Friday, October 31, 2008

Printz Discussion

I am very excited to be participating in the Printz Award discussion at CML this year! At the December Youth Services meeting each year, librarians gather for round table discussions of possible award-winning books of the year.

Each year, one of the three "biggies" (Printz, Newbery, or Caldecott) has a meeting devoted to it. Collectively, staff compiles a list of possible winners of the year. Librarians are assigned to a table, at which they will participate in a discussion of 5 or 6 titles. This year there are some great contenders.

My reading assignments are:

  • Shift by Jennifer Bradbury

  • Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen

  • The Fold by An Na

  • Ringside, 1925 by Jen Bryant

  • The Compound by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen

I'm really pleased with this list. I read Shift over the summer and very much enjoyed it (even included it with my Columbus Parent reviews). The Compound was already on my to-read list on Goodreads. Sarah Dessen is an author I've not yet had a chance to read, but one that I watch and often recommend to teen girls. An Na is brilliant, and Ringside, 1925 sounds like an interesting historical novel.

I am ready to get started!

Trick or Treat

Whew! What a fun-filled day! J (a.k.a. Frankenstein) had an exciting and sugar-filled day today on his second Halloween. We visited Daddy at school and "made his day", while we cheered the kids on during the Walk-A-Thon.

The bank teller surprised J with a sucker, which he then clutched triumphantly for hours, shouting "Happy Halloween Hucker!" At Panera, Mama splurged on his favorite treat--a blueberry muffin, while the costumed workers fawned over J and gave him cookies.

We burned some of the energy off playing in the yard after lunch. J slid down the slide and played his new favorite game, hayride. Despite all the sugar, he did take a nap, albeit a shorter one than usual, and woke up demanding "more hucker"...

The day ended blissfully. The evening was cool and crisp, jack'o'lanterns were lit, and we were able to relax and enjoy the excitement in the air during Trick or Treat.
J immediately caught on to the concept of passing out candy--he was a pro. As trick-or-treaters made their way up our driveway, J rummaged through the candy bowl seeking the good stuff--he wasn't going to be caught dead passing out tootsie roll pops or smarties. Nope; he pulled out a Nestle Crunch bar everytime.

Later, however, a thought occurred to me--perhaps this was J's way of hoarding all the tootsie roll pops for himself! At any one time, he had two in his hand and was coveting the ones Daddy and I were eating as well. When we refused to let him have anymore, he went through the bowl, grabbed a couple, bent the sticks, and then pronounced them 'broken', as if that meant we would acquiesce.
What a smartie...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Emerson quote

"We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, October 27, 2008

Big Boy

Mama Journal Entry

One day recently Tommy told Rebecca that J is "like him now". I guess meaning that J is not a baby anymore, but a big boy and a friend. J and Tommy (5) play so well together. They are like brothers except they never fight. J does whatever Tommy does--he copycats and likes to make Tommy laugh. It's cute and fun to watch, but it makes me wonder, will playing with someone so much older make J grow up faster? His play is already more imaginative than I expected or thought possible for a 20 month-old. Last week at Rebecca's he found a Rubbermaid stepstool in her kitchen. He carried it to the front room where he was playing trains and used it as a tunnel, chugging the trains along under it and saying "dark tunnel".

And ever since we went to the pumpkin patch and took a hayride with Tommy, J plays hayride at home. He pushes his highchair around the kitchen, or climbs on a chair, or stands on books or a pillow all the while announcing, "Hayride ready! Hayride comin'! C'mon Tommy!"

Like any parent, I hope to do as much as I can to foster his imagination. Yesterday I decided that the key to encouraging imaginative play is to provide J with new experiences. Toys are fun and can be imaginative, but experience gets in deeper and takes root in the mind and the imagination. Had he not felt the thrill of bouncing through the pumpkin patch on a bale of hay on the back of a tractor, he would not be tearing the house apart right now using his Lego table as a 'hayride'.

Watching such a little guy pretend in such a huge way really strengthens the value that my husband and I share of using our money and time on activities rather than things.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Easy as ABC

Let me first just say that I do not intend for this blog to be a place where I constantly brag about my child and chronicle every little accomplishment or activity in his daily life. This is not my online version of a Christmas card newsletter!

However, J has made some astonishing connections recently and as his mama and a Ready-to-Read-promoting librarian, I must stop and take note. Although I am not a fan of all of the Leap Frog toys and their attempts to digitize and animate every single reading- or literacy-based activity, I have purchased a few of their toys and J's been happy with them. One is the fridge alphabet. There is a magnet for each letter of the alphabet, and when you put a letter into the box, Leap Frog sings a song about that letter, explaining what letter it is and what sound(s) it makes. J has fun with this toy intermittently and I feel good just having the letters up on the fridge, assuming he is absorbing knowledge/recognition of them peripherally as he goes about eating his breakfast.

While coloring and doodling with J (a favorite pasttime of his), Daddy and I have gotten into the habit of drawing letters that stand for certain people's names. We draw a D for Daddy, an M for Mama, N for Nina, P for Papa, T for Tommy and L for Lucia. He is genuinely interested and so we continue to do it occasionally. I am not a hardcore drill sergeant-mama who wants her child to read at age 3 and go to college at age 14. But, I figure there is no harm in introducing J to print and words around us, as long as I am not placing any pressure on him to recall the information.

But, lo and behold, he has made the connections between these letters and the names we've told him they represent! We realize that now he is voluntarily on the lookout for alphabet letters, whether he is looking at a book, a toy, or the cereal box in the morning at breakfast. If he notices a letter we've talked about, he identifies it excitedly and repeatedly. "D! D, Daddy!", he'll exclaim.

I feel so proud of him. I share my enthusiasm with him, but remain committed to my desire that he will be our pacemaker, our line-leader, as we navigate through the experiences and "teachable moments" of his early childhood.


A very special book: Elizabeth by Liesel Moak Skorpen.

This book was given to my mom for Mother's Day in 1980. She loved it immediately and began reading it to me when I was a toddler. It was a favorite of mine throughout my childhood, and according to my mom it was one of the first books I began to read (memorize) before I actually could read.

I loved the eventual bond that Kate discovers with her doll, Elizabeth. Although she was not the fanciest doll that Kate could have received for Christmas, she was still a very special doll once Kate began to love her, a theme evident in another of my favorite childhood books, The Velveteen Rabbit.

My mom recently dug Elizabeth out from safekeeping in her attic and gave it to me. We've read it with J, but I do hope someday I have a daughter to share it with.

The two illustrations below are my favorites from the book. The muted neutrals and the intense oranges and yellows really reflect the colors I recall from the late 70s and early 80s. :) There is also such depth and texture to these illustrations; the look is simple, yet also very detailed.

freakin cute frankenstein

Here's our plan for J's Halloween costume, courtesy of Parenting magazine!

Freakin' Cute Frankenstein Halloween Costume

A no-sew costume any parent can make

By Ellen Goldberg, Parenting

You'll need:

  • 1 yard green felt
  • Fabric glue
  • Silver-painted spools
  • A scrap red felt
  • Faux fur
  • Black sweatpants
  • Gray T-shirt
  • Dark sports jacket

Hat: Cut a piece of green felt long enough to wrap around your child's head and 12 to 16 inches wide. Fold in half lengthwise so the hat is 6 to 8 inches tall; glue sides together to form a cylinder. Cut two more pieces of green felt about 6 inches wide and 8 inches long to create the neckpiece. Glue one strip to each side of the hat on the inside; glue silver spools in the middle of each piece for neck bolts (you'll tuck the ends inside his shirt or jacket). Cut a "scar" out of red felt, and glue to the hat. Place faux fur across the top, and glue in place around edges. Trim to desired style.

Body: Dress child in sweatpants, and cut jagged edges at the bottom. Top with T-shirt and jacket.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lynd's Fruit Farm Take 2

Sunday was a gorgeous fall day and we took advantage by heading out to Lynd's again, this time for apples AND pumpkins.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

a new meaning for "dundee"

I'm not exactly sure when this started, but sometime in the last week, dundee has acquired a new meaning. It still often means "give me that", but it's now the word that J uses when he doesn't know what to call something. He also uses it as if it means "I don't know" when I ask him a question and he's unsure of how to respond.

I may just be an ever-doting mama, but this is really fascinating to me. Maybe every child has their own dundee. I don't know. It makes me wish I knew more about language development and linguistics. I took a couple of classes in college towards my Sociology minor that touched on these topics and I was intrigued then as well. (At least, until I learned that area of study also involved a LOT of statistics classes.)

In my career at the library, much attention has been paid to language development, vocabulary, and literacy in children as encouraging children's progress toward these milestones is one of the primary goals of storytime. I remember reading articles about how babies who are just weeks old will show preference to someone speaking in their native language as opposed to a foreign one. How astounding!

While on the subject of language and words, I want to take note of some of the impressive words and ideas J has mastered in the last week or two:

  • In his ever-observant way, he astutely commented "big tree fall down" while we were walking by remnants of the wind storm. I think this may have been his first sentence!
  • He completely shocked us by telling us that a cricket says "chirp chirp". (I've no clue how that seeped in--we've not even read The Very Quiet Cricket yet!)
  • Phrases: he'll overhear us use one and immediately attempt it and tuck it away for later use; for example, "on the way", "all the time", "good girl Maggie", "oh my", "all better", "hold on tight".

In a nutshell, I suppose I should just say that J attempts to say whatever he hears. And I do mean WHATEVER he hears. Today while we picnicked outside of the library, he slyly said "stoo-pee bee" while Daddy swatted at the air muttering "stupid bee".

Harvest Time

This week we harvested more veggies from our small (yet quite fertile) garden out back. J has so much fun in the outdoors, and it was clear that he felt so important helping Daddy pick tomatoes and peppers. He clutched one tomato the entire time we were out that evening, occasionally stopping whatever he was doing to very deliberately and seriously close his eyes and smell it (like he sees Mama and Daddy do).

The brisk air felt invigorating and we spent a good hour outside walking, playing, cleaning up the yard and picking up the "pokey balls" that fall from our birch tree.

Finally, Papa and Nina arrived with pizza and J raced back down the street and up the driveway to greet them.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hot off the press!

I've been (somewhat) patiently waiting for this day to arrive: the first time I see my name in print! The October issue of Columbus Parent hit the newsstands last week, and with it my book reviews!

I loved this experience from start to finish: poring over PW scoping out forthcoming titles, reserving tons of books on my library card, breaking the rule: don't judge a book by its cover, reading the books over and over again-with and without J as an audience, selecting unique enjoyable titles, and then writing, writing, editing, and rewriting until I had concise attention-grabbing book reviews! I can't wait to do it again.