, the younger lad said "I hope she brings the instruments.  I want to play the star".  It took me some silent eyebrows-furrowed pondering to figure out he meant a triangle.   I told him I didn't know if she'd bring the instruments, but that she just might.  She did, and he got to play his "star."

(He *does* know it's called a triangle, not a star -- I think.)

The lass and her brother shared a carpet square as they listened intently to the stories -- all about bears -- and played their instruments.  At dinner time the lad proudly told his daddy about playing the "star" (see caveat above), and the lass chimed in with "shaker!", which was her favorite among the instruments she played.

In honor of story time's return, here are a couple of new books by authors I've noted before:

The boy in Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka's new Little Black Crow has some questions for a bird he spies circling in the sky ranging from the here and now of where the bird goes to the more far-flung inquiries into the crow's life experiences (which the boy assumes might parallel his own).  Raschka's watercolors in this book are more subdued than those in his illustrations of Norton Juster's The Hello, Goodbye Window (which I love for the feelings it evokes of the bond we have with our parents and grandparents), but they are just as beautiful and emotive of the introspective wonderings of this curious boy.

Having hit upon a new at least semi-healthy chocolate cookie recipe for snack time in the elder lad's Kindergarten classroom last week, I find Amy Krouse Rosenthal's latest book on the sweet subject particularly timely.  One Smart Cookie: Bite-Size Life Lessons for the School Year and Beyond (illustrated, like the others in this series, by Jane Dyer and her daughter Brooke) is the latest in a series of vocabulary and life skill lessons presented through the lens of creating and sharing cookies among friends.  Internalizing words including "organized," "prompt," "empathy," "integrity," and "prompt" and their meanings never tasted so good.

Story time is a family tradition, since the time my beloved and I were children ourselves.  We are very fortunate to have such an excellent story time right here in our midst. It's a great way to start our week, and it's been the avenue to developing friendships with not only the librarian herself but also some of our neighbors. 

Here's hoping we have our instrumental nomenclature straightened out by next week's story time...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

funny girl

Little Miss is capable beyond her nineteen months.  Deciding play dough was what she wanted to do this afternoon, she went to the drawer where we keep the tablecloth designated for play dough and other potentially messy creative ventures and started spreading it on the kitchen table.  This attracted her brothers' attention, as both of them can hardly resist the lure of play dough. 

Speaking of brothers, our young lady has hers working for her.

She now prefers the younger lad's pajamas to her own.  She looks so cute in his shortie PJs with the skateboarding dog on them.   He's cool with her wearing those -- but not the ones with the tools on them *or* his firefighter jammies -- as well as his soft yellow t-shirt with an image of four construction vehicles.   They have an understanding. 

The elder lad doesn't want her in his "little Legos" but is more than happy to rifle through the box of Duplos for more "guys" for the trucks he builds for her.  He also lets her wear his yellow firefighter raincoat and is only too happy to slice anything and everything for her -- play dough or otherwise.   Once the play dough and tools were set out, she had the elder lad slicing the dough for her.  

Funny girl she is.  She kisses on her baby "sisser," swipes bites from the plates her "bubba" the younger lad abandons (although this moniker applies to either lad), and implores her "Daddy-o" to "read!  Georgie! [as in Curious]  book!".  Not only that, but she melts her mama's heart with every request to "hold me."

As neat as it has been seeing the lads' personalities emerge, so too it is with the lass.  She wants to be outside digging in the dirt with her brothers, but also likes to dress up in her pretties.

She and her baby sister may not always appreciate or want their brothers' protection or welcome their presence, but with a closet full of truck shirts and broken-in jammies at the lassies' disposal, these brothers are pretty handy to have around.  The lass certainly thinks so.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

mother radar

My mom always used to be able to find stuff that I couldn't.  She called it "mother radar" and said she learned it in "mom school."

Turns out, I've got pretty good mother radar myself for such things as sunglasses, favorite t-shirts, and specific flavors of bagels hiding in the freezer.  I must get it from her.  I'm still in "mom school," though.  I think there are something like thirteen grades.  I'm in kindergarten.

Already, though, I can handle such trick questions (posed in earnest) as "Mom, where's my hat?"
"On your head."

My radar doesn't always work.  Doozies like something lost at an indoor playground that really should've been left at home are handled in graduate school, I do believe, as an elective.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Sometimes I really surprise myself by the absurdity of my ideas -- or rather, that I would cook up **and act upon** such ridiculous things.

Why I thought taking the bambini to a fast food chain with an indoor play area was a good idea is beyond me, as we hardly ever eat fast food *or* go to indoor play areas where I fret about whatever germs might be lurking on the equipment and spend the entire time keeping track of three little people in the maze of plastic and mesh with the fourth one in the sling

Chalk it up to my sleep deficit.  Sometimes my cognitive abilities are consequently impaired. 

Alas, with the brave help of my parents and sister, we loaded up all four bambini (the elder lad had a day off from school, and my family came to visit for the day) and took a field trip to this eatery with a reputation among moms as *the* place to go.  To be sure, there were lots of families with young children, many of whom were probably there after delivering a spiel about eating "a good lunch" before going to play.  I gave that spiel myself.  I might need a new spiel writer.

Very little of the "good lunch" (as it were) was consumed.  The play area was held hostage by two unsupervised children too old to be in there anyway egging each other on to "scream louder!".   And were there naps taken after all that excitement?

Of course not.

Does any of this come as a surprise to anyone?
Probably not.

I suppose it's one of those lessons this mama had to learn by living it herself.  Standing by me while I learned it (and enduring the screaming) was truly a work of mercy by my parents and sister.

Now we've been there, done that, and don't need to again.  Whether we eat at home or out some place, we'll find another place to play -- preferably outside. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

smeller's the feller

With impeccable comedic timing, the younger lad capped bedtime prayers with a little levity...

Younger lad: "what's that stinky smell?"
me: "I don't know, babe."

him: "I think it's [the lass]."
me: "no -- I just changed her diaper."

him: "Is it you, Mom?"
me: "I hope not."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

me in their eyes

I'm still not sure what to make of the lads' perception of me -- their mama famous for cleaning (notice he didn't say "laundry") but not so good at scaling the outside of the stairs.  It's funny the things that resonate with kids.  

For example, we do build with blocks a lot, but we also spend a lot of time reading together.  The mall is not my favorite place (but it might be the younger lad's -- he sure does like the play area), and while I indeed like ice cream, I'm surprised the elder lad didn't say "chocolate" or "coffee" were my favorite.  I bet the lass will when I  interview her.   Clever girl is wise to the presence of my secret chocolate stash.

When I query them again as I plan to, I wonder how differently they'll respond.  Here's hoping they'll both still respond that "I love you" is something I say to them a lot.  That's the impetus behind everything I do, and always will be.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

twenty questions

On my birthday, I interviewed the lads (separately).  I got the (great) idea from Lerin, who is making it a yearly practice.

Here are their candid responses...

1.  What is something Mama often says to you?
younger (age 3):  I love you.
elder (age 5): I love you.

2.   What makes Mama happy?
younger: picking up toys.
elder: because I love you.

3.  What makes Mama sad?
younger: not picking up toys
elder: because I hurt your feelings.

4.  What does Mama do that makes you laugh?
younger: going to Mimi & Papa's house
elder: funny stories.  knock knock jokes.

5.  What was Mama like as a little girl?
younger: building
elder: a little girl

6.  How old is Mama?
younger: 78
elder: 32

7.  How tall is Mama?
younger: this tall (50 tall)
elder: I don't know.

8.  What is Mama's favorite thing to do?
younger: ask if you want Cheddar Bunnies.
elder:  I don't know.

9.  What does Mama do when you're not around?
younger: you are alone.  You cry.
elder: clean the house.

10.  If Mama were famous, what would it be for?
younger: from turning on the water
elder: cleaning up houses

11.  What is Mama good at?
younger: washing dishes
elder: cleaning?

12.  What is Mama *not* good at?
younger: not washing dishes
elder:  climbing up the (out)side of the stairs

13.  What is Mama's job?
younger: washing dishes
elder: take care of us

14.  What is Mama's favorite food?
younger: sandwich
elder: I don't know.  ice cream?

15.  What makes you proud of Mama?
younger: turning on the water
elder: for cleaning up our mess.

16.  What is something you and Mama do together?
younger: play blocks
elder: play blocks

17.  How are we the same?
younger. we both have brown -- no -- white skin.
elder: because we have have the same skin color.

18.  How are we different?
younger: we have different shirts on.
elder: because you're taller and I'm smaller.

19.  Where is Mama's favorite place to go?
younger: to the mall
elder:  to the store?  target?

20.  How do you know that Mama loves you?
younger: 'cuz you do. 
elder: because you tell me.
Got that right!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

inquiring minds want to know

To all those who've stopped dead in their tracks at the store or library this week at the sight of us and have risked asking me if these bambini are all mine, commented that I have some good helpers, or observed that my hands are full only to get a quick glance and one word answer -- if that,

It's not that I don't want to be conversational, you see.  It's that I'm trying to get through this excursion without anyone falling out of the cart, having to go down the toy truck aisle again, or getting run over by the five year old insistent upon driving the cart or stroller containing his brother and sister all by himself.  Thanks for your understanding.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

birthday blessings

Birthdays have a whole new meaning for me now that I'm a mother.  On each of my bambini's birthdays I relive the day of their birth and how each birth transpired.  Each of these days is as much (or more) one of celebration for me as my own birthday, as each marks another gift from God, the Author of all life.

Today is my birthday.  In experiencing our elder lad's first birthday five years ago, I came to realize how much my birthday must mean to my own parents.  It's not just about me -- it's about them, too. 

So while I take great delight in all the festivities and am deeply humbled for all the expressions of love from so many, I am most of all grateful for the gift of life and the tender love and care my parents and family continue to lavish upon me as they have since the day of my birth.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

books for when one is under the weather

Mercifully, no one at our house is ill at the moment.  If anyone were, though, either or both of these books would be ideal.

 A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Christian Stead is the endearing story of a devoted zookeeper and his animal friends.  Every day Amos McGee rises early, "ambles" to the bus stop (at which point the younger lad always asks me "what's 'amble?'"), and tends to each of them individually.  When he comes down ill one day and stays home, the animals come take care of him just as he does them.  Erin Stead's illustrations are truly captivating.  Amos McGee is always in pencil drawing, with the surroundings and other characters in color. 

The illustrations in Amos McGee reminded me somehow of Teddy Bears Cure A Cold (though they are not all that similar).  One bear in a family of colorful bears comes down with a cold and is cared for by the other bears -- until it becomes apparent by the nature and content of his requests that he's probably feeling better than he lets on.  Susanna Gretz's series (illustrated by Alison Sage) also includes (among others) Teddy Bears Stay Indoors and Teddy Bears Take the Train.

Here's hoping everyone here stays healthy.  Should, however, The Sniffles strike, at least we'll have fun reading material.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

cookie monster

Do you think the elder lad's teacher might have some choice words for me if I send cookies each the size of her Kindergartners' heads for their mid-morning snack tomorrow?
I probably would.

Even if the cookies do have oatmeal (for "O" week), whole wheat flour and wheat germ in them, and even if the theme O'the week is friendship such that they could theoretically share the cookies, sending saucer-sized cookies might not earn me any brownie points.

Ooh, brownies...

*Smaller but still decent-sized cookies are boxed up and ready to go...

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Summons

There were so many signs of God's grace present at our littler lass's baptism yesterday, from the family and friends who celebrated with us to the music at the Mass.  Before Mass began and again at the preparation of the gifts, we heard John Bell's  The Summons, a song that resonates deeply with us as it was the processional at our wedding a little over six years ago.

While it is beautiful and moving in any instrumentation and voicing, it was simply awesome presented as it was at our wedding with my college music theory professor -- a mentor and friend -- in command of the massive organ and a dear friend and fellow liturgical musician serving as cantor for the wedding Mass leading the congregation in singing.

I have often pondered the text of this song, every time finding something different that speaks to me in that moment.    Yesterday, it was this verse that spoke to me, both as a mother and about the commitment we have made on her behalf and hope that she will one day take ownership of:

Will you come and follow me
If I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know
And never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown,
Will you let my name be known,
Will you let my life be grown
In you and you in me?

At our wedding, the lengthy procession included altar servers, several priests, our wedding party of relatives and friends as close as family, our parents, and us.   My beloved and I processed in together as ministers of the sacrament of marriage together following our parents.

The music filled the church and the procession began.  My beloved and I waited, though, until the final verse:

Lord, your summons echoes true
When you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you
And never be the same.
In your company I’ll go
Where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow
In you and you in me.

The challenge is as pertinent today -- if not more so -- than it was that morning we married.  

Sunday, September 05, 2010


Our littler lass was baptized this morning along with a boy about three years old.  The families gathered to watch and pray as these children were brought before the Lord by parents and Godparents committed to raising their children to know, love, and serve God.   We were strangers to each other, but we now share a common bond in faith, having celebrated this sacrament of baptism together today.

As the energetic toddler squirmed and squealed through parts of the Rite of Baptism, I tried to stay focused on the prayers.  Many a liturgy have I dealt with bambini in similar humors.  Not wanting to embarrass the mother any more than she might have already been, I didn't look in their direction.  At one point, though, as we shuffled around for the various aspects of the baptism, our eyes did meet.

I smiled at her and looked away just as she started to smile back.  I wish I hadn't looked away so quickly.  I realized too late that her expression had changed from one that might be described as nervous, irritated, or edgy to one of relief and even friendliness.  As soon as the Rite was concluded, I took the lass to a quiet spot to nurse and did not have a chance to introduce myself to or converse with the mother. 

I hope in that blink of the eye, that mother came to realize that I was her peer in this endeavor of raising children according to God's will, no matter us not having met before, and that I wished her peace and fortitude.

For her son and our lass, I pray these words from the Rite of Baptism:

"The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word, 
and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father."


Thursday, September 02, 2010

o happy day

'Twas seven years ago this night that I met the man who would become my beloved -- in a pub among young adults gathered for the new-to-us Theology on Tap series.  He elbowed a mutual friend and asked to be introduced to me, and the rest is history...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

mixed feelings

Reconciling the fun and adventure to be had at Kindergarten with missing one's family and the familiarity of home life...

Eager to expand upon an already impressive knowledge base with fresh books, learning toys, art supplies, musical instruments, and computer games versus the freedom of being able to set one's own agenda (one that wouldn't include "quiet rest time" -- or P.E. if it were me)...

Meeting children one's own age and having fun with them yet feeling shy and hesitant to jump in to a group of kids who already seem to know each other pretty well...

Special one-on-one time with Dad in "the big truck" spotting construction vehicles -- after getting up before daylight to hurriedly eat the traditional bagel with cream cheese in time to be on the road...

Five days at school and only two stay home days...

and to top it all off
Knowing one's younger brother is at home watching "I Dig Dirt" without you...

tough stuff for a five-year-old (and his parents).
Related Posts with Thumbnails