Books For Any Day, On A Rainy Day

One of the biggest goals I have as a parent is to show Jack and Carolyn how valuable reading is. It is no secret that I am a bookworm, and this summer I expect to read through a book about every other day. I want Jack and Carolyn to find the same magic in books that I have all my life, and so books are a huge part of our life and daily routine.

We usually read a few books throughout the morning, usually board books or simple picture books. Additionally, Jack has taken to sitting alone in his papasan chair in his room and reading for a period of time in the afternoon. We read a book or a few poems before naptime, and later in the afternoon sometimes Carolyn will want to flip through one while Jack plays cars, so we’ll do that. I keep a running stock of different books for them in the car, for longer trips to Princeton or New York. Finally, at night, we all sit together and read a book and five or six poems before they go to sleep.

Every time I take the kids to the library or story hours at local bookstores, I am astounded by the number of books on the shelves. We have a huge collection, and somehow my Amazon cart always contains at least five new books waiting to be ordered. The library has been a great resource for us, because it allows us to try different books without dropping cash on them right away. That way we can get only the books that we really treasure, and the rest can circle on and off the shelves of area libraries! I thought I’d give you guys an idea of what we’ve been reading lately, and which books we couldn’t go a day without. It seemed fitting, since today is so wet and gross that we’ve spent the morning inside reading a bunch of these:

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Trucks, trains, and boats: this is Jack’s section of the shelf. He’ll read any book about anything with wheels or an engine, so it’s not difficult to pick out books, but these are a few of his favorites. His Chuggington book has flaps that you can lift up, and that’s always fun for him- Maurya and Julius gave it to him, because they’re geniuses. This is a great one for long car rides. The Little Engine is an absolute classic, and the smaller copy is actually my brothers from their childhood! I’m not crazy about him having open access to that copy, since every once in a while he’s been known to rip pages. My friend Brittany got him the larger edition, which has the most beautiful illustrations. I just love it 🙂

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Classics: the books I read as a child, that we return to again and again, that never get old. Eloise is a favorite of Carolyn’s, and I’ve been looking at Madeline books for her as well. Fox in Socks is my favorite to read, but Jack’s favorite is Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear. King and King is a wonderful story about a prince whose mother wants him to marry, but none of the princesses he meets seem to fit- until he meets….another prince! It’s so cute. Fun fact: Are You My Mother was my mother’s book when she was a little girl!

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Aw 🙂

IMG_1997We also have a small stock of board books, mostly for Carolyn now, but Jack will flip through them from time to time. Urban Babies Wear Black and Foodie Babies Wear Bibs are two other favorites, but they’re out in the car. I’m really loving the “Little Miss” books- P & P and Jane Eyre! Too cute!

IMG_1990These are the universal favorites- the ones that, if every other book in the world disappeared, we’d survive on these few. They’re all popular with both of the kids and myself- I love, love, LOVE reading these books! Blowin’ in the Wind is an illustrated version of the Bob Dylan song. John Muth does the most incredible watercolor and ink illustrations, and we are obsessed, as you’ll soon see. A Book of Sleep is just a really solid pre-bed story that I enjoy about a little owl. Zen Ties and Zen Ghosts are both written and illustrated by Muth, and feature the use of Zen Buddhist philosophy, haiku, and a giant zen panda to convey meaningful lessons. One is a book that beautifully addresses bullying (and reverse bullying) through the use of color and numbers. I actually read it at Bucks last year for Reading, Writing Women because I thought it was such a treasure. Tales of Beedle the Bard are children’s stories from the Harry Potter books, and they’re all cute, but we really like the Tale of the Three Brothers. Finally, the two books that we couldn’t live without: Caroline Kennedy’s A Family of Poems and, our most recent addition, Poems to Learn by Heart. These are beautifully illustrated by Muth, and organized by Kennedy into overarching themes preceded by little introductions explaining her connection to the works. Her family had a deep appreciation for poetry, and in these volumes she shares some of her favorite works for children- most of them very famous and classic poems that I know and enjoy myself! It tickles me to know that Jack and Carolyn are growing up reading Frost and Dickinson.

As for me, I’m working my way through a knee-high stack of books that I’ve been meaning to read for some time. First things first, I am re-reading The Great Gatsby, in an effort to undo some of the movie’s garish imagery. After that, it’s on to East of Eden, The Bell Jar, and a collection of Flannery O’Connor short stories. I have also been really into Ben Yagoda and Steven Pinker, and will probably be tackling a few of their books toward the middle of the summer. I’ve been digging in to Nikky Finney’s works lately- she’s so dynamic, I can’t get enough. Elizabeth Raby is another favorite. Finally, I’m hoping to re-read both Moby Dick and Pride and Prejudice sometime in August, because it’s been a while.

I am being treated to a surprise visit by Patty this afternoon- hooray! We’re going to grab smoothies, for sure, and then probably heading up to Doylestown to check out a new Farmers Market, and then maybe some food with Maurya and Julius, or if it’s getting too late, back home for…more food. Right now, it’s nap time, which is Mom-code for a full sixty minutes of having full use of my hands! 😉

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Saturday.

7:45- I can hear Jack’s door creak open downstairs and a little voice calling, “Mama?” Grammy responds, and I can hear Luis moving around, so I roll over and stay under the covers for a minute longer.

7:53- Carolyn is awake and ripping pages out of one of my books, so it’s time to get up. Throw on leggings and a yoga pullover, slip on my TOMS, and go downstairs. Jack and Carolyn get dressed, and we all go to the kitchen to start on breakfast (and the dishes from last night).

8:15- Smoothie time! We seriously have a smoothie almost every morning. It’s just so easy.

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Also, Great Harvest flax bread with sun butter, and mango and banana chunks.

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We haven’t even made a significant dent in the case of champagne mangoes we bought last week! I’ve been storing them in the crisper bin of the fridge and pulling two or three out at a time to let them ripen, but we still have twelve or thirteen in there!

8:55- Leave to drop Luis off at work.

9:05- Home! We clean up a bit (i.e., stack the dishes in the sink), and Jack wanders around the house picking up small pieces of dirt and throwing them away. We show Grammy our order of spring gear. Mommy is way too excited.

9:25- Upstairs to change diapers and put on long-sleeved shirts and long pants, since it’s a little chilly today. The kids go over to my friend’s mother’s house for a few hours every Saturday, and she often takes them to feed ducks by a local pond. They love it.

9:40- Outside to keep Grammy company while she hangs laundry. Jack pulls Carolyn around the yard in their wagon.

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9:50- Mom throws together extra clothes and diapers for the kids while they’re out. We pack a lunch of brown rice and black beans that they are unlikely to eat.

10:10- Drop the kids off with Ally’s mum! They’re excited- she has crackers and hummus, and it’s the best.

10:40- I head over to Starbucks to respond to emails, check Facebook, read a few articles on NPR, start my Modern Art core assessment paper, research our scientist for the Integration of Knowledge project (Ellen Swalow Richards), and try to put together a reading list for Wednesday night.

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I’m feeling totally lost, not sure what to read or how to order them. Everything feels too heavy-handed and awkward. I think I’m going to have a panic attack in the middle of the Yardley Starbucks, so a desperate email goes out to Chris asking for help. My phone dies 😡

1:30- Back to the house to pick up the kids. They are messy and wonderful, and had a great time (as usual)!

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1:45- Home to try to negotiate naps, since they both fell asleep in the car on the way home. This doesn’t usually work out the way I want it to, but I still try every time. We change diapers and shirts (again), and I leave Jack in his room to fall asleep. This is a huge mistake.

2:15- Try to hang laundry one-handed while Carolyn screams in my arms. Every time I put her down, she runs away, throws a basket, or rips down my mother’s laundry. After a few minutes I give up and toss the diapers into the dryer.

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2:22- Try to toss together some kind of lunch for myself. The kids ate at Ally’s Mum’s, but I haven’t had anything but tea since my smoothie this morning. Broccoli and beans go into a pan to sear, arugula into a bowl, and shredded carrot, avocado, and leftover beans and rice on top. Apple cider vinaigrette on top, and a noodle bowl on the side (that Carolyn eventually rips off the counter and spills everywhere).

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3:10- Carolyn is still crying and squirming around. When I put her down, she bolts for the stairs. It’s around this time that I give up hope of getting anything done this afternoon (dishes, folding the dry diapers, keeping my head from exploding…)

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I can hear Jack moving around in his room and decide to go up and check.

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3:11- Jack has gotten into the Baby Bee lotion. He has also emptied a to-go bag and a storage bin full of clothes that don’t fit yet. His diaper is a mess. Carolyn is still crying. I dig deep for patience and some sense of humor.

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3:20- Jack is cleaned up and receives stern orders not to open the storage bin again. The lotion is stashed in the closet. Carolyn and I head downstairs to try to chill her out. I read up on the aurora that might be visible over our area tonight and call to make dinner reservations with Ally.

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3:55- Carolyn finally falls asleep on my shoulder after screaming it out. My arms feel like jell-o. I can still hear Jack moving around.

4:02- Go up to check on Jack and find him…..asleep in his bed.

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Ordinarily I wouldn’t let them fall asleep this late because it would compromise their bedtime later tonight, but….I’m meeting Ally for dinner. Luis is on bedtime duty again, because I blocked out tonight to spend out of the house, and I really need a minute right now to sit with a mug of tea and breathe. So they sleep, and I try to have a minute to myself.

4:27- Carolyn is up. Even though we’re weaning, I try to nurse her back to sleep to edge a little more quiet time out of the afternoon. I have NO CLUE what we’re having for dinner, and am totally wiped out. Veganomicon to the rescue!

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I manage to throw together a quinoa and kidney bean soup, which actually turned out to be super delicious. Also, everything could be done with one hand. Bonus! We set the soup on the stove and head outside to take in my Mum’s laundry. Jack is still asleep.

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5:05- Carolyn decides she wants to visit Jack, so while I’m digging for more dish soap she climbs the stairs. By the time I go after her, she’s already in his room and his eyes are open. He is not happy, but seems better when he’s laying on me, so we do that for a few minutes. Diaper changes and pants, and back downstairs.

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5:20- Soup is done! I somehow manage to get the dishes done in a small window of time while the kids play. Hurray! Dinner is served!

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At this point, I’m pretty tired and looking forward to some relief tonight. The kids start flinging their beans at each other, so dinner is quickly over. Carolyn is not happy.

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5:50- I convince them to play in the sun room long enough for me to fold the diapers. They’re thrilled to help.

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6:30- Grammy’s home! There is a lot of jumping around and yelling.

6:50- My Mum offers to pick up Luis from work. Carolyn and I go upstairs so I can get changed into clothes that don’t have bean smushed into them.

7:10- Luis gets home, and I pass off Carolyn. They’re both way overstimulated and are off the chain. I’m ready for a break.

7:20- I switch bags, get my bike out of the garage, give the kids big hugs and kisses, and text Ally to let her know I’m on my way.

7:35- Arrive at Oishi. Ally and I talk, laugh, drink wine, and eat pad thai and veggie sushi. Yummmm!

10:00- Over to Ally’s house to lay out the pieces I’m thinking of reading on Wednesday. I really needed some insight into what I should read and how to order everything, so this was totally necessary. She rocks my world with fresh bread from their bread machine. Amazing!

12:35- Home! Tomorrow is great because Luis has off from work, so there is an extra set of hands to help out. Also, both of us being home means that we can take the kids out to the playground and for a walk, and I don’t feel panicked, like I’m trapped if they lose their cool.

12:47- Go down to check Jack. He’s ripped his pajama bottoms off, so I replace them and tuck him back in.

1:01- Tuck myself in to bed. Gooooodnight!