Monthly Archives: July 2011

www Wednesdays – July 27, 2011

WWW Wednesdays

Today is WWW Wednesdays and it’s time to give you an update on what books the kids and I have been keeping on our bookshelf. Lots of fun reading going on!

My bookshelf

Bossypants by Tina Fey– What I’m currently reading
I’m almost halfway through Tina Fey’s “Bossypants and I’ve laughed at least once on each page. It’s refreshing to read the story of an unpretentious celebrity with a “normal” childhood. I can’t wait to read her take on motherhood. I think after reading her book, I’ll like Tina Fey even more!

– What I recently finished reading
“The Talented Mr Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith. Who said you can’t get away from murder? Mr Ripley is quite a talented con man indeed. It’s interesting to realize that, even by using the third-person narrative, Patricia Highsmith helps you understand what’s going on in Ripley’s mind at all times – the fears, the struggles, the paranoia, the egomania, the plain insanity. And yet, I almost found myself rooting for Ripley, even though everything he did was so, so wrong. I’ll definitely read the other Ripley books and I hope they’re just as good as this one.

– What I think I’ll read next
I’m not sure about my next read, so maybe you can help me pick. I have two books waiting for me on the bookshelf:
“Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” by Rebecca Wells and

 “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron.
I’m sure they’re both excellent but which one should I read first?

My kids’ bookshelf

Marsupial Sue presents the runaway pancake by John Lithgow– What they’re currently reading
A whole bunch of John Lithgow books! Their favorite has to be “Marsupial Sue Presents the Runaway Pancake”, which comes with a CD of Lithgow reading his story in front of a live audience of young children. With the funny song by the runaway pancake, children’s laughter and John Lithgow’s hilarious narrative, my kids can’t have too much of it. It’s actually the first thing they ask for when they get up in the morning, and it keeps them company while they eat breakfast (read my previous post on eating and sitting down and you’ll understand why this book is a lifesaver).

A few other favorites from Lithgow are “Micawber” (the squirrel who appreciates art) and “Marsupial Sue” (the original).

– What they recently finished reading
“No laughing, no smiling, no giggling” by James Stevenson – a very funny, interacting book. I dare you to read it without laughing, smiling or giggling!
“Someday we’ll have very good manners” by Harriet Ziefert – great entertaining book showing the good manners we all have to learn as we grow up, comparing them to little kids’ lack of manners.

– What I think they’ll read next
I’ve reordered the Madeline books as we enjoyed reading them almost a year ago. We’ve watched some of the videos (they’re OK, not great) so it would be great to go back to the original stories and illustrations.

What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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Please sit down and eat!

Jumping boys by Madaise - Flicker Creative Commons license

Jumping boys by Madaise - Flicker Creative Commons license

Please sit down and eat. I must repeat this sentence 20 to 30 times a day. And no, this is not an overstatement on my part. Every meal at our house starts with the same prompt: “please sit down and eat”. After the kids have gotten up a few times, it turns into “come here and sit down to eat”. It’s all downhill from there and I usually end up barking “SIT DOWN ALREADY!”. And we’re not even halfway through the meal.

I have a problem. A meal eating problem. A serious and exhausting problem. My kids won’t sit down to eat. If they’re hungry, they’ll cooperate and get to the table when prompted. Their buttocks will touch the seat of the chair for just a few minutes when they decide to take off with some mind of their own. I swear the buttocks control their bodies, because my kids will walk aimlessly around the room until I remind them to come back to the table. It was never a problem while we used high chairs and boosters we could strap the kids in. But let’s be realistic, no five-year-old will fall for this trick again!

I’ve mostly solved this problem at dinnertime. We don’t have cable TV so the kids can’t plop themselves in front of the idiot box hours on end. Instead they get to watch DVDs during dinner. Curious George, Elmo, Blue’s Clues and Charlie & Lola help them stay seated long enough to eat their meal. I usually sit down with them and have dinner too, and we get to discuss the video we’re watching. I know all the experts advise children to not eat and watch TV at the same time, but they clearly don’t have to feed my kids every night. I draw the line of video watching at dinner, so breakfast and lunch are still no-sitting zones.

I’m not sure what my kids’ problem is. My youngest is often the hungry one so he’ll sit down promptly. His temporary state of hunger will entice him to make a dent in his meal but as he gets satisfied, he’ll often get up to “get something”. If my oldest could survive without ever eating anything, he probably wouldn’t put any food in his mouth, except to enjoy the taste of it. Although he’s an adventurous eater and likes good food, he’s rarely inspired enough to sit down for more than a few minutes. Unless I remind him he’s supposed to eat, he’ll go through the whole meal without putting a forkful in his mouth.

I’ve tried it all, the easy way, the hard way. I’ve put the food away when they weren’t interested, ending up with hungry, cranky, whiney kids an hour later. I’ve allowed toys and books at the table if it will help them stay in their seats. Unfortunately they always want something else to play with, something else to read… I can read books to them during the meal, but it means I don’t get to eat. And clearly my conversation topics are not interesting enough to keep them at the table long enough.

So I turn to you, parents of younger and older children. Have you experienced the “ants-in-the-pants” behavior at the dining table? How have you dealt with it? What has worked for you? Thank you so much for sharing your successful parenting tips.

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www Wednesdays – July 20, 2011

WWW Wednesdays

Alright, I think I’ve got everything ready for my son’s birthday family celebration tonight. The Spider-Man cake turned out OK, and you’ll get to see a photo soon. Today is WWW Wednesdays so I wanted to give an update on what my kids and I have been reading.

The talented Mr Ripley by Patricia HighsmithMy bookshelf

– What I’m currently reading
I’m about halfway through The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Wow, what an interesting novel about a sociopath character. Even though Highsmith chose the third-person narrative, she really makes the reader realize what’s going on in Ripley’s mind. Fascinating, and very scary.

– What I recently finished reading
I finally finished The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. This novel offers such an interesting, different twist on the common love story. I kept reading wondering where this was going, and now that I’m done, I’m sad to say goodbye to the characters. Impressive feat for a first-time author. The only thing I didn’t like about the book is its length. I felt some parts didn’t add much to the story and could have been edited out to make for a shorter, more powerful book. Overall I recommend this novel to anyone looking to read a great story.

– What I think I’ll read next
Oh my gosh, I just got Tina Fey’s BOSSYPANTS from the library!!! I’ve heard from several people how hilarious (i.e. laugh out loud) this book is, so I can’t wait to dig into it!

My kids’ bookshelf

Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann– What they’re currently reading
I told you last week we had started reading some Lisa Wheeler books. I think my favorite so far are:
Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum
Ugly Pie (which is actually delicious pie)
Old Cricket (because you don’t become an old cricket by being a dumb bug…)
Dino basketball (the woman can write in rhymes using words like stegosaurus and triceratops, she’s quite talented)

– What they recently finished reading
Actually my kids are still asking to read these books but I sooooooo want to take them back to the library because I can’t stand them. The “least” worst of the series is Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann, but the sequels Goldilicious and Purplicious are simply ATROCIOUS. The computer-generated illustrations are not that good, the text is average and could use a lot of editing. Apart from an interesting premise for Pinkalicious, the stories in the other books are booooooring. But my kids really like the books, so I’m trying to be nice by reading them a few more times.

– What I think they’ll read next
I requested several books by John Ligthgow (yes, the actor). He’s been writing children’s books for the past ten years or so and I’d like to see if they’re any good.

What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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How a boy celebrates turning five

Turning five - birthday cakeToday my eldest is turning five. This little man graduated preschool a few weeks ago and will be entering kindergarten in the fall. Don’t ask me what happened during the past five years, I’m not sure I remember it all. Overall I find motherhood a very humble job. After you’ve been peed on, pooped on and barfed on so many times, somehow you can still look at your child and think he’s the most precious gift in the world. I guess it’s why they call it unconditional love.

At the age of five, my son thinks he doesn’t need to go to school anymore because he already “knows it all”. Wow, I thought such cocky statement only came out of a teenager’s mouth. A five-year-old proved me wrong. Clearly, I don’t know it all. When he grows up, he wants to be a police officer. He’d also like to be an astronaut, a diver and a painter. And a writer too. At least he won’t have time to get bored. And I tell him he can be anything he wants to be. Because he can.

We were going to throw the usual birthday party with the required set of playmates, their parents, the expected entertainment and party favors for them all. Then I thought, what will my son remember from this two-hour-long birthday party several years from now? Probably not much. So I suggested something different. Something more “adventurous” we could do as a family. Something that will create lifelong memories.

So we’re scratching the idea of a typical birthday party and instead are taking a train ride on Amtrack from San Diego to Anaheim, two hours each way, to Downtown Disney. We’re not going to Disneyland (too crowded and too expensive in the summer) but instead will enjoy the shops and the entertainment of the Disney village for a few hours. The kids will even have the opportunity to pick a few goodies at the gift shops. I hope we’ll have lunch in the jungle of the Rainforest Cafe, so the kids can witness a thunderstorm every 10 minutes. Hey, we live in San Diego, we don’t get thunderstorms so this is sure to have a novelty effect. The kids can’t wait to first ride the train, then take a taxi from the station to Disneyland. Kids this age are so easy to entertain, I wish they didn’t turn into blasé teenagers later on.

Of course, no birthday would be complete without a birthday cake. As part of my 101 in 1001 challenge, I’m making my son’s birthday cake from scratch. He asked for a Spider-Man cake and the decoration is all I have left to do. Gosh, I hope a five-year old can be forgiving… You’ll get to see embarassing pictures when I post an update about my 101 in 1001 in early August. In the meantime, my son is taking chocolate madeleines to school today to share with his classmates. These are so good, I wish they stayed home for us to eat.

Can’t have madeleines? Let us eat cake!

Chocolate madeleines

Chocolate madeleines

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