Things I Love Thursdays

I’m a sucker for stationery. Right this very minute I have 3 sets of personalized note cards sitting on my desk. And return address labels and stamps?  Don’t get me started.  

So I’m kind of geeking out about these clever letterpress cards by Sapling Press (also on Etsy). They get ideas from websites and their favorite Twitter feeds, and then make beautiful goofy cards.  

check stupidparenting milkshake   spongepumpernickle john

And a few oldies but goodies that are making regular appearances at my house at bedtime?

The princess-to-be goes on a quest to save her intended, Ronald, from a fire-breathing dragon. She outsmarts the dragon and then bids Ronald farewell after he doesn’t appreciate her efforts. He’s no prince after all – he’s a BUM.

Life gets a little boring if you eat the same thing every day, even if it is your very favorite.

Life gets a little boring if you eat the same thing every day, even if it is your very favorite.

Keep on, keepin’ on, my friends!

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Things I Love Thursdays

And now for your latest installment of TILT!  Just so you know, these aren’t affiliate links, I just like this stuff.

MagnaTiles – These flat, magnetic blocks are awesome. My children play with these just about every day.  We build buildings, make pizza, make rockets, the options are unlimited, and they really encourage creative play. They are even fun for parents.  Downside? Super expensive. 

Image from MagnaTiles.com. Click on the image for to go there.

Image from MagnaTiles.com. Click on the image to go there.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee – I know I’m not alone in my love of this book.  It is a simple (and not too long! Major perk at bedtime – I’m looking at you Mike Mulligan) book about sweet friendship and the illustrations are just lovely.  We have a lot of books, and this one consistently ranks among my favorites.

Amos

Image from Amazon.

Max Daniel Security Blanket – Pickle and Plum chose Angel Dear Blankies as their security blankets/lovies. I thought Pistachio would do the same.  But this soft, silky blanket gifted by my sister is his lovey of choice.  I can’t say I blame him.  It is cozy and luxurious, and a nice size.  It is pretty darn expensive for a lovey but it is his favorite. 

Image from Amazon (click on photo to link there).  You can also see these at maxdaniel.com.

Image from Amazon (click on photo to link there). You can also see these at maxdaniel.com.

Books: Mom and Kid Approved

Our library of children’s books overfloweth!  Hooray!

Plum has adopted the very cute habit of insisting – INSISTING! – that you take the book she is handing you, sit on the floor cross-legged so she can climb in your lap and read to her.  RIGHT NOW.  The girl is persuasive.  She loves to “read” to herself too – sitting, flipping through pages, and babbling expressively.  Hooray for books!

As I read Caps for Sale to Pickle last night, I started thinking about the books that I loved as a child that he now loves, too.  There are several.

Here are our favorites:

Lovely, silly repetition, monkeys and strange illustrations. What's not to like?!

Lovely, silly repetition, monkeys and strange illustrations. What’s not to like?!

My 1st Edition, received on my 1st birthday is starting to fall apart, but we still "read" this one regularly.  There are no words, but we love talking about the pictures.

My 1st Edition, received on my 1st birthday, is starting to fall apart, but we still “read” this one regularly. There are no words, but we love talking about the pictures.

I challenge you to find a child who DOESN'T love this book.  It is silly, a bit magical and forces parents to attempt the Grover voice. I cannot count the number of times we've read this one.

I challenge you to find a child who DOESN’T love this book. It is silly, a bit magical and forces parents to attempt the Grover voice. I cannot count the number of times we’ve read this one.

Alas, this sweet little book (no words in this one either) is out of print. I love that the monster in this book is sensitive and lonely, and that you can see the little girl's bellybutton on every page (even through her pajamas!)

Alas, this sweet little book (no words in this one either) is out of print. I love that the monster in this book is sensitive and a little lonely, and that you can see the little girl’s bellybutton on every page (even through her pajamas!)

An absolute classic.  I am thankful we just received a board book version because my copy (received on my 2nd birthday) isn't going to stand up to repeat readings very much longer.

An absolute classic. I am thankful we just received a board book version because my copy (received on my 2nd birthday) isn’t going to stand up to repeat readings very much longer.

I've written about this one before. The local setting, the changing season, hard work, simple pleasures (wintergreen peppermint candies!) and the sweet gesture when he kisses his ox on the nose - I love this book.  If it reads like poetry, that is because it is.

I’ve written about this one before. The local setting, the changing seasons, hard work, simple pleasures (wintergreen peppermint candies!) and the sweet gesture when he kisses his ox on the nose – I love this book. If it reads like poetry, that is because it is.

 

I am so looking forward to chapter books and sharing more of my favorites.

PS – I don’t get anything from Amazon for linking to them, it’s just easy.  Of course, I’d encourage you to buy these books from your local independent bookseller! Shout out to Gibson’s!

Look, book!

Allow me to state the obvious.  Reading is good.  For so many reasons. We read a lot in our house.  I hope that I can give my children the gift of books, and the love of reading.  I remember how important I felt when, each week during one summer, I walked to the library 1/4 mile from my house, and spent afternoons browsing the  young adult books in the library basement.  I still love to bury my nose in a book that smells like must, print, paper, and fingerprints of readers past.  That summer I read the Little House on the Prairie series, and I loved it.

While I’m positive Mr. Pickle will be a reader, Miss Plum?  Who knows.  Baby 2 gets fewer books, it is just the way it is (in my house, at least).  Fingers crossed we will be able to start a real bedtime book routine with her soon. (Actually, fingers crossed that she’ll start sleeping through the night sometime soon, sheesh, but that is a post for another day.)

Here are some of the books that Mr. Pickle has loved in his first 2.5 years:

Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
Some nice repetition, a funny story, and the word “ultimatum” – I’ve read this book at least 150 times.

Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever
I remember this book from when I was little! There is so much to talk about on each page. And Kenny Bear eats a remarkable amount of food for breakfast. Honorable mention: Richard Scarry’s Cars Trucks and Things That Go.

Good Night New Hampshire by Adam Gamble and Anne Rosen
We like these. My husband was on some sort of kick and bought 14 different books in the “Good Night Our World” series. They are quick reads, show kids different landmarks in different cities/places and since they’re board books, they’re good for little hands that like to crinkle and rip.

A Potty for Me! by Karen Katz
When my son first started considering potty-training, he liked this book a lot. He especially liked the part where the mom says, “That’s okay!” I think the book has annoying rhymes (together/water, etc) but was a nice little book on the subject.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
I love this book and so does my little boy. The rhymes and rhythm are lovely. It has all of the heavy machinery Pickle loves. I consider it a must-have, and will likely be giving it as a gift this Christmas to a few under-twos.

Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall
I adore this book. It is my favorite. The illustrations by Barbara Cooney are so lovely. The story is poetry (not surprising given that the author is a poet who was the American Poet Laureate in 2006) and it is local. For several months we read this book at least once a night. And we always made sure to kiss each other on the nose.

Angelo by David Macaulay
My son recently discovered this book – a signed copy was given to him as a gift. It is way over his head, it is long and is sad, but he likes trying to figure it out. He enjoys hearing about Angelo helping Sylvia. I suspect we’ll be reading this one for years.

What Pete Ate from A – Z by Maira Kalman
This book is quirky, funny, and full of weird characters. It is actually fun to read. I have given this book as a gift before, and it has been well-received. I’m glad my son likes this book because I don’t mind reading it every night.

So tell me, what are some of your favorites?

I’m Listing!

I am a working mom with two small children.  Needless to say, sleep is always short, and my to-do list is always long.  I’m still on that never-ending quest for balance.  Some days are better than others.  Or perhaps I should say that some days are worse than others.  Half full, half empty, yadda yadda.

I’ve started to realize that in addition to the to-do lists I keep a) in my gmail account,  b) on my iPhone, c) on my desk at work, and d) floating around in my brain, I also have the following sneakier non-to-do to-do lists (whoa, that’s confusing – bet you had to read that twice):

1) My house

The way my schedule works, I don’t get vacations.  At all.  Ever.  It is the trade-off I make for having Wednesdays at home with my doodlebugs.  There is an occasional long weekend here and there, but nothing longer, and I’m rarely out of town.  I’ve come to realize that, for me, the huge value of vacation is that I can escape the to-do list that is my house.  There’s the regular upkeep, of course, but as I walk around, it is hard not to notice all of the things I want to do, and the changes I want to make.  Do we still have the same paint jobs in the master bedroom and bath as we did when we moved in 3+ years ago?  Yes, yes we do.  Are both rooms sponge-painted? Yes, yes they are.  Excuse: I have been pregnant or living with teeny people in my house since 12 days after we moved in, so I’ve put up with the paint job by telling myself that too many paint fumes could be/would be dangerous to our health.  But beyond the painting, there is stuff to do in every room.  And even when I escape the house to-do list I have to walk by my garage door and think, “Geez, that really needs replacing.”   The name on our front door knocker?  Yeah, not ours.

Ceci n’est pas une paint brush.

2) My nightstand

When you remove Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, Ox-Cart Man and the other 34 children’s books you will see my nightstand to-do list – my to-read pile of books. Has A Farewell to Arms been there for 7 years?   Yes, it has.  And if you’re doing the math in your head, you’re right – it was on my nightstand in my prior abode and I moved it to this nightstand in my new house 3+ years ago.  It might be time to add it to the bookshelf, eh?

3) My DVR

Don’t get me wrong – I love my DVR.  We never watch anything the night-of, preferring to wait a night and fast-forward through all of the commercials.  But I admit to getting stressed out when I see that “78% full” warning as it goes up and up and up. Excuse: the 43 episodes of “Yo Gabba Gabba” do take up a chunk of space.  But really, the “Recordings” list has turned from something I looked forward to seeing, to something that stresses me out.   It is simply a list of things I need to find the time to watch.  And usually, I’m just too tired.

Photo Credit: TV Guide.com

It may be time for me to figure out a way to get out of town for a while, so my to-do list can look more like this:

  1. Schedule massage
  2. Make dinner reservations
  3. Nap

What about you?  Where are your sneaky to-do lists?

Resolve!

I’m not big on resolutions.  I suppose I subconsciously make a “lose weight’ resolution every year… or week, really.  But that’s never really happened (except in 20 pound chunks here and there – which I quickly put back on with some bonus pounds), so I’m vowing not to make that resolution again (and again and again).  I did feel a sort of head-nodding relief when I read Tara Parker-Pope’s recent article in the NYTimes Magazine, “The Fat Trap”.  An interesting read.  It helped me feel at least a little bit validated that perhaps what I’ve always felt about my own weight struggles are true – that in order for me to lose and maintain that loss, I have to eat much less than other people my size and exercise twice as much.  It doesn’t seem fair, and I’ve said as much to my doctor, but it seems to be true.  My Mama Pajama was right, “Life isn’t fair.”

(Aside: as I’ve gotten older, I’ve pretty much figured out that my mom was right about most things. Even about wearing comfortable underwear.  So annoying.)

So this year I’m going to make some resolutions that are easier to keep – things that are sort of on my to-do list anyway.

1. Use up bath products.  I know this seems silly, but honestly, I have a lot of half-used, and still good hair products, shampoos, lotions, and the like.  I am going to first clean house (see my Exorcist Needed post) and throw away all of my self tanning products because I finally realized after 12 years that I am not meant to be tan, and I am not dedicated enough to slather/spray/goop myself every morning or every other morning to become so.  I am then going to throw away anything that has made it through 3 moves (aka anything over 7 years old – yuck).  And then, I’m going to knock those bottles down one by one!  I am not looking forward to having to use up the “Scrunch Spray” I bought when I thought that enough goop could make my straight hair “wavy”, but resolutions aren’t supposed to be easy.

2. Freeze something.  Baby is coming in 10 weeks.  I am going to plan a few menus, and cook up a storm.  When Mr. Pickle Pumpkin was born I didn’t eat enough, and I didn’t eat well.  It is a little thing I can do to take care of myself when Baby Plum arrives.  Plus, I was lucky enough to receive a perfectly sized little chest freezer for Christmas from my parents. Please, no comments on my extreme level of excitement relative to receiving a freezer for Christmas.  The lameness factor is not lost on me, just let me revel in my little icy joy.  Great posts on prepping a freezer for a new baby can be found on Annie’s Eats and elephantitas alegres.  I’ll be using some of their recipes for sure!

3. Make something.  I have a lovely sewing machine.  I have fabric, and all sorts of sewing accessories.  I am capable of following directions.  I am in desperate need of a creative outlet.  AND I have a Home Ec teacher for a mother, and she is always just a phone call away.  I’m going to make something.  Perhaps starting with something simple, like little decorated cloth diapers for my sister.  They are made by sewing a piece of ribbon onto the diaper.  Straight lines.  That’s it.  I have a degree from the Ivy League, I should be able to handle straight lines.  Should.  Expect more  posts on my sewing adventures…

4. Read something. I have a toddler, a full time job, and will be welcoming a baby in 10 weeks.  I’m not under the illusion that I’ll be crossing a bunch of to-read books off of my list.  What I would like to do, however, is always have a book going.  It may be that I read only one book in 2012 – one. slow. page. at. a. time.  But I love to read, and books are good for me.  So that is resolution number 4.