Category Archives: rec

Reading Wednesday

Reading Wednesday

Are you on Goodreads? I am!. Why don’t you head on over and check out my reviews.

In the meantime, here are some books that Niko especially enjoyed.

What books do YOUR kids enjoy? What books do you enjoy reading to your kids? What books stand up well to the “read this book 50 times in a row” test? Hit me up in comments!

"The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish"

“The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish”

“The Day I Swapped my Dad For Two Goldfish,” by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, is the charming and seriously weird story of a kid who swaps his dad for two goldfish. His mom objects (of course) and he has to follow a chain of swaps to get his dad back. It’s a little adventure story. The illustrations are really something else. I bought this book in 1997, WELL in advance of having kids.

"Shimmer and Splash"

“Shimmer and Splash”

“Shimmer & Splash: The Sparkling World Of Sea Life,” by Jim Arnosky, is a lushly illustrated book by an artist/naturalist who really looks like he loves what he’s doing. This is a fantastic introduction to the ocean and the life in it, although it’s also very text heavy, so it can be hard to sit down and read aloud in one sitting. We usually read sections of this book, or Niko looks at it himself. Arnosky has written a lot of books about ~NATURE~ and I want to get more of them for Niko. NOTE: I won this book in a giveaway at Bebeh Blog.

"Dogs On The Bed"

“Dogs On The Bed”

“Dogs On The Bed,” by Elizabeth Bluemle & Anne Wilsdorf, is a rollicking, goofy, rhyming account of what happens when you have a bunch of dogs in your bed. It also made me miss having a dog, while being glad I’m not dealing with a bed-stealing, shedding, slobbery, fur furnace any more. A mixed bag! The illustrations are absolutely charming and expressive and the writing is playful and fun. This is a book that lends itself well to reading outloud, and expressively. I think the people who will most appreciate this book are people who love dogs and have more than one of them. A really fun read!

dinothesaurus

“Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings,” by Douglas Florian, is a playful and quirky book about dinosaurs. Unlike a lot of dinosaur books for kids, the text isn’t just rhyming. No, it’s actual straight up poetry, playing with line breaks and stresses and language. The poems are bouncy and fun, a joy to read aloud, unlike most stilted, predictable rhyming couplets you see in kidlit. The illustrations are likewise unique and crafted, vaguely reminiscent of Dave McKean’s painting-collages, but simplified. Toward the back of the book is more information about the dinosaurs mentioned as well as a bibliography of texts for more and deeper reading. If you’ve got a dinosaur lover for a kid, this book is a good addition to your library.

"It's Time For Preschool"

“It’s Time For Preschool”

“It’s Time For Preschool,” by Esmé Raji Codell & Sue Rama is a scripting book for kids entering school. A lot of kids don’t handle change or the unexpected well, and giving them a script and telling them what to expect can be very helpful. This book opened a lot of discussion and reassurance, and I’m going to pick it up again before Niko starts school this fall.

What Lives In A Shell?

What Lives In A Shell?

“What Lives In A Shell,” by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld & Helen K. Davie, is a book about shells and the animals that live in them. Some live on land, some live on water. Some are large, some are small. This early science book, designed for pre-k and kindergarteners, is a nice introduction to shelled animals. The text, and sentences, are short and engaging and the illustrations are clear and attractive. The book stands up well to repeat reads. It’s a great introduction to science book. I’m very pleased with this series.

get_wet

” I Get Wet,” by Vicki Cobb & Julia Gorton, is a solid science book about the science of water, including some fun and easy hands-on experiments kids and adults can do together. The text is simple and easy to understand, with some interesting artistic typography in places. The illustrations are fun, too.

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Adler After Dark: Totally Awesome

Adler After Dark: Totally Awesome

Thanks to IZEA, I was able to snag a friend and go to Adler After Dark yesterday night. I can’t even remember the last time I put on eyeshadow and did a thing that didn’t involve a small child, so it was a VERY welcome break. I double checked my info right before leaving and was stunned and thrilled to find out that the event was a themed Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy event.

Did I bring my towel?

Of course I did.

And then I felt like a big doof because I was the only person lugging a towel around and what kind of dork hauls a towel around with them even if there IS a HGttG event going on? But then I saw these guys:

Two guys dressed as Arthur Dent (robe, towel) at Adler After Dark's Hichhiker's Guide To The Galaxy event.

Two guys dressed as Arthur Dent (robe, towel) at Adler After Dark’s Hichhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy event.

I have not seen that book in years. <3

And then later I saw a bunch more people with towels and felt better, and used the towel as a pad to cushion my butt while sitting on stairs so it DID come in handy, as towels always do.

We hung out on the patio a bit and took some photos of the skyline, like this one:

Chicago's Skyline, taken from the patio of the Adler Planetarium.

Chicago’s Skyline, taken from the patio of the Adler Planetarium.

Chicago is so freaking gorgeous.

We also checked out the big solar system models hanging from the ceiling, like this one:

Part of the Solar System exhibit at Adler Planetarium.

Part of the Solar System exhibit at Adler Planetarium.

And we investigated the Historic Atwood Sphere which is a year long astronomy display and discussion in ten minutes. It’s a big globe of really thin metal with holes punched through it, replicating a starry sky. Living in Chicago, with all the light pollution we have, we don’t see that many stars. I remember the first time Nesko took me to my parents’ home and saw the sky, all lit up. It was impressive, a flash back to his own childhood vacations in Wisconsin. This was a nice flash back. Also: some of the stars portrayed are no longer visible to us because they’ve died and their light no longer reaches us. HISTORY. The Sphere usually involves a special ticket that cost $6, I’m really glad we were able to see it.

One thing I thought was really cool was an Armillary that transforms into an Astrolabe. How cool is that? Very cool.

Armillary

Armillary

Astrolabe

Astrolabe

There was so much to see, and we didn’t manage to see it all. There were science talks and displays and shows, so much going on!

We also got to see a special sneak preview of Project 891 Theatre Company’s “Jim and Dave(‘s blood meets Jupiter),” a funny buddy comedy intergalactic road trip musical that will be premiering in… August? Maybe? I couldn’t find information about upcoming shows, but we have tentative plans to check it out. It shared a lot of effortless-seeming absurd comedy with HGttG.

I haven’t been to Adler in about five years, and forgot just how great it is. The 146 bus drops off at the front door, but there’s also a small parking lot close by (we paid $13 for night time parking, I think it’s a little more for day time parking). If you’re interested in visiting Adler, their admission information page is here and really clear to read, unlike some museums we’ve looked at recently. They have a lot of super fun looking special events. Niko’s big love right now is Dinosaurs, with Trains a close second, but outer space is not far behind at all. I foresee a membership to Adler in our future.

I really love Chicago, and a big part of that love is how many different awesome museums we have. Sometimes Niko watches “Sid the Science Kid” and the kids troop off to a “Science Center” and I feel a little bummed because we don’t have those in Chicago. But duh, we have That Adler Planetarium, The Museum of Science and Industry, The Field Museum, The Shedd Aquarium, and more.

I am super, super glad I got to attend an Adler After Dark event. I’m excited about upcoming ones, and would love to take Nesko to them as a recurring date night or something. OMG NERRRRRRRDS. They happen once a month, on the third Thursday. Admission is only $12 in advance ($9 for members) or $17 at the door ($12 for members) and includes access to all the exhibits (like the Historic Atwood Sphere, which usually is an additional $6 ticket) and sky shows AND if you have your act together and get there between 6:30 and 7:45 you can check out the Doane Observatory (if you are the type of person who’s late to things, though, you can reserve a space ahead of time).

If you’re in or near Chicago, check this out! It’s well worth a special trip. Just remember it’s 21 and up only, so leave any kids someplace else.

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Follow Friday: Parenting Blogs I Read Regularly

Follow Friday: Parenting Blogs I Read Regularly

I was going to do 5 parenting blogs that I read regularly, but as I was combing through my fairly large list I felt bad about stopping at just 5. So here’s 10 for you, which is twice the work I was originally going to do, but I love you, so enjoy. This… is how I cater parties I throw, too. It’s why my fridge is full of leftovers. Why just make a cake when I can also make cupcakes (in a different flavor), and a pie, and some apples with caramel dip, oh and I haven’t made brownies in a while! What I’m saying is, I like to feed people both food and weblinks. So enjoy.

  • Bebehblog is a supercute blog crammed full of parenting stuff, adorable toddler/baby antics (oh crap! she has two babies! SHE IS OUTNUMBERED), craft stuff, recipes, and joyful celebrations of veggies and how awesome they taste. She is a superstar who, unlike SOME PEOPLE (coughmecough) updates really regularly and consistently and has a general high level of quality.
  • Blue Milk is blogging from Australia, someplace I’d LOVE to return to someday. She’s a feminist parent of two who talks about not being married to her partner, child raising, feminist issues, social justice stuff, and Australian politics. Not in that order. In addition to sharp, incisive writing she also posts photos of going to the beach when it’s cold as fuck and winter where I’m at, so that’s a nice break in the day and a reminder that the sun will eventually return.
  • BabyBabyLemon is pretty much always entertaining. A bonus puller-inner for me is the fact that her kid is about the same age as my kid. Also, they live someplace warm so I get total envy in the winter and then get smug in the summer when it’s not as hot here as it is there (except for this summer which sucked several kinds of ass, what the hell Chicago). She posts a lot and somehow manages to make them all quality. HOW DO THESE PEOPLE DO IT. I have no idea.
  • Tiffany Ard is an artist who is married to an artist (silversmith) who is homeschooling two of the most awesome kids on the planet. Also: they have a dog. She’s smart and funny and super creative and I want to sit in on the classes she teaches. She and her husband sell a lot of prints and posters suitable for both kids AND adults if you are kind of nerdy and like science.
  • Love That Max is primarily about celebrating Max, who has cerebral palsy and likes spaghetti and car washes and the color purple, but also is about celebrating his sister Sabrina and about navigating the world of having a kid with special needs… AND about navigating the world of having a kid WITHOUT special needs. This is one of those blogs that is virtually always thought provoking and often helpful, and has really great writing. Check it out!
  • Mutant Supermodel is a single parent raising 3 kids while working a full time job and crocheting and promoting community among single moms online and wow, the list just doesn’t stop, does it? Check out her long, insightful posts about parenting, singleparenting, finance, and crafting. And other things.
  • Swistle gave me the most genius idea ever, involving birthday parties and how to limit them. She’s actually full of a lot of ideas, especially about baby names.
  • Tin Roof, Rusted is a blog by another Chicagoan, which alone should be enough to recommend it. One of the saddest points in my life was when I realized Leah lived like a handful of blocks from me… and was moving north. BOO. Well. She probably would have found me boring or outre or something anyway. Maybe it’s just as well. I can confine my social ineptness to the internet and she’ll never see that sometimes I wear pants with giant holes in the backpockets like it ain’t no thing. Except now I’ve mentioned it and she reads my blog so she knows. Let me dig this hole a little bit deeper. Anyway, she has a gorgeous toddler and an adorable infant and she works full time, which most parent bloggers I read don’t. So where does she find time to blog also? I have no idea, but possibly gnomes are involved somehow. She’s also very crafty and clever and funny and OH GOD WHY DID YOU MOVE WE COULD HAVE BEEN BFFS FOREVER. (probably a lie) (oh god how desperate am I)
  • Uppercase Woman is possibly the most popular blog I’m mentioning here, and also is like weirdly super hated on the internet a lot, which is super weird. SUPER. WEIRD. Like, I can kind of see backlash against Dooce because she makes more money than god, and against the Pioneer Woman because she was an affluent woman who married Wealth and paid a bunch of people to get her bloggery off the ground and her recipes are kind of mediocre and her photos suck but hey! But Cecily? She’s just a woman with opinions, who used to be a drug addict… oh. I see. She’s not perfect. Well! She’s an entertaining and thought provoking writer and I often disagree very much with what she says… but I also agree with other stuff she says. You might like her! Give her a try! She has a cute kid.
  • When The Flames Go Up is a parenting blog written by two people who used to be married and then got divorced and now are co-parenting as divorced people. Does that sound potentially awkward to you? It sure does to me! It’s really interesting to see how two people who had a fairly rancorous divorce are handling co-parenting their kids in the most healthy way they can. Moxie and Laid Off Dad are both really fantastic writers who care a lot about their kids, and are living proof that you don’t have to put your kids into the middle of arguments with your ex.

What parenting blogs do YOU read? Drop me some links! If you WRITE a parenting blog, comment and let me know where you are so I can read you.

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Parenting Carnival of Love 3 of 7: Amalah

Parenting Carnival of Love 3 of 7: Amalah

Amy “Amalah” Corbett Storch isn’t quite the household name that Heather “Dooce” Armstrong is, nor is she able to light her gold plated cigars with thousand dollar bills like Ms Armstrong does (every parent blogger’s dream, right?). But she’s been blogging a really dang long time, and is all over the place not just on her personal blog but also on Mamapop, The Advice Smack Down, Zero to Forty, and Moxiebird. This person has something to say, and she says it well, with humor and style and empathy.

Amalah has dealt with disordered eating, depression and anxiety (kind of ongoing, actually), infertility, the birth of a kid who as it turns out is non-neuro-typical, the birth of a second kid, and currently a third pregnancy. Three kids! How do people do that? I’ve been reading her blog since just before she had her oldest (brought in, like a lot of people, by The Company Cookbook) and her blog is one of the ones I skip ahead to on my reading list.

Amalah is very helpful if you are dealing with a stressful parenting issue, especially if you’re trying to sort out the situation surrounding a child with special needs– getting tested and diagnosed, dealing with insurance companies, getting an IEP and acceptable care, that sort of thing. Her stories of her difficulty getting her kid what he needs are shocking. Amy and her husband are college educated, she communicates for a living, they are white and relatively affluent (to the point where they could drop tens of thousands of dollars unexpectedly on tuition for him), and their kid still isn’t always getting the help and intervention he needs. What do parents without their resources do? It’s awful, an awful situation and should be a wake up call to politicians who keep slashing funding for kids (and adults) with special needs. That digression aside, Amy is also helpful with non-special needs issues. Like, what if your baby won’t stop crying and you’re about to lose it?

I had serious anger issues when I was younger, like, unmitigated rage issues. Dangerous times. And that lingered, and left me worried about being able to care for a kid. Then, long before I was a parent or even pregnant, Amy wrote about a time when she came very close to losing it when her infant wouldn’t stop crying and she was at the end of her rope and tired and worn out physically and emotionally and afraid she was going to pick up her baby and shake him and just… you know. She was about to go there, that place parents live in dread of going.

She put her kid in the crib, closed the door, walked away, and called her husband.

Granted, she HAD someone to call, a situation not all parents are in. But she wrote with such honesty about such a raw and painful experience, such a dark time, and I read that and thought “Oh yeah, it’s possible to almost go there and still handle yourself and come through on the other side.” And when I did get pregnant, I remembered that, and it’s helped. It was very close to life changing for me, the recognition that other people sometimes lose it; this terrible honesty helped me feel less alone as a person and it feels like I have a bit of armor now as a parent. Kids aren’t easy. They’ll push you to the end of your limits sometimes. But it’s possible to survive that.

Amalah’s been through some tough shit (as most… all?… parents have), and she’s come through, and her kids are awesome. You can taste the pain in her writing sometimes, but you can also taste the joy. And I love that about her, her writing. It’s fantastic. Even when there’s darkness, there’s still, ultimately, hope.

Suzanne left a brief comment on twitter the other day about how the parenting blogosphere isn’t always as supportive as the crafting internetazone is, which I could totally see, for a number of reasons. In the interest of Being The Change I Want To See, I thought I’d dedicate this week to pointing people toward other parenting blogs and resources, and encouraging people to comment and form a greater sense of community. Consider this week a chance to recommend parenting bloggers and sites you find helpful, and an excuse to come out of lurkdom and leave comments (which are like the life blood of bloggers) at sites you don’t normally comment on, or don’t comment OFTEN on. If you do write up a recommendation of another blog or site, hop on over here and leave a link to your blog’s entry down below.

Let’s spread the LOVE people! We’re all in this TOGETHER.



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Parenting Carnival of Love 2 of 7: Tiffany Ard

Parenting Carnival of Love 2 of 7: Tiffany Ard

Tiffany Ard blogs at Electric Boogaloo and sells Nerdy Baby gifts and gear, for your nerdy baby. (there is also a $2 iPhone app for alphabet and number science concepts flash cards which OMG are all super adorable, smart, and funny and well worth $2.)

Tiffany is:

  • A totally awesome super cute artist
  • A big old nerd. Big. Nerd. The nerdiest.
  • Kind of disorganized and constantly looking for the One True Solution, which I can really identify with because I’m the same way.
  • In love with pointy, nervous dogs. One might opine that, in a previous life, she WAS a pointy, nervous dog. (In a previous life, I was obvious a walrus: fat, bristly-mustachioed, loves the water, irritatingly loud, totally awesome.)
  • Home schooling her kids in a creative, comprehensive way that makes me think “oh hey, that’s totally awesome, I could do that” until I remember that I’m incredibly lazy
  • In love with color
  • All around smart and funny and insightful with cute kids and lots of nerdart
  • Married to a silversmith, how cool is that?

Tiffany talks about her kids a lot, and about parenting them and teaching them, and about general life stuff, and about art, and just… all sorts of things. She’s got a laid back conversational tone that I really dig. You should check her blog out.

Suzanne left a brief comment on twitter the other day about how the parenting blogosphere isn’t always as supportive as the crafting internetazone is, which I could totally see, for a number of reasons. In the interest of Being The Change I Want To See, I thought I’d dedicate this week to pointing people toward other parenting blogs and resources, and encouraging people to comment and form a greater sense of community. Consider this week a chance to recommend parenting bloggers and sites you find helpful, and an excuse to come out of lurkdom and leave comments (which are like the life blood of bloggers) at sites you don’t normally comment on, or don’t comment OFTEN on. If you do write up a recommendation of another blog or site, hop on over here and leave a link to your blog’s entry down below.

Let’s spread the LOVE people! We’re all in this TOGETHER.




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Parenting Carnival of Love 1 of 7: Bebehblog

Parenting Carnival of Love 1 of 7: Bebehblog

“Some things you do for money, and some you do for love, love, love.”

(If we’re gonna be friends, you really have to listen to John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. You don’t have to OMG LOVE THEM TRU LUV 4EVA!!!! but seriously, listen. Tallahassee and The Sunset Tree are my two favorite albums.)

About two years ago– maybe sliiiiiiiightly longer? maybe not?– an e-Friend of mine said “hey, this smart, funny friend of mine has a smart, funny blog about how she’s having a baby. You like smart, funny people and things, check it out.” And that smart, funny friend was Suzanne of Bebehblog. Two babies later (on her end, not mine), I’m glad I started reading her. She’s fun, funny, insightful, creative, and often thought provoking. And she has cute kids. And an awesome house. And the best dog ever. Thanks, MKP. ONE MILLION HEARTS FOR YOU.

Some of the things I like about Suzanne are her clear, humorous writing style; her photos; her regular schedule (seriously, she’s one of the blogs I check regularly. Got a full google reader feed? Skip to bebehblog); and her honesty. Life with kids is hard. It’s frustrating. It’s really rewarding sometimes, but other times? How many goldfish crackers can one kid grind into the carpet? Suzanne doesn’t paint an overly rosy view of being a stay at home parent, but she also doesn’t veer into LOL WORST PARENT EVER LOL WHERES MAH BOOZE GOSH KIDS ARE AWFUL kind of tacky blogging. It’s very human, it’s very relate-able, and it’s really helpful to see another stay at home parent struggle with the same boring crap and not letting it ultimately get her down. Suzanne feels like she could live down the street from me, and she wouldn’t be totally judge-y that I answer the door for our playdate wearing yoga pants with playdough in my hair and a cubic foot of megablocks scattered over the bathroom floor. Just a little judge-y. And then we’d eat some pie together while our kids threw cars at the wall and it’d be ok and we’d have some laughs. And then she’d bust out the perfect hair accessory that made my life perfect and everything would be ok.

Is that last bit a little weird? Sorry.

Anyway, Suzanne totally rocks, and if you aren’t already you should read her blog. She inspired me to start a cooking blog (something I’ve been talking about doing for literally years now), and to take parenting blogging a little more seriously. And to give headbands another chance. Is there nothing she can’t do? Open your heart to her and have her heal your life, too. Ok. That’s really weird. Sorry. I probably shouldn’t have eaten quite as many snickers peanut butter fun bars as I did. But for reals, check her out.

Suzanne left a brief comment on twitter the other day about how the parenting blogosphere isn’t always as supportive as the crafting internetazone is, which I could totally see, for a number of reasons. In the interest of Being The Change I Want To See, I thought I’d dedicate this week to pointing people toward other parenting blogs and resources, and encouraging people to comment and form a greater sense of community. Consider this week a chance to recommend parenting bloggers and sites you find helpful, and an excuse to come out of lurkdom and leave comments (which are like the life blood of bloggers) at sites you don’t normally comment on, or don’t comment OFTEN on. If you do write up a recommendation of another blog or site, hop on over here and leave a link to your blog’s entry down below.

Let’s spread the LOVE people! We’re all in this TOGETHER.




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