Entries from September 2010 ↓

can’t stop thinking about “challenges”

if you’ve known me for awhile, you might remember some of the challenges i’ve made for myself in the past (baking bread once a month to learn how to work with yeast; the aids ride–400 miles on a bike in 5 days; the 365 days of getting rid of stuff (okay, that one petered out about halfway through); eating vegan once a week, etc.) and lately, i’ve been setting all of these ridiculous hypothetical challenges for myself in my head and then feeling guilty that i’m not doing all of them simultaneously.  so i thought i’d list some of them here and have you all vote for which challenge you think would help me to find more of a sense of balance between working/being a mom/being a grad student/being a creative person/and being a healthy person.  they are, in no particular order:

1.  not eating out for a whole month

2.  blogging (on at least one of my blogs) at least once a week through the end of the year

3.  going to bed no later than 11:00 every night

4.  exercising at least 3 times a week  (i have SO fallen off of the exercise wagon and I can really tell a difference)

5.  doing this 30-day yoga challenge

6.  being allowed to only check google reader while riding the stationary bicycle

7.  no more than one sweet treat per day (yes, this would be a challenge.  pitiful, isn’t it?)

8.  absolutely no tv (or google reader) until all of my homework is done for the week

9.  carving out time to craft at least once a week

10.  forbidding myself to take on any challenges that are doomed to cause me huge guilt if i don’t make them work–at least until I’m out of grad school or until Gabriel is sleeping through the night.

please vote for ONE in the comments section below.  thanks!

the other side of the lens

one of my favorite baby gifts was the promise of a mini-session with J’s boss’ wife… who happens to be an excellent photographer.  We had our photo shoot a few weeks ago (what an interesting experience to be on the other side of the lens!  I think the oddest thing about it was having no idea how much of us she was getting in the frame or not getting in the frame.) and she posted a sneak peek on her blog yesterday.  check them out! I especially love the one of baby dude and daddy j.  i can’t wait to see the rest!

book reviews #2

i wrote a few book reviews way back when (wow!   he looks so tiny in those pictures!) and it’s high time I give a shout out to some more favorites that have appeared in our nightly book rotation-so-mama-doesn’t-get-bored stack.

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illus by Marla Frazee (who received a Caldecott Honor Medal for this book)

I LOVE the illustrations in this book.  I love Marla Frazee in general (see Everywhere Babies reviewed in last book review post), but this one reminds me of the best of my favorite childhood illustrator, Hilary Knight (who is a MAN!  Did you know that?).  There’s a subtle running storyline in the pictures and you can search for different people who crop up throughout the book and think about the relationships between those people.  There’s some lovely interracial relationships depicted and the illustrations include a pair of women (at least one of whom is gray-haired) who ride a tandem bicycle through many of the pages, a Hispanic-looking grandfather and his three grandchildren, a farmer’s market, a couple of mamas carrying their babies in slings…. And the words are this beautiful poet with juicy words that end with the couplet:  “Hope and peace and love and trust/ all the world is all of us” and although I don’t think it was written to be a tear-jerker, I had to read the book several times before I could get through the end without getting choked up.

Tumble me Tumbily by Karen Baicker, illus by Sam Williams

I first encountered this book as a series of board books at my mom’s house.  I think I’d seen them before at the library, but they hadn’t caught my eye and they were rhyme-y which I hated before Baby Dude came along (ah.  I get it now.  RHYME-Y is GOOD!  But only if it’s GOOD rhyme-y).  Anyway, this book is actually better as a hardcover than a board book because for some reason the board book editor thought it was necessary to add the phrase “The End” to the end of each of the board books and it always felt very … abrupt.  and awkward.  Once again, I’ll start by saying how much I love the illustrations in this book because there’s such a variety of skin tones!  There’s even one dreamy picture in the first section that looks like it might be a Hispanic kid kissing a Caucasian mama, but some versions of the book are more contrasted than others so I’m not sure.  Maybe that’s the point.  Anyway, I like it.  I especially love the two-page spreads that introduce each of the three sections of the book (“Tumble me tumbily” “Yum Tummy Tickly” and “Snuggle Me Snuggly”)–they are so bright and happy and cheerful, but not in an obnoxious way at all.  The text is pretty good rhyme-y, but there were a few phrases that tripped me up the first few times I read them until I figured out where to put the emPHAsis.  It’s a nice way to move from morning-time awakeness to eating time to sleepy time.

Baby Bear’s Chairs/Books/Big Dreams by Jane Yolen, illus by Melissa Sweet

This is a trio of books (dare I hope that more might someday be in the works?) about a cute little bear and his bear family.  I finally figured out the other day why Melissa Sweet’s illustrations looked so familiar–she’s done lots of design work for the game company, Ee-Boo and I’m always so tempted by their games and products, mostly because of the illustrations by Melissa Sweet.  In these three books, she’s created a world that I’d like to crawl into and live for a little while.  The bears have great decorating taste and fashion sense and baby bear has the cutest favorite stuffie–a honeybee!  And then there’ the text, written by the wonderful Jane Yolen.  Again, these books RHYME, but the rhythm and meter are impeccable and the storylines are super cute too.  Especially in Baby Bear’s Big Dreams–all about what he’s going to do when he’s older “because that’s what big bears always do”–totally reminds me of some of my favorite books as a kid (Hey Mom, remember Molly Moves Out?).  Love these books.

One Naked Baby written and illus by Maggie Smith

SUCH a cute book about a little boy who starts out naked right after a bath, then he visits “two fat cats” who look an awful lot like our two fat cats and then eventually he gets dressed and goes out into the spring day, splashes in some mud puddles and I’ll let you guess where the book ends up.  Once again, great rhyming (I’ve got this one pretty much memorized.  To me, that’s one mark of a well-written rhyme.) and cute little storyline, but it’s the illustrations that make me drool and want to hop inside the book.  Seriously.  I’ve been contemplating sewing myself a skirt just like the one the mama in this book is wearing.  Oh, and maybe also one of the toy penguins lying around on the floor on one of the pages.  I also love that the house in the book makes no attempt to hide the clutter, but instead of tilting stacks of junkmail and wads of dirty tissues like my house has, it’s littered with the cutest toys and inquisitive kitties!

When Baby Dude gets old enough to start having opinions about the books we read, I’ll be sure to include his viewpoint, but for now, I’ll just assume that since he leans back into me and watches the pages go by when we read them before bed, occasionally patting the pages if he really likes the illustration, that he likes these books too.  Of course, he’s a bit at my mercy for the moment.  Lucky me.