Saturday, December 24, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 12!!

The Final Day!
And what else could it be?!?! However this is a special one!

The Night Before Christmas - by Clement C. Moore

Of course this is my final entry in this series! It's a classic. You know this story. You love it. You've probably seen it illustrated 100 different ways, and they're never bad. I've seen a million versions and love them all!

This one is special though - as our version of this book is the one you see pictured - and is read by Grandma Susie :) This was a gift last year - and D will sit and "read" it over and over. It's perfect. I love it - and I know he'll love it for years and years to come.

And to all a good night.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 11

To be honest - this is one I don't remember very well...

Noel - by Romeo Muller

This book seems to have printed in 1993. I have vague recollections of it from my babysitting days. I remember I bought a coloring book of this story for my babysitting bag and it was my favorite to bust out for the kids.

This is the story of a loving Christmas ornament that comes to life. I know that Noel is filled with the spirit of the season and loves Christmas, even though some of his other ornament friends do not.

Noel has a special power of happiness to bring it to the families he's with, to which he graces their tree. I know that Noel befriends many families in this story and somehow ends up broken. MAN I need to locate this one again.

I love this book and added it because it brought back a memory for me. I hadn't even thought of this book and found it in a random search. I also LOVE the concept and the illustrations of the beloved little ornament with the power of Christmas. The illustrations are amazing, and the story must have been at least somewhat intriguing to the masses because it was made into an animated movie - with a voiceover by Charleton Heston!!

So I'm wanting to remember this - if nothing else. This is my selfish post - as a reminder to find this book and read it to my little bookworm. And it's a reminder to keep the spirit of Christmas in your heart even amongst others who may not be as cheerful as they should be. That's an excellent message for 2 days away from Christmas if nothing else.

Ahhh - I love nostalgia.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 10

Whew - made it to day 10!

Day 10 I'm going with a D favorite - reminiscent of the day of the Bear books that we know and love...D loves another "little critter" just as much...

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad - by Mercer Mayer

We've come to embrace Little Critter in our house. I remembered those books from when I was little, and introduced a few to D who immediately took to the little guy. Since then it's become a tradition - we get a different (or repeat) Little Critter book at the library every week.

This week we OF COURSE hit the holiday section and hit the jackpot with the a Little Critter book. I didn't remember this one - but Dain thought that he had this book as a kid - which is great!

Mercer Mayer is a great author. The little critter books are always endearing, and the focus is the little guy who is always trying to do the right thing and explaining away the things he can't do correctly. This book is no exception to the cuteness of the other stories. Little Critter wants to help mom and dad by baking cookies (but tasting too many), trying to go to sleep right away Christmas Eve (he was too excited - - D thinks he's scared!), and trying not to wake his parents up too early Christmas morning (he brought his new toys up to their room at 6 am).

This story is a heartwarming way of showing that kids aren't always trying to be difficult - they have the best intentions at heart. Little Critter loves his parents and wanted to have a Merry Christmas. That's always a great message!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 9

Here's day 9. Maybe it's because I've been dreaming of vacation lately...

Mrs. Claus Takes a Vacation - by Linas Alsenas

This cute book grabbed my attention at the library the way most do...the cover. Shame on me for judging books by their covers, eh? But that's how I've found so many good ones out there!!

Anyway - Mrs. Claus Takes a Vacation is a cute story from beginning to end - and the illustrations that make the cover so eye-catching are even more appealing on the pages inside.

This book starts at the North Pole - with Mrs. Claus expressing frustration that Santa gets to see the world every year and she has never really been out and about. So she kisses her husband goodbye and hitches up a reindeer and hits the road to see the world.

She travels around the world - sitting on beaches, eating sushi in Japan, dancing with locals somewhere in England, visiting beautiful temples somewhere in India. Santa sits home convinced she's not going to last in the sun at the beach (she's fine there), that she's not making any friends (she does), and that she's missing the food/cookies at their North Pole home (which she sorta does in a cute/funny sushi picture).
Mrs. Claus seems to be having a fabulous time - but starts to wish she was sharing the experiences with her husband - so she heads home - of course in time for Christmas Eve.
SPOILER ALERT! Santa hitches up the sleigh to make the rounds for Christmas - and asks her to go with him. He says he'd like to take her on one more trip around the world and couldn't imagine wanting to share it with anyone else.

This book is great. It is not too short/not too long - and the pictures keep it interesting the whole way through. Who doesn't want to see Santa in his loungewear at home waiting for his wife on his off days? :) The images of Mrs. Santa on her trip are well done and make you want to be in all those scenarios.

As I mentioned - perhaps I just need a vacation and that's why I pulled this off the shelf. However D likes this book too. He likes to see Mrs. Claus. To be honest it's nice to see her as the focus of a story! And it's got a great moral...that you can go anywhere and do anything - but it's the company you keep that makes wherever you go the most special.

Monday, December 19, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 8

Ick. This day had to come.
Yep - the 8th book of Christmas is not one that's a favorite of mine. Definitely not a favorite of Dain's. But D loves it so here we go...

What Dogs Want for Christmas - by Kandy Radzinski

OKAY it's a cute idea. And OKAY the dogs are illustrated beautifully. So maybe it's a good one :)

This book was a gift - I believe from Grandma Denise again. And D loves it. He loved it last year too. I know he loves dogs - and there's a cute rhyming pattern to what the dogs are asking Santa for. There's a Golden Retriever who wants cookies, a Bassett that wants a hat to hold his ears up, a Chihuahua who wants a sweater to stay warm, etc.
D mostly loves the dogs' names. Baxter, Goldie (the Golden Retriever cleverly enough), Rufus, Daisy, Miss Maddie, etc. They are as I had said, beautifully drawn and come off as cute and cuddly and warm. They are no doubt irresistible to a 2 or 3 or 4 year old kid. It's a cute, quick, feel-good holiday story that makes you see that everyone has a heart's desire or perfect gift that would make their holiday perfect for them.
The last dog just wants a warm home, lap to lay on, and family to call their own. It's that what we all want after all?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 7

Same day as 6...but you get the idea.

No list would be complete without THE GRINCH!!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas - by Dr. Seuss

To be completely honest - I haven't read this one since my youth and I'm SICK over it. However - I watch the movie every year and listen to the music every year as well. It's amazing and a classic that can't be avoided on this list.

While I may not have the book - which is a TRAVESTY on the part of my child-rearing - I love the story and the message.

If you've lived under a rock and don't know the premise - it's about the Who's - a group of citizens in the town of Whoville. They are the cute-illustrated people created by Dr. Seuss.
The grinch lives in a mountain outside of Whoville and is ANTI-Christmas. He trys to STEAL Christmas and all the festiveness from Whoville - especially a little girl named Cindy-Lou Who - the main character besides the Grinch.
What we learn in this moral - is that the citizens of Whoville don't need gifts or decorations or even food/parties - they just need love in their hearts for their friends/family to make their Christmas special. And the Grinch's heart grew that day. And forever more.

I love that this book reinforces the spirit of Christmas.
"Maybe Christmas.. he thought...doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

12 Books of Christmas - day 6

Ick I missed a day so I'll be doing 2 today it seems!

Day 6 is another book from Grandma Denise, she gave to D a couple years ago and it's adorable - he loves it and I've noticed it growing in popularity:

Snowmen at Christmas - by Caralyn Buehner

This book is a classic in the works - it's destined to be one that's discussed for generations. I didn't know it - but there are 2 or 3 other "snowmen" books by this author. Guess what we'll be looking for at the library? :)

Snowmen at Christmas tells the story of what the snowmen do on Christmas Eve once everyone is asleep. They sneak off the lawns where they reside and all head to the center of town. They enjoy the lights, and the spirit of the holidays. They see their friends, have treats, dance, and decorate a giant tree with snow. Even snowman St Nick arrives! Then as dawn approaches - they all head home to be back on your lawn by Christmas morning.

I love that this book inspires this kind of creative thinking. That it allows kids to think that their snowmen gets to spend the holiday with their friends and can magically come alive. That's the kind of thinking I had as a kid and I miss in adulthood.

The illustrations in this book really make the story. Illustrated by Mark Buehner (who I THINK is the author's husband) the pictures are the perfect compliment. He somehow accomplished evening drawings with the perfect amount of "light" coming from the snow, and city lights. These pictures are appreciated by adults and children in my mind.

This book is a no-brainer for your library list, or your holiday lists. It's an adorable story - with creative thinking inspired...which made it (in my opinion) a GREAT book.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 5

I've painted myself in a corner and now HAVE to knock one of these out every day!

But, never fear...I'm ready!

Tonight's day 5 book is by one of my FAVORITE children's books authors:

If You Take A Mouse To The Movies - by Laura Numeroff

Laura Numeroff has written some of my favorite children's books - including "Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers", but we are BIG fans of the "If you..." series that she's created.

This story is the Christmas version - and definitely keeps with the cute style of the string-of-events storytelling that these books are famous for. If you aren't familiar with the other books in this series GET FAMILIAR, they are adorable. (My personal fav is "If You Give a Cat a Cupcake").

The book follows a little boy and a mouse - and "if you take a mouse to the movies, he's going to want some popcorn". The popcorn leads him to stringing it up, then wanting to get a Christmas tree, then wanting to make ornaments, etc etc etc. The journey goes from the movies, to the woods, to the backyard, to the house, and then winds up back at where you started. He wants to go back to the movies.

Laura Numeroff's stories in this series always follow a chain of events that lead the character and the animal back to where they started. But there's no shortage of cuteness and laughter along the way.

The book is illustrated by Felicia Bond, who illustrates all the books in this series. Her drawings are so cute and perfect for the story. There's a simplicity to them, but a reality that makes the sparkles, popcorn, lights, snow all come alive on the page. I've always loved how "friendly" the artistry is in these books.

This story is a cute way to stay in the Christmas spirit. It doesn't have a moral, but it's holiday fun at it's finest. Check it out of the library at the least. And while you're in the N section - get some of the others!

OOH - I heard that the latest in this series is "If You Give a Dog a Donut" and I'm just waiting for our turn with that one from the library!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 4

On the 4th book of Christmas...we bring in Santa!!

Santa Claus the World's Number One Toy Expert - by Marla Frazee

This book is perfect for day 4, and for all those kids who are figuring out their wish lists for Santa...or more likely for those who aren't quite sure.

We got this book from the library last year and it quickly made it onto our Amazon wish list. Marla Frazee wrote this adorable story for kids of any age, and adults who still want to believe in the magic.

The illustrations on the cover are what initially drew me to this book. Adorable drawings of Santa and toys - with a vintage feel that seems to be a hallmark of children's books that I love. The pictures of Santa are so warm and friendly, and sometimes funny. I love how this book is drawn!

The story is about Santa, obviously, and how he's the "number one toy expert". He spends his time picking out the perfect gift to match with each child's likes and talents. It shows Santa doing research - and testing all the toys to make sure they are fun to play with. The story shows Santa trying out the fun of all the toys (mostly timeless classics like hula hoops and dolls, etc). He makes sure that each gift matches each child so that Christmas morning is successful and happy for each one.
This gives the idea that Santa is busy all year round with his studies. I love that. And it says that "gives the exact right toy to the exact right kid, 99.9% of the time . . . no one is perfect. Not even Santa Claus" which I think is good - because there's bound to be those few kids out there who aren't thrilled with what they've gotten, but even the kid pictured in the story (from my recollection) realizes that the toy he got is amazing. (This is only one small page in this adorable book).

I like that the other side of this story is that Santa is a number one KID expert too - referencing that he talks to LOTS of kids all year - brave and shy. This is especially poignant to me this year as D is scared of Santa in the flesh. But that's good...because he's been changing his mind on toys. However maybe I should get this book - so he realizes that Santa is working on getting him the perfect toy...because Santa knows every kid, and what toy will be best for them. I think D will be happy with what Santa brings him this year - because he's been watching and listening very closely and boy oh boy does Santa love to do his research. ;)

Monday, December 12, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 3

Look at me! I'm staying on top of it!

So here's the book for #3 - a bear that has worked his way into our hearts...

Bear Stays Up for Christmas - by Karma Wilson & illustrations by Jane Chapman

This super-cute rhyming book is just one of the MANY "Bear..." books that D has grown to love. Karma Wilson has written an entire series, including Bears Wants More, Bear's New Friend, Bear Feels Scared and our VERY favorite Bear Snores On. In fact, Bear Snores On I have memorized, and it's the story I whisper-tell to D on nights that he's having trouble going to sleep and still wants to rock.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas is another success for Karma Wilson in my "book". It's written (and illustrated by Jane Chapman) in the same rhyming style - with the same adorable characters that are in each of her other stories.
In this story - the bear's friends interrupt his hibernation so he doesn't sleep through Christmas - and miss all the fun. They keep him busy getting a tree and decorating it, singing carols, etc. Eventually just the bear is awake all night baking and wrapping for his friends - and when the rest wake up they exchange gifts and see that Santa has come. His friends let him go back to sleep, and they all sneak off out of the cave after a wonderful holiday.

The illustrations in these books are perfect as usual. The bear is so warm and cozy, and the rest of his crew just completes it. Throughout the series you see that they are true friends and eachother's family. It's such a wonderful thing to see them together celebrating the holiday, and with such an adorable story. They want to spend their time together - which is a great message.

The story is the perfect length for bedtime - or anytime in D's case. It's familiar and warm and a favorite that we will read for years...or until D no longer will let me cram him on my lap.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 2

So I'm following up! Here's book #2 - and it's probably good that I gave myself more than 12 days to do this so I can actually accomplish all 12...

Baby's Christmas - written and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin

This is a Little Golden Book from 1959. For some reason we had it when I was a little girl and I always remember it as one of my favorite books of all time, not just of the season. In fact, this was one of those books that I sought out on eBay while I was pregnant because I knew I wanted my baby to have this book in their library.

This book is very simply written, and illustrated. But like others by Eloise Wilkin (there were many), the illustrations are beautifully done, detailed and lifelike, while retaining the image of the era.

The book is about a baby coming down for Christmas to see what Santa left. It's very gender neutral - to this day I'm not sure if the baby is a boy or girl, however there's a stocking on the mantle in one image that says "John" so maybe it's a boy. Growing up I just assumed it was a girl because I lived in a house full of girls, and the baby gets a few pink toys. Ha.

I typically skip pages 2-3 because it doesn't "fit" the rest of the story in it's writing style. But the rest is written so the sentences flow very well.
The baby gets a little ball, a rocking horse, a music box, a train, and many MANY more toys. (Written like "Santa left a music box that plays a little tune. He left a string of wooden beads, pink and white and blue."). The one problem I have as an adult is that this baby gets a TON from Santa...which maybe doesn't teach the best expectations - but you immediately overlook that once you get in to the story.
The pages typically have one toy per page - some with the baby using them, some just on their own. The toys are all reminiscent of the era - simple, wooden, colorful. The kind of toys I preferred best for D at that age. I was always obsessed with the milk truck that the baby gets. I wished I had that toy through my entire youth. I still wish D could have had one.
At the end - baby gets a toy box as well - to put all the toys away in.

This book is better than I remembered it. It's adorable - and simple. D loved it as an infant...and still loves it as a very active toddler. I still love it as a 31 year old adult. It will always be one of my favorites. I leave it in our rotation year round - it does not get put away with the other Christmas books, needless to say ;)

Friday, December 9, 2011

12 Books of Christmas - day 1

I've decided maybe I'll do the 12 Books of Christmas...of course with children's books. We'll see if I bite off more than I can chew, because I've not been the best at keeping up with posts!

However - here we go with Day 1:

The Longest Christmas List Ever - by Gregg Spiradellis and Evan Spiradellis

This book is new to us this year - a gift from Grandma Denise. Regardless of this - it has quickly made it in to the VERY regular rotation.
This book is about a little boy named Trevor, who wakes up Christmas morning to a plethora of toys that he loves but keeps tossing aside for the next and the next. In the midst he realizes he forgot to ask Santa for a puppy - so he starts the next year's list right there and then so he's sure not to forget a single item that his heart desires.
He writes day and night for close to a year - filling boxes of lists that stretch through his town. When he goes to mail the list it's too pricey - so he has to try to narrow it to one page and misses the post office cut-off for Santa. So he's terrified of missing presents.
SPOILER ALERT - he wakes up to the perfect present...and realizes that mom and dad must have written Santa and that Christmas is about love and not presents. I won't tell you what that gift is though. HA!

This book is adorably written. It's not too short, not too long - and rhymes in the clever and mild fashion that makes a book fun to travel through.
The illustrations are perfect. The little boy is drawn well, just enough exaggeration with his features to make him an adorable main character with perfect expressions.

I also love the message of this book. It's almost like a fable, with a moral at the end. Trevor learns that love can make a holiday special. He learns that the one perfect gift and the love of your family can override boxes full of material things that won't fill your heart.

In short, it's a keeper.

Stay tuned for - hopefully - 11 more books of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fell in a Hole

Did I fall in hole? No.
But that would be the best excuse as to why I haven't been posting on the blog. I haven't even uploaded a picture to my computer since Halloween. I have been out of it. Just busy with holidays/work/etc that take up everyone's time. But I've had so many posts I've thought about in my head but just haven't put on the web. I've even saved multiple books from the library because I've been obsessed and not wanting to forget them for a future post.

I'll get back at it soon. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 21, 2011

FLASH back

I'm "flash"ing back to Halloween because I'm so behind the times on my blogging.

D had a great time turning three - but I think he loved being The Flash for Halloween even more. And he's been obsessed with all things Halloween ever since.

Here's some photos of the little superhero. We oddly had a large resistance from him to get the costume on - but once he got started Trick or Treating - he was a machine!

Here he is with cousin Haven, hitting the streets with Dad, checking out decorations with his great-grandpa, and just looking cool. Hope everyone's Halloween was as happy as D's was!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Something great.

Another book - another blog. This one is hilarious and adorable, as are most that make it on the blog.

Sally And The Something by George O'Connor.

This book appealed to me from the library racks because of the cute illustration on the front cover that implied a monster. It was close to Halloween when we checked it out, and D has been into monsters because of his new-found love of the movie Monsters, Inc. The graphics looked vintage - which always draw me in.

Sally is a little girl that is bored and so she goes to the pond to go fishing. After waiting a creepy green monster slithers its way on the dock and the little girl, instead of running away screaming, says "COOL!" and is excited the "something" is not boring.
They try to play Sally's favorite games like tea party and the something's favorite games like snail races...but neither are interested in the other's pastimes. So they compromise and do some things they both might enjoy - like a burping contest and leapfrog.
When Sally realizes he's tired she takes him home to his dad - and she returns home to rave about her new friend, who's "really something".

It's just a cute read from the get-go. Yes it's written about a little girl, but it's a perfect book for little boys. It teaches, in my opinion, the idea of not being afraid or judging something on appearance. This 'something' is Sally's new favorite friend - and it shows that so many people could be dear friends if they looked past the surface and tried to compromise. Plus a weird monster always makes for a funny literary journey.

Loved it. D loved it. It went on our wishlist too.
Man - how many books can Santa buy without it being weird? I have no clue when we'll get around to purchasing all these books.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

D's Happy Day

Well, we're 3 now. Can't believe that happened.
D had a great birthday week - upset only by a cold that caused mass-hysteria one night with a restricted breathing episode that caused him to have to go to the doctor and get a breathing treatment. But we're good now.

On his actual day, Grandma Susie came up and we had a good day. We took him to the petstore to look at the fish (stay tuned) and then to get a happy meal, since that's a huge treat for him. After a refusal to nap, we hit up Sonny Acres. And for the second time this season he loved it. He was happy to stand by the "how tall this fall" sign again, rode a pony, sat on a tractor, repeatedly went down a slide, and went down the big slide with grandma. (You can click the pictures to make them bigger).

After that we came home and had some dinner with daddy and a cake. (Which Dain would want me to point out that I did NOT make - I bought at Target because it was cute and decorated like a monster).

We presented D with his gifts. A Batman & Robin from A-Z book from the 1960s - which is amazing. And a FISHTANK! with Batman (the black fish), Robin (the yellow fish) and Alfred (the gray snail). *Note since the b-day we've gotten a different tank, and Robin is no longer with us...but we're coping.

I think he had a good day. At the time I was stressed with work and felt bad about it, but I think his superhero party on Sunday more than made up for it.
I'm too lazy to blog that now. So stay tuned.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hi, my name is Marie...

...and I'm a superhero enabler.

Yes. I have no one to blame but myself.

Allow me to back up. D has been in full time pull-ups since he started potty training. A few weeks in we discovered that the Meijer brand pull-ups had the DC Superfriends on them! (For those of you non-nerdy superhero followers - that's the Batman/Robin/Flash/Green Lantern group of friends).

Needless to say D has been requesting them ever since. He does not like others. (Which was pseudo-upsetting to me for a brief moment since this is not the eco-brand I normally would choose). But I roll with it. It's actually pretty stinking cute when I go to get a new one for him - and D is SUPER excited to see "who's on there" (as they vary).

A few days ago D and I made a trek to our area Meijer for pull-ups. A NATIONAL TRAGEDY was underway. We discovered that Meijer has discontinued the Superfriends design in favor of trucks for boys and something girly for girls. WHAT?!?!? So we found some on clearance on the end rack and scooped them up. One lousy pack.

I was looking at our reserves tonight and decided to go online to see if MAYBE Meijer had their brand on-line for sale.
Yes. They. Do.
AND on clearance - SUPER cheap. So I immediately ordered 6 large packs and am having them shipped to the house.

Is this an enabler move? Maybe. But I could've ordered 20 packs - or whatever - but I didn't. I'm simply making a money-saving decision that just so happens to make my cutie pie nearly-3-year-old giddy with delight.

So, enable I will.

(Yeah it's a sickness, my next post just proves that I may need a group session). :)

A Very Flash Halloween

The Flash has taken over Halloween. I think D honestly thinks that by deciding that he's going to dress up as The Flash for Halloween, he has to make Halloween all about The Flash.

Any time we mention Halloween it comes up...and a few nights ago we carved The Flash into our pumpkin (though it was my fault as I suggested it - but once I did - there was no going back). It's a Flash-O-Lantern!
(this crappy photo is soon to be replaced with the good one from my camera).

Happy Flashoween to All!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sonny Acres - take 3!

It's become an annual tradition...a trip to Sonny Acres Farm in West Chicago with Evan and Marcy. And, we LOVE it.

This year was a bit more exciting - since D is older and more IN to the whole idea of rides and attractions and Halloween in general. He was excited to look at/ride on/touch & feel EVERYTHING.

We started with some of the farm animals - feeding them from the $0.25 corn vending machine. D loved this - he loves animals and gets such a charge out of letting them eat from his hand. Here's a super short video clip of the laughter that ensued every time his new-best-friend the goat came near him.

After that it was off to the rides. It did cost a lot more this year since D had strong opinions about riding the rides - but it was a one-time excursion so we played along.
He rode a motorcycle in circles

The BIG slide with Aunt Marcy (2 years running)

A flying dragon, a train, and a dragon rollercoaster with me - which was SUPER unsteady and felt like we were going to fall out every time. Ten minutes after we got off - the ride was shut down. Uh...okay? But D loved it of course.

He and Uncle Evan then made their way to the petting zoo. Feeding more animals, making friends with goats, llamas, a pot-bellied pig, a calf, and some chickens. He pet a baby lamb, bunnies and a sheep as well. I don't know who liked this part of the trip more, D or Uncle Evan.

We made the mistake of telling D he could get a little pumpkin - then taking him to the painted pumpkins. When we found the BATMAN painted pumpkin all bets were off. $10.00! But it looks super cute in D's room.
And - we visited Spiderman.

All that and a trip to the sign "How Tall This Fall" - which has become an annual tradition. And in the spirit of tradition - I will post all three years of pics from this sign. I think the sign was not all the way in the ground this year - as D is MUCH taller than last year - but appears to be hitting the same point on the chart. Oh well.

Another year of memories. LOVE.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Best Book Recently

The Best Pet of All is one of the best children's books we've had in a LONG time from the library. Yes, I say this a lot though...

David LaRochelle wrote the cutest book. And the illustrations by Hanako Wakiyama are perfect. They make the story to me. This author/illustrator combo seems to be a match made in heaven.

Let me start off by saying this book caught my attention because the cover art looks like a book from the 1950s/1960s - which I typically love. Some of my favorites, which we own are the Little Golden Books from that era, The Daddy Book, the Dorrie books, etc - where the illustrations are clean, innocent and reflect the period in the environments of the book (toys, hairdos, clothing, buildings, etc). You can imagine my surprise seeing it was penned in 2009. I love that the little boy in the book has very vintage looking toys, the mom is wearing 60s style clothes, and the house they live in is decorated like something I might love to live in. I believe it's got to be set in that era.

The story however, is the best part. A little boy asks his mother over multiple days if he can have a dog, which she refuses - so he asks for a dragon. She says if he can find one, he can keep it. And of course he does - at a drugstore. Who he gets to come home because "dragons love toys".
The dragon is a terrible houseguest and pet. He doesn't pick up, dances all night (to records no less), eats in the tub, etc.

The little boy tells his mother it's too bad they don't have a dog because dragons are scared of the mother caves. They put a sign in there window for a dog wanted. My favorite two pages state "A few minutes later there was a knock at the door" and then "It was a dog". The sentences and illustrations in these few pages are adorable and hilarious, so simple and perfect in the story. The dragon leaves and the mother is happy. The boy is happy because "a dog is the best pet of all". And you see the boy and the dragon giving each other a sly thumbs-up when the mother is warming up to the dog on one of the last pages.

This book is perfect. It's well-written. It's got short, simple sentence pages making it ideal for my little boy to sit and listen to. And it's a feel-good book for all.

As much as I get flustered with my boy and his dog...I realize that there's a bond there. They have a love for each other that I'm not sure any dragon would ever replace. And this book WILL join our library at home.

Mostly because it's that darn cute.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Sing-Off - take 2

I posted a clip of a group on NBC's "The Sing Off" last season - because I loved it so much - and I feel just as strongly about this performance from last night. This group called Vocal Point (another all-male group that I love, shocking I know) did what appeared to be an effortlessly smooth/cool/amazing performance of The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra - for 60's night. (Helps that I love everything Frank Sinatra, AND 60's).

This show is everything I love about music - and amazing and inspirational. Makes me wish I was a good singer. Makes me want to get back on stage...ASAP. :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Moving Forward...

I guess part of me hasn't wanted to blog since my last post. I didn't want to move the post about my grandma any further down the run. Like if I do - it's a metaphor for me having to accept it and move on. And...I am not ready for that reality.

I find myself just checking the "My Chummie" post or looking at the beautiful cards and two roses on my windowsill to remember that it's even a reality that my grandma has even passed.

Like it or not though, life is moving on. No one reminds me of that more everyday than D. He doesn't stop moving for anyone or anything. And he's always kept me on point that way. My natural tendencies to wallow or get depressed are squashed with the little light that I have by my side.

This post doesn't really have a point. I think it's just ripping off the band-aid. Moving me forward. And there's so much I have coming up that I love:

D's THIRD birthday (I refuse to accept this reality as well) is coming up. We're starting party plans and birthday present purchases.
Halloween is immediately after that, and my FAVORITE holiday. And D's costume - SPOILER ALERT - The Flash, is on the way.
After that - my anniversary, Thanksgiving and the holiday season will be around the corner. Shopping for my family/friends presents is one of my favorite yearly activities.

So I'm bravely clicking the "Publish Post" button, and putting this post into cyberspace. Moving forward - but never forgetting.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Chummie

My grandma, Genevieve "Chum" Vivian Boian, passed away last week at the age of 93. I still don't believe it.

My grandma was like a 2nd mom to me growing up. She and my grandpa lived in the house across the street from mine - so you can imagine the amount of time we spent together. The fact that she's not going to be around anymore is almost too much to comprehend.

"Chummie", as I called her (her nickname was Chum), was maybe the best woman in the world. Together with my grandpa they were like the dynamic duo of amazing. I wrote a previous post about my grandpa Bill when my nephew Will was born (though not a full tribute, as he's been gone 8.5 years and I didn't have this blog that long ago) - and it only seems appropriate to honor Chummie in the same way.

For her funeral this weekend, my family's priest asked my sisters and I to write a few memories down of Chummie, and the way we'd like to remember her. It was too hard to think of just one - so we all wrote a few. Writing "how we will remember her" was harder, because it will be a compilation of the 31 years of memories that I have.

Chummie was a kind, gentle, beautiful soul. She'd do anything for you, and give you anything you asked for. Everyone loved her, regardless of knowing her 10 minutes or a lifetime. She was a Kindergarten teacher by trade - and implemented teaching structures for the state of Illinois. She taught hundreds and hundreds of students throughout her career and remembered every one. She had a long and amazing life as a farmer's wife, mother and teacher - but to me she must have been born to be a grandmother.

I want to remember so many things about her. I want to remember her bathroom sink and the smells of dusting powder, Eternity perfume and Listerine mixed together. I want to remember her beautiful clothes and even more beautiful jewelry. (One of the things I wrote about for her funeral was going through all her jewelry boxes and getting to hear the stories that went with every piece). I want to remember her noodles that she made in the crock pot, and her tomato soup that looked bizarre but tasted amazing (and no one can recreate). I want to remember their guest room, with the bookshelves, all the Dick & Jane reading books, red table and chairs, and antique sewing machine. I want to remember the built-in giant shelving unit that separated their living room/kitchen and how it was covered in bells (she collected them her whole life) - and the cabinets below that held board games like Hog Tied, Care Bears, Shirt Tails and Sorry that she'd play for hours. I want to remember playing cards with her and my grandpa at their little card table in the kitchen, even though there was only three of us and we could have played anywhere. I want to remember her walk-in closet and the hall cabinets full of purses. I want to remember her canning tomatoes in the kitchen with my mom, and storing everything in their crawl space basement. I want to remember the click-clack of knitting needles whenever she was sitting still for more than a minute. She may have been the fastest knitter on the planet, and had drawers and drawers full of colored yarns. I want to remember their orange chairs, green sofa and stone fireplace that was built by my grandpa. I want to remember her weekly handwritten (on beautiful stationary) letters to me at college. I want to remember her love of flowers, and the pansies that I loved so much. I want to remember her stop-and-start driving style and how she mostly had my grandpa drive - including on rides to see my aunt Patsy at her care center in Streator. I want to remember that their TV and radio/record player were wooden pieces of furniture, and that I got to pick what we watched or listened to, most of the time from the big orange pillow on the floor. I want to remember her ruby ring, and angel pin, and wedding band that was so thin from years of wear. I want to remember her singing next to me in church, her voice on the other end of the phone, or her humming in the kitchen. I want to remember her running across the street in her nightgown the night my dad had to be rushed to the hospital. I want to remember that her favorite treats were guava juice and burnt cookies. I want to remember her teaching me to read, cross-stitch and play card games. I want to remember her love for her family - her husband, her children and her grandchildren. I want to remember EVERYTHING she did and said on every occasion - that made her the best grandmother ever created.

Don't be alarmed if you check back and I've edited this blog. I have a feeling I'll never be done recording the memories. She meant the world to me. I never want to forget a moment.

(Me [pregnant with D at the time!] and Chummie at her 90th birthday party).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Walk for Hope - take 3

On October 1st - Dain, D and I will be participating, for the 3rd year, in the Walk for Hope to benefit Mutual Ground - a shelter that provides free services to victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

Both Dain's family and my family have been affected by domestic abuse. We are walking once again with "Team Andrea" a group formed in memory and honor of Dain's cousin who lost her life as a victim of domestic abuse.

Please see the site below where I'm managing my fundraising efforts (you may have to cut and paste), which also includes further information on Mutual Ground. Any donations are tax deductible and can be made on the website - or I can accept cash/check donations as well.

Please do not feel obligated to donate - I, once again, just wanted to spread the word about this great place that could possibly be a safe haven to someone you may know that may also be affected.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day Out with Thomas

We did the DAY OUT WITH THOMAS at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL this past Saturday. It was mostly to celebrate my nephew Will's 2nd birthday. Will has recently gotten in to Thomas the Train, much like D did around that age. D still has his Thomas trains - but they've made their way to the end of the toy selection process since Batman and the Batcave moved in. Still, I knew D would enjoy himself, and he's never been on a train - so I was excited to take him.

We had a great time. It was hot, yes. And crowded, yes. But the kids had fun. Well, D and Will had fun - but my niece and nephew who are 6 and 8 were a bit bored with the situation. They powered through though, mostly I believe because my mother was in FULL grandma mode buying snow cones and ice creams to keep everyone in sugar.

Here's some pics from our day out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh here they are - costumes!!

I told you! I am giving D the choice this year on his costume...but I'll let you all vote too!
Here are the superhero options out there. Did you know there's a whole website of JUST superhero costumes?? Anywho - here they are, and YES, D knows who each and every one of them is...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Oh it's coming!

Just's coming! I'm posting costume possibilities within the next few days. I'm that obsessed.

While I fear my opinion means ZERO this year to D - I will at least be presenting him his options. I just am so excited. I love Halloween!!!

And in the spirit of full disclosure - just so you know what's coming - they will all be superheroes.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Shop for Babies??

Ha! I've MARCHED for Babies - but now there's an opportunity to SHOP for Babies! Another great way to help out one of my favorite causes, March of Dimes.

That's right! On August 27th - you can shop at Macy's and get 25% off EVERYTHING - including sale items...but only with the March of Dimes pass.

For $5.00 you can purchase a pass at the March of Dimes website (click on those words for a link). The money raised goes to March of Dimes - and you save wayyyy more than that anyway! So why not support March of Dimes? And have an excuse to go shopping?

Unfortunately I'll be out of town most of that day - but I'm hoping some of you can take advantage! And support March of Dimes and premature birth awareness everywhere!

Monday, August 15, 2011

BU Grad Wins!

I love cooking shows - which is odd because I don't really cook at home. I mostly LOVE cooking competition shows. I love Masterchef. I love Top Chef. My favorite is Next Food Network Star.
On Sunday night - a new Food Network Star was crowned. A BU grad!! YES!
The winner, Jeff Mauro (to be known as The Sandwich King on his upcoming show) was at BU apparently when I was...he's 32. I remember watching the first episode this season and thinking he looked vaguely familiar. But probably because I've heard that he was involved in the drama department, and I was a theater minor for a bit.
Either way - you can see his bio/new show info here:

He was the best by far on this season, and before I even knew of the Bradley connection I was rooting for him. So congrats to Jeff - and Go BU!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Potty Update!

So D's doing GREAT on the potty! He's still not quite to telling us when he's ready - but he's been only going through a couple pull-ups a day and has been consistently going on the potty when we stick him on there! He's even pooped on there a few times! (If you're thinking this is too much information for you, get over it!).

We've been trying to come up with ways to entice D to tell us when he has to go. Tonight we started the idea of a "potty chart" - where D gets stickers for each time he successfully uses the potty. We had originally told D he could get a fish when he started using the potty well - but he's changed his mind tonight.
Because tonight was his first real success at a poop on the potty - he got to "Watch Batman on TV!!" (I can't even come close to getting D's enthusiasm across via blog). He watches the old Batman TV show starring Adam West, which we DVR for him. Yes, this is a weird reality. The episode he watched featured The Riddler. And now, D's determined he wants The Riddler. (They make one for his Batcave set). So that's what he's "working" for.

Here's a tastefully modest shot I got of D after his 1st poop on the potty. Yes I'm that proud. Dain wouldn't let me take a toilet shot so don't worry - that's not coming. But since this is the closest thing to a baby book/album for D that we have, I'm including the pic I did get!

Go D, Go! Ha!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gotta Have Heart

Another super-cute library book has crossed our path. This time, not so much for the cute verbiage/storyline, but for the extremely creative artwork on the pages.

"My Heart Is Like a Zoo" by Michael Hall.

Yes, this seems like a WEIRD title. My normal library-scan of the books is just seeing if the pages have enough or too many words and if it looks "cute" right off the bat. I didn't have time to really look too far into it this week - but I lucked out. The image on the front cover caught D's eye and mine and it proved to be a great choice.

The image on the front is a lion pop-art style graphic made up of only heart-shapes (save for the dot eyes). Upon opening the book, I happily discovered that every page was a different animal composed of only geometric hearts. It's amazing!
The book is started with "my heart is like a zoo..." and the following pages are animals with a reason that is a typical description of that animal. "Thoughtful as an owl", "angry as a bear", "eager as a beaver", "steady as a yak", etc, etc. What the author/artist did with the hearts to create the images was amazing!

There's a cute rhyming pattern that flows throughout the book, and the end is ultimately a "zookeeper" that is a little child going to bed with all his heart-shaped stuffed animals around him.

D loves the book. It's so brightly-colored and fun, and the length is perfect. He loves the animals - and I understand how some could praise this book for helping their child understand emotions. I think that's a great thought. I also LOVE the idea of using this book as inspiration for Valentines! (Ha - act surprised next February, family...unless Batman overrides that decision as well!).

It's worth a read. It's definitely going to be D's Valentine's present this February from us. We're always looking for a "love" book - but I think this one is perfect!