Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Good Night, Gorilla

I have to take a minute to post about this book. I am so so so so happy to finally have our own copy. It's one I've wanted since J was born but somehow always forget to grab whenever we buy books.

Last week when our power was out, we spent Monday morning at Barnes & Noble. They had everything we needed that morning: coffee, blueberry scones, and lots and lots of books! J had so much fun--I think it was the longest he's ever been happy in a store!

So, Good Night, Gorilla was one of the books we bought, particularly because they had the oversize board book version as opposed to the small one. With illustrations as detailed and attractive as these, the small board book just doesn't cut it! After lunch we read the book with J and when I finished he picked it up and walked over to Nina, handed it to her and said, "Read." When she finished, he walked it back over to me and commanded me to read it again as well. He really is enthralled by it. It's taught him some new vocabulary words (hyena, flashlight, armadillo, and 'ooo-paper', which is J's way of saying zookeeper).

On top of being just a really fun book to read together, Good Night, Gorilla is also a culmination of all sorts of pre-reading skills. It forces parents to make reading a conversation, using dialogic reading; it expands children's vocabulary; and reinforces the idea that the pictures of a book tell a story. By talking through the story and asking questions as we read, we are giving J the skills he'll eventually need to read a story, grasp the sequence of events, and be able to retell it. Amazing!

A Whole New World

Well, at our house we have entered a whole new arena of play activities for J. He's been so happy with cars and trucks, books and blocks for some time now. However, it's like something kicked in around 20 months and he's become so interested and excited by little art projects: sculpting with playdough, drawing with crayons and stamping animals. In her blog, the artful parent, Jean posted about creating a portfolio/picture book of her daughter's art projects. I LOVE this idea and hope to do it once we have some more artwork from J.

I found a recipe for playdough online and have made several batches of it over the last month. It's very easy and I feel better knowing that if he gets any in his mouth, the ingredients are all edible. I thought perhaps the homemade type wouldn't last very long, but with storing it in a ziploc bag, it's kept its consistency for a few weeks now. The (super easy) recipe is :
1 c. flour
1/4 c. salt
1/3 c. water
1 t. oil
few drops food coloring

Aside from the art projects, the other new realm of play we are entering into is pretend play. It's just little things right now, like J will find an empty cup or a lid to something and he'll pretend to scoop something into it and then eat it. It's so cute and really makes us realize we've got a toddler on our hands now! I'm looking for ways to help foster and encourage it. I think we may get him a play kitchen for his birthday.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fall begins tomorrow!

And we embraced the cooler weather by going apple picking on Friday. Officially, this was J's second trip to Lynd's Fruit Farm, but this time he was old enough to help with the picking...and eating. :)

He was totally into it. To keep him from eating apples off the ground, I had to tell him that those apples were yucky. So, we picked a nice one for him to eat and as we wandered around the orchards, he continued to point to the fallen apples and remind me that they were yucky.

While we filled our bag, J spoke the same words over and over between bites: apple, red apple, big apple, big bite, apple tree, apple, yucky. Maybe the repetition was helping him cement the experience in his mind?

It was really neat to see him process such a new and fascinating experience. I want to go back in a couple weeks--both for the fun, and for more apples! Yum!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I am awed by this book. It's a collection of works by Charley Harper, an Ohio artist who just died last year. He called his style "minimal realism" and it is just lovely. The images are detailed, complex, and interesting while at the same time simple. It is a remarkable effect.

The book itself is also effective in presenting the alphabet to very young readers. The simplicity of the text makes it all the more easy for youngsters to make the connection between the letter and the corresponding image on the opposite page. Because of these qualities and just the sheer beauty of the book, I included it in my book review column for the October issue of Columbus Parent. I'm hoping it will be a hit with families who haven't yet discovered it.

J has picked up several new vocabulary words thanks to this book: hen, koala bear, web, and yak! The other day while scoping out Amazon, I noticed that there is a forthcoming Charley Harper's 123's book available for pre-order. I'll definitely be checking that out!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ready to Read!

As a mama librarian, I LOVE LOVE LOVE to read with kids, especially my little guy. This week we purchased a few new books and J is enthralled. We (FINALLY) have our own copy of Good Night, Gorilla, the large board book edition, and when we got home from the bookstore, J sat down with me and had me read it three times straight. I also bought First the Egg, which is a Caldecott Honor book from this year that is wonderful--simple yet unique and fun.

J has recently fallen in love with Maisy books. In the past, he wasn't especially interested in them, but for the last couple of weeks he constantly requests a Maisy book. The favorites right now are Maisy's Colors (or as he calls it, "May May Tolor") and More Fun with Maisy.

There's a phrase in Maisy's Colors that reads, "blue dolphin in a blue sea" and for some silly reason reading this line brings on a fit of giggles for J. It's so random and we can't figure it out, but it's also so funny that we've begun to read that page with extra emphasis or in a silly voice.

But, my most proud reading moment with J happened last night. We were reading stories before bed when J pointed to a capital A on the page and said, "triangle"! A perfect example that J is developing Letter Knowledge--a pre-reading skill!

Friday, September 12, 2008

food fotos

Somewhat inexplicably, I am suddenly interested in food photography. Of course, who doesn't love poring over a gorgeous cookbook, feeling hungrier by the minute? I will not use a cookbook without photos. What's the point? Seeing what a recipe looks like when it's all brought together has inspired me to try foods that I'd normally shy away from: a spinach and gruyere puff, sweet potato and leek casserole, chorizo fritatta, pork apple and potato saute, black bean brownies, to name a few.

The images alongside recipes in Everyday Food and the most recent cookbook I purchased, Better Homes and Gardens New Dieter's Cookbook, rekindled an interest in food photography. There are some great chef/photographer/bloggers out there, and a few months ago I met a local one. She stopped in the library and needed some help. As we were talking, she told me about the brand new blog she was setting up, the focus of which was to be on eating beautifully and eating well. I was totally impressed. Check out the Veg Lounge.

Another inspiration behind this sudden "hobby" is the newfound luxury of going out back to the garden, picking a few tomatoes, tossing them with some ingredients from the farmer's market or CSA and then eating a lovely savory healthy meal. Next year, we plan to really step up our garden from the two tomato plants and two pepper plants we have now. I want squash and/or zucchini, roma tomatoes, basil, cilantro and spinach as a bare minimum.

Well, this has been my roundabout introduction to my very first (and probably embarrassing) attempts at creating a photo-journal of meals we make. Hopefully this will serve as a benchmark from which I can improve, especially if I upgrade to a better camera!

three cheese tomato basil pizza; organic french baguette with basil-parmesan dipping oil

whole wheat waffles with cinnamon and blueberries

Day 2

Well, being up until 1:30am setting up this blog last night left me struggling this morning to get J and I to a playdate on time. Luckily, he slept in and I was able to get ready quickly, although I had to go a little heavy on my Bobbi Brown under eye concealer!

The playdate was very relaxing, which in hindsight seems miraculous considering there were 7 children under the age of 5 and 4 moms! The rain outside encouraged us to veg out and gab over brunch and lots of coffee. The older kids pretended to be firefighters putting out fires, and the younger ones played with trains, blocks, and pop-up toys.

The mamas talked about motherhood, families, our kids' personalities, transitions like school or a new baby, and some fun stuff, but it was an utterly supportive and nonjudgmental conversation. I LOVE that. I am very lucky to have a great number of friends who can appreciate different parenting styles and dynamics. I am also comforted that they, and their kids, will be a part of J's life.

We came home about noon for lunch and then J wanted to play with his stamps and stickers. He was content in his high chair for about 20 minutes, and I snapped a few cute photos. And, he actually posed! This is a new feat! I asked him to show me his stickers and he obligingly straightened his arms and smiled up at me!

The Beginning

I am relatively new to the blogosphere. Blogging is something that I haven't given much thought to over the last few years. There are some great bloggers out there and I enjoy reading a few occasionally, but it really hasn't occurred to me that I might have something to blog about.

That is, until recently. I'm finding myself relying on the computer more and more these days. Online banking, photo sharing, email, instant messaging and shopping are just some of the draws for me. Second, my work as a librarian is very centered around computers and technology. I recently created a blog for a project at work, which has left me feeling more at ease with the idea of sharing bits and pieces of my life with the rest of the world. ;)

The real "push", though, is that recently I feel the desire to have a space--one space where I can bring together my different interests and also explore new ones. The last two years have brought significant change and I find myself being pulled in many different directions and into some new realms. I'd like to use this space to flush out some of my ideas and interests, namely writing, parenting, photography, literature, and technology.