Archives for 2013
|Simeon’s favorite book is Dear Zoo.|
“Seven days until Christmas. We’re running out of time…” <— My husband gives me a countdown like this, everyday. Because he really likes Christmas and because he likes to see me stress and because he’s the meanest.
I still have a few last-minute gifts to track down and since I’m figuring that you do too, let me recommend some books for your little ones that will make their hearts soar (and giggle, and think deep thoughts, and howl with laughter). Here are my picks for this year:
|FYI– the links below are not affiliate links, because I don’t know how that works and I’m too lazy to find out.|
The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola- I know this is an older book but I vividly remember the first time I read it as a child. I tried it out on some of my students this year and by the time we reached the final page you could hear a pin drop (no small feat in a room full of 8-year-olds). In case you haven’t read it, it’s an old French legend about a juggler who offers the only gift he has to the Christ Child. It’s like The Little Drummer Boy– but with out all that annoying rat-a-tat-tatting. And it makes me cry.
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin- Didn’t you know that? They LOVE them. If you’re interested in having a party for dragons, you’d best serve tacos — but not salsa. If dragons eat salsa, things get ugly. This book is ridiculous and silly and super fun to read aloud. Love it.
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett – This was a Caldecott Honor book last year and I really felt it should have been number one. The illustrations are simple and so is the story but somehow you keep turning the pages wanting more. My students loved this book about a little girl who finds a box of yarn that never runs out. She knits sweaters for people, she knits sweaters for dogs, she knits sweaters for things that don’t even wear sweaters. A little bit magic and a little bit adventure, this book is seriously fabulous.
I Am Going by Mo Willems – BUY YOUR CHILDREN EVERYTHING THIS MAN HAS EVER WRITTEN. I’m serious. My students BEG for me to read these aloud. They are great for early readers but I am not kidding when I tell you that my 5th AND 6th graders ask me to read these aloud on the regular (not to toot my own horn but I do a pretty convincing elephant voice). Mo Willems is an evil genius.
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen – Yes, I know that this is the same illustrator from Extra Yarn but this book is a real standout. I casually picked it up at the library one day and was cackling my head off a few pages in. It’s about a bear who has lost his hat and travels through the forest politely asking the animals if they have seen it. Klassen’s characters rock a deadpan expression that make the book’s climax that much funnier. My students beg for this story and I almost always give in because I like it so much. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK.
The Mitten by Jim Aylesworth – Most kids have heard Jan Brett’s version of this story, but I think Aylesworth’s is just as charming. Lots of repetition in this one, which is great for reading aloud and reading together. The back cover features a Hot Cocoa recipe that my students get super excited about!
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown – Mr. Tiger is sick of being proper– so he decides to go WILD! Unfortunately, the other animals are not impressed and when Mr. Tiger takes his wildness too far, they are absolutely appalled. I love the illustrations in this book and it always makes the kids chuckle saying, “But tigers ARE wild, Mrs. Smith!!” It’s short and sweet, making it nice for bedtime when parents are exhausted and can’t last much longer.
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel – I might not be Jewish, but I know a good story when I hear one! Do you have any idea hard it is to find a picture but that even my older students enjoy? This is one does the trick. It’s the tale of a town plagued by goblins who will not allow anyone to celebrate Hanukkah. Only Hershel is brave enough to confront the goblins and break their power– but he must use his wit and quick thinking to do so. Great story here.
Press Here by Hervé Tullet – Put down the iPad. Leave your Kindle at the door. Who says books can’t be interactive? Each page of Press Here prompts the reader to do specific actions (press the yellow dot, tilt the book on its side) that take them on an imaginative and quite extraordinary reading experience. It’s reading outside the box with a story that won’t work unless your child gets involved. So different and so creative. Check it out.
Since we’re in the holiday mood– I’m doing a giveaway of the newly released book by Courtney Westlake titled That’s How You Know. Courtney blogs over at Blessed by Brenna and I did a guest post for her here. Courtney’s little family is a lovely example of living a graceful life with special needs. Her book takes you on a joyful walk through all the wonderful ways that God celebrates and loves our children. Enter below to win a copy!
It’s December 17th and I have yet to post a single thing about Christmas. And you’re probably all like, “Jeeeez… is Mary Evelyn even a Christian?”
I am. you guys. But two weeks ago, I was this close to canceling Christmas.
Because I didn’t feel like it. And because I’m a monster. And because I looked at the next few weeks on our calendar and our schedule of appointments and events piling up. I calculated the time it would take me to purchase gifts, bake cookies, and decorate a tree. I assessed the situation and decided that there just wasn’t time for Christmas this year.
So I told Greg it was canceled. And he was like, “You don’t mean that. We’ll get everything done. You’ll find a way.“
And he came this close to getting punched in the nose.
But then a Christmas miracle happened– God gave me a snow day. And while all the teachers and students rejoiced, I decided that maybe Christmas was worth it. Somehow having that little scoop of extra time helped me to relax and to finally get excited.
We bought a real tree (because we’re better than everyone) and our house smells like a forest. We decorated and listened to Christmas music. We ate cookies.
The truth is, I can’t cancel Christmas (and I don’t really want to, anyway). Christ is born regardless of whether or not I feel like singing carols or drinking hot cocoa. But somehow all those little preparations helped me to anticipate, they helped me to look forward, and they gave me peace
Sometimes action comes before feeling. Sometimes the work of Christmas comes before the joy.
So I’m casting off my inner Grinch. I’m pushing aside my Scrooge-like tendencies.
Christmas is totally on.
And to help get you in the spirit–here’s my Don’t Cancel Christmas Playlist. Please note that the The Carpenters are featured TWICE because that album is bomb and was possibly orchestrated by the Lord, Himself to bring good cheer to EVERYONE. If you skip those tracks I WILL find out about it and we WILL be having a conversation about respecting The Carpenters.
I feel very strongly about The Carpenter’s Christmas album…
Also, this playlist does not feature “Baby It’s Cold Outside” because that song is the creepiest (followed closely by “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”) and makes me feel like something sinister is about to happen and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
|If viewing this photo doesn’t make you want a big wet kiss, then please call your doctor and request a phsychological evaluation. I fear there may be something terribly wrong with you…|
We’ve been working on getting this kid into speech therapy for a while and, by gosh by golly, we finally did it!
But last week, on the morning of Simeon’s very first therapy session, I received his speech assessment in the mail. Let’s just say that it wasn’t the most uplifting read. A mother can only see the words “severe delay” so many times before wanting to throw herself dramatically into a sea full of stinging jelly-fish (or a tank of captive Orca whales, which I recently learned can be just as vicious– mainly because they’re sad, which I totally get. <– tangent). I drove to work with that bowling-ball-lodged-right-on-top-of-my-heart feeling and cried between classes in my super-secret cry spot (aka: behind a shelf in my office with a piece of taffy).
I didn’t have high hopes for this first session. I prepared to watch my child stare blankly at his therapist while trying to decipher her incoherent babbles. Or perhaps he would become too frustrated and, upon losing his cool, would resort to whacking himself in the forehead (his new trick for whenever he doesn’t get his way–> which was all fun and games until last week at dinner when we said “no” to his request for a steak knife and he forgot he was holding a fork).
But guess what, you guys? The session was wonderful. He. Did. Great.
He laughed, he caught bubbles, he interacted, and made an effort to communicate. I swear his therapist is a certified genius. She totally gets Simeon and he responded well to every game she played and method that she used with him. She even said that he’s come “leaps and bounds” since she evaluated him a month ago.
So no, he did not come out reciting the Gettysburg Address (we’re working on it) and no, he still does not call me “mama” or call me anything really. But the session gave me hope and I feel at peace knowing we’ve got our best people on it.
Get ready tiny little vocal cords. Your days of relaxation are so over. Boo yah.
A couple of weeks ago, my dear friend Mary Evelyn wrote this beautiful post about her apocalyptically cute son Simeon and her dreams about him. In some of her dreams, Sim, who normally uses a wheelchair, can walk.
When I read her thoughts, I was moved.. . and grateful. Because in all my dreams [that I can remember], my wheelchair never makes an appearance. Never. I have had dreams about jumping for joy, walking around town with friends, and running from the mafia [in which I was rescued by Barack Obama and a team of Secret Service agents, thereby validating my importance to our great nation].
I have never had dreams about “wheeling” or “rolling” anywhere .
[By the way, as long as we’re on the subject: it is perfectly okay with me if you invite me to go for a walk with you. I will not go for a roll or a wheel with you. I refuse on the grounds that it sounds creepy-weird and ridiculous.]
While being able to walk in my dreams is the norm for me, I have always been hesitant to share this with others. I can hear it now: oh, how beautiful/sad/wonderful for you, sweetie. Bless your special little heart. And I want to avoid the Pity Police at all costs, but I also wonder: how does this stack up against all my other rhetoric: if I am so proud of my identity as a person with a disability, if I take such ownership of it as a meaningful part of my experience, then why do I never dream things as they are?
The discussion on dreams gets more interesting when you take into account the dreams of those closest to me. John and I were talking the other day, and he recounted a recent dream. In it, I told off some bratty girls at a party and “strode away from them, swinging [my] hips, in stiletto heels.” Not only is that really great, it’s curious. Other close friends and family, have told me similar things; in their dreams, I walk alongside them, moving freely from place to place.
Does this mean my friends-or my boyfriend-wish they could change things for me? Do I want to change things for myself? It could be that, but maybe it’s something else.
Dreams come from our subconscious, so they give us a glimpse in to our deep-down perceptions of ourselves, our lives, and others. If how I dream is how I see myself, then it makes sense that in my dreams I have a typical body because, in my experience, my body is typical. My wheelchair is not the reason John is with me; those reasons are deeper, more abstract, and more freely expressed in dreams. Dreams may not mirror reality in an exact way, but when we dream of and for the ones we love, there is truth. It makes sense for John to dream of me as a person not defined by my limitations, because that is how he sees me anyway.
And this makes sense for the Sim-Monster, too. He’s an IncrediCute little boy who you just want to snuggle the ever-loving out of. He has a lot of energy and loves to play and laugh and be silly. So it makes sense to me that this is exactly who he is in Mary Evelyn’s dreams, too: her little boy, simple as that.
Since I’m still recovering from our road trip and at this very moment I’m staring daggers at two suitcases that are still waiting to be unpacked– I’ll be brief.
Thanksgiving was delicious and lovely. Sim overcame his recent fear of dogs, Greg was able to watch an ungodly number of football games, I slept in every single day, and we only made one (brief) ER pit stop. So, despite the fact that I neglected to get even one photo of our holiday bird (other than this pic of the killer chocolate one), I promise the day was delightful. Thank you to Aunt Diane for ensuring our food was top-notch and thank you to Sim’s Old Granny for changing all the diapers. Vacation indeed.
PS: Never let me use the word “dump” in a post title again– because apparently I’m a 7th grade boy and it’s got me all-kinds-of grossed out.
|Fear-of-dogs exposure therapy|
|June Dog was very accommodating|
|Football watching (no laughing matter)|
|Divying up Great Grandpa’s unwanted ties. I’m not sure any of the guys can rock a floral tie like Pa but they’re determined to try.|
|Frances– fashionable as always|
|Sim models ties with Old Granny.|
|Borrowing Daddy’s gloves = super creepy baby hands.|
|Uncle Joel: Wrestling Champion|
We’re officially back from Nashville but what I thought would be a week of holiday shopping and getting-stuff-done has been thwarted by some airway issues (did ya notice that Sim isn’t wearing his trach cap in any of the above photos?) so it looks like we’ll be heading to the OR this week to check for a possible granuloma– remember our adventures in granulomas from over the summer?. Hopefully it will be quick and easy so that we can get back to our holly-jollying!
I don’t write book reviews very often (by which, I mean I do it basically never) but earlier this year I felt compelled to share my excitement over James Patterson’s middle grade book, I Funny. As an elementary school librarian, my days are filled with stories– and (since I really dig books for boys) these stories happen to contain a lot of fart jokes. But everyone needs a break from the norm, so I was refreshed to stumble upon a book for the 4th-7th grade crowd that went deeper than the usual booger and gas bit. I Funny is the story of Jamie Grimm, a kid comedian who wants to make it big in the world of stand-up comedy– he also happens to use a wheelchair.
I’m. In. Love. A character who has a sense of humor, strong friendships, a possible love interest, AND a disability? Be still my heart.
So when the folks from Little, Brown Books got in touch about doing a giveaway here on What Do You Do, Dear? for the soon-to-be released sequel, I could hardly contain my excitement. Seriously– I’m pretty sure I could feel my librarian heart fluttering away like the wings of a certain butterfly that was once a very ravenous little caterpillar. So I said absolutely and a copy of the newest Jamie Grimm adventure showed up on my doorstep.
I give you I Even Funnier.
| ((Visit the Official Site and follow author James Patterson on Twitter)) <– Did you know
Mr. Patterson is a Vanderbilt grad, just like me and Greg? Woot!
So now I get to offer it to you. Enter for your chance to win a copy of I Funny AND I Even Funnier. It’s a Thanksgiving miracle, you guys. Check out the details below and may the odds be ever in your favor!
This week has been ridiculous. In my infinite wisdom, I took our social calendar and crammed it with enough meetings/events/appointments/dinners to make Kate Middleton feel faint. It wasn’t all drudgery, but it required time. And it required us to tote our darling little 18-month-old all over town– in the cold, after dark, and definitely after bedtime.
I know what you’re thinking so just say it, already: Mother of the year.
Which is why I would like to take this opportunity to give-it-up for my magic baby.
I was going to make this post a dumb list– maybe something like “5 Tips to Avoid Baby/Toddler Meltdowns When You’re Out and About.” But then I realized a list would imply that I’m some sort of toddler-whisperer. It might make you think I have control over my child. And the truth is I don’t.
I don’t know why this kid sits quietly through meals at hip local gastropubs. I don’t know why he bats his eyes at strangers or why he is content listening to adult chatter with no toys in sight. I don’t know why we can blow through nap time without seeing a tantrum.
Sim is just like that sometimes– he just behaves. I have no idea why.
Please don’t hate me.
When it comes to going out, Simeon can be a really easy baby. At home he meltsdown, throws fits (and throws punches), but when we’re out and about? He’s gets all kinds of Zen. Sometimes I think he’s the Buddha. It’s weird.
So now that I’ve spilled the beans, wish me luck– because you and I both know that choosing to write about my son’s good-nature is guaranteed to trigger all kinds of beastly little-boy behavior in the coming days. I’ve brought it on myself. —> Full disclosure: Right after I wrote this, Sim freaked out at the COSBA meeting (pictured above) over not being offered his drink in a timely fashion– I considered deleting this post altogether but who has the time? Whatever. To our fellow diners, my sincerest apologies. Ugh. #magicbabyfail
You guys– Myles is home! You may remember the giveaway we did over the summer to support my dear friend Lisa in her efforts to fund the adoption of the little squish-festival pictured above. Well, after hours of exhausting paperwork, lots of tears, prayers, and hard work, the little patootie is finally home with his family!
And since some of you contributed, I thought you should know. To those of you who helped out, who entered our giveaway, who purchased items from Lisa’s Etsy shop, and sent virtual high-fives her way– thank you. Check out the fruits of your labor. Don’t they look complete?
|PS: These kid’s crack me up. This photo was accompanied by Lisa’s request that we “don’t mind Caden’s stink face” Actually Caden, I quite like it.|
And just so we’re clear– Myles is crazy adorable, right? I mean, I know that looks aren’t everything but just stop it. That little sugar face! That chunky-monkey belly! Those itty bitty hand dimples! AGH!!! I may have just ovulated from overexposure to the cuteness emanating from his precious little eyeballs. Eegads.
Now that I’ve been sufficiently creepy AND grossed you out by referencing my ovaries, I would like to ask that you keep this bunch in your prayers as they adjust to life with three beautiful munchkins. We love you Maxfield family!