Posts By: wordsfor

Oct 31

One Halloween. Two Halloweens! Ah, ah, ah!

Holidays, Personal 1

Greetings Bookworms,

You may recall that last year I (very predictably) dressed my tiny 2 month old baby up as a penguin. This year I had every intention of dressing Sammy up as a dinosaur. I had a costume and everything. But then I saw this and I couldn’t not buy it. Especially given that my kiddo is such a big Sesame Street fan.

One piece of candy…

Two pieces of candy!

Ah, ah, ah!

Our neighborhood has a tradition of doing a little parade the Saturday before Halloween. It’s not really a parade, per se, it’s more just the neighbor kids taking a stroll and stopping to get candy from participating neighbors. We get TONS of trick-or-treaters on actual Halloween, most of whom come in cars from other places. I LOVE that our neighborhood is such a popular spot (it feels like a Disney movie the night of), but it means that it can be tough to pick out your neighbor kiddos in the crowd, especially if they’re wearing masks and stuff. The little parade allows me to see the kids I actually know in their costumes in broad daylight which is so much fun. Plus, Sammy is really too young for trick-or-treating (and had to ride in the wagon because walking is not a skill he’s quite mastered yet) so it’s a great opportunity to give him a little taste of Halloween fun. He managed to fish a KitKat out of his pumpkin bucket and gnaw through the wrapper before I knew what was happening, so CLEARLY he had a great time.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

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Oct 19

Kid Lit with My Kidlet: Halloween 2018

Kidlit with my Kidlet 5

Greetings, Bookworms!

‘Tis the season for pumpkins and candy, so I thought I’d share a few of the seasonally appropriate books I’ve been reading with Sammy lately. My son has a very impressive library, and, like his very impressive wardrobe, it has little to do with my own shopping. We’ve got some very astute children’s literature aficionados in our orbit who like to spoil the young sir. As a result, Sammers literally has entire stacks of books dedicated to different holidays, and Halloween is one of the best represented.

I LOVE Halloween. Always have. Of course, my love for it never evolved past a child-like infatuation with costumes and trick-or-treating. I abhor haunted houses (jump scares are the actual worst), and don’t much care for horror movies or literature (though there are some exceptions). I just want to hand out lots of candy while wearing a giant pajama onesie that doubles as a costume while I watch Hocus Pocus for the fafillionth time. Thus, books aimed toward young children hit the sweet spot of everything I love about Halloween. It makes for magical bedtime reading. Here are some of my (and Sam’s!) current favorites:

ONE: 10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman, illustrated by Linda Davick. This one is Sammy’s favorite. It’s an adorable rhyming countdown book in which Trick-or-Treaters are frightened off one by one (that sounds like it might be scary, but it isn’t at all. It’s just cute. It’s very clear to the reader that all the things startling the children are either benign or just people in costumes.) When they get down to 2 Trick-or-Treaters, there’s a scene with a person in a mummy costume coming out of an elevator that makes Sammy giggle. Why that particular illustration appeals to him, I do not know. But who can argue with a delighted 1 year old? And why would you want to?

TWO: Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. This one is MY favorite. It isn’t strictly Halloween related, which is good because I’ll be reading it year-round. A witch on her broom keeps adopting animals to adorable effect. The rhymes are such fun, and the illustrations are so cute. I actually saw a cartoon version of this before we got the book- it must have been on PBS Kids because where else would that sort of thing happen? Anyway, it’s delightful for parents and kids. Fabulous to read aloud!

THREE: Little Vampire’s Big Smile by Rose Von Feder: In this super cute little book, a young vampire looses his tooth while bobbing for apples at a Halloween party (let’s just ignore how unhygienic that activity is. I’m not even super skeeved by germs and ew.) It all ends well of course, when the Tooth Fairy (who is a bat, duh) delivers a gold coin and a new tooth to our dear Bertie. This book is exceptionally appropriate at the moment for my child whose canine teeth have just erupted. (It’s a bit ridiculous, really. Of all the things my child could have developed early, it’s teeth. He’s got 16 teeth at not quite 14 months. Probably why he’s not walking yet. Teething is distracting, yo.)

FOUR: Penguin and Pumpkin by Salina Yoon: OK, this isn’t strictly a Halloween book, it’s more fall, but I absolutely ADORE Salina Yoon’s Penguin books. They’re so sweet, and, obviously, PENGUINS. We actually do have a Halloween specific Salina Yoon title, Where’s Boo?, and while it’s adorable, it doesn’t have much of a story. That’s a thing with baby books. It’s important for babies to have access to simple books full of pictures and just a few words that they can get handsy with- bonus if there are sensory aspects, like in Where’s Boo? It’s just that they’re not as much fun for ME to read at bedtime, whereas Penguin has the most delightful adventures. I’d recommend ANYTHING by Salina Yoon for your little one, but Penguin will always hold a special place in my heart.

This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of our Halloween book stack, but since a lot of them fall into the sensory/flap lifting/not so much story category, I’ll keep it short. I may tackle those another day. I’m going to leave you with this pic of Sammers (and me) that was taken just after his first hair cut (cue Mom sobbing.) His hair was growing into a weird rat tail situation, and since it’s not 1991, I thought we should nip that in the bud. He’s wearing some sweet Halloween duds, though!

Photo credit goes to my husband, who, while he hates having his own photo taken, is an excellent documentarian of important moments. Also, I’m really not that blonde. There was some weird lighting or filter action going on here. And yes, that is Sam’s middle finger. That’s how he points at things. And pushes buttons. Social graces may not be his strong suit.

What are some of your favorite kid friendly Halloween reads, Bookworms?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I may receive a commission.*

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Oct 11

Educated by Tara Westover

Audio Books, Memoirs, Non Fiction 6

Hi Ho, Bookworms!

I keep thinking, “dang I should write about some books!” But then I get overwhelmed by the VAST backlog of excellent books I’ve read and not written about and I don’t know where to start. I just end up going on Twitter and talking about how much I love Sesame Street, which isn’t a thing anyone is interested in, really. Except Sammers, obviously. He’s a big fan of Elmo and Abby Cadabby. Yeah, yeah, I know screen time and babies, but it’s EDUCATIONAL. Which brings me to the actual book I want to talk to y’all about today: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. (Look at that segue. I’m a walking Dad Joke.)

I don’t remember where I first heard about this book but I think what finally pushed it high enough on my TBR to actually read it was Alice and Kim’s excellent podcast. Admittedly I gravitate toward fiction as a general rule, but the premise of this sounded too good to pass up. Tara Westover wrote a memoir about her experiences growing up among survivalists in rural Idaho. She never attended traditional school, and spent her days prepping for the end of days or assisting her parents in their work. Her father ran a metal salvage junkyard among other odd jobs, her mother was a midwife and herbalist. Her father was exceptionally fearful of the medical establishment, so her mother’s herbs served the family’s medical needs for everything from colds to concussions. Hard to believe a child from this background would end up earning a PhD from Cambridge, but that’s exactly what happened.

The abstract sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? And yet it doesn’t describe how completely BANANAPANTS this book was. I realize that the whole point of the book was how Westover managed to go from absolutely no formal (or informal, really) educational instruction to a friggin PhD, but I have to admit to being sidetracked by the family’s response to medical emergencies. In fact, I tweeted some of my reactions whilst listening to the audiobook:

For some reason I feel the need to clean up my language knowing my son’s grandparents may read this.

Uh, spoiler alert?

As you can see, I was rather in my feelings about this medical situation. Here’s the thing. I know the medical establishment is not without fault, and I think that there are homeopathic treatments that are very effective that get overlooked in favor of pharmaceuticals. Essential oils may very well help with a myriad of things from headaches to teething to allergy relief. Just, you know, don’t rely on them to cure a traumatic brain injury, third degree burns, or replace vaccinations. And for the love. If you see exposed brain tissue, CALL 911.

I highly recommend this book. The closest read-alike I can come up with is The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (which is also excellent, review here), so if you enjoyed that? Educated is for you.

 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I may receive a small commission.*

 

 

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Aug 22

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Motherhood, Personal 13

My Darling Bookworms,

You’ll have to forgive me, I’m about to leak a bunch of feelings onto the internet. I scheduled this post to go live at 8:09 am central time on August 22, 2018 because at that very moment Sammy will have spent exactly 365 days breathing the air of planet Earth. (Sorry about the air quality, buddy.)

 

I’m a natural pessimist, so, as I mentioned yesterday, I read a lot about the difficult parts of early parenthood. I discussed the possibility of postpartum depression with my doctors before Sammers was born and was totally prepared to call in the reinforcements if needed. I’d read that not everyone immediately bonds with their child and that you’re not a monster if that happens. I’d read that breastfeeding can be incredibly difficult and that it’s totally OK if it doesn’t work out for you. I knew that I was going to be covered in all manner of bodily fluids at different points in time and attempted to steel my ickyness reflex. Heck, I’d even read posts about the first post labor bowel movement being the stuff nightmares were made of. There was no blog post too over-share-y. I was NOT going to go into this blind.

Side note: I’d recommend that all pregnant people do a little PPD research before the baby arrives. It really upsets me that PPD is so stigmatized and taboo. It can happen to ANYBODY and it doesn’t make you a bad parent. The stigma is garbage and leads to unsuspecting new parents suffering in silence during what should be a hormone-fueled haze of wonder and sleeplessness and joy. If you still feel like an emotional train wreck after 2 weeks, CALL YOUR DOCTOR. This has been a public service announcement. (For the record, I wasn’t afflicted with PPD so it’s pretty easy for me to tell people to reach out. But, I mean, you’d have treated your gestational diabetes, wouldn’t you? It’s not a personal failing to require medical assistance.)

To recap, I was prepared for the bad stuff (most of which I avoided by pure dumb luck.) I was not, however, prepared for this tidal wave of heart-eye-emoji, all-consuming adoration. I thought I’d be relieved to have survived the first year of parenthood, not clutching Sammy’s teddy bear in a dim living room and crying because it had all gone by so quickly. I am a SUCH a cliché. Just goes to show that parenting probably never matches anyone’s expectations.

This tiny person that I see every day? I just love him so much! Don’t get me wrong, screaming babies in the middle of the night aren’t any fun. But sometimes after he’s been snoozing in his crib for a while and I’m not ready for bed yet? I miss him. (I’m almost afraid to type that because I’ve become extremely superstitious when it comes to sleep and now he’ll probably stop sleeping altogether and I’ll be a zombie. He still doesn’t usually sleep through the night, so I don’t get to miss him for too long.)

I’d be content to snuggle Sam and watch Sesame Street for hours on end. Every time he learns something new I’m filled with pure delight. I’m completely undeserving of this sweet, kind, occasionally rascally little boy.

Happy Birthday, Samuel James. I love you throughout all the infinite universes. To the moon and back simply is not far enough.

Oh right, this is a book blog. Ha! I read I Love You Just Like This! to Sammers the other night before bed and got choked up. It’s the perfect book for your Elmo obsessed kiddo and your Mama Heart. (Thank you, Auntie Angie!)

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Aug 21

On The Night You Were Born

Personal 12

::Waves Sheepishly::

Hi. Hi there. I have… Not been writing. But here I am. Writing. Because MY BABY IS TURNING ONE TOMORROW. A whole year. It occurred to me that I never wrote out his birth story. I kind of want to document it before it goes all sepia toned, you know? On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman is one of our bedtime story staples, so I was like “what a great idea, to tell a story about the night you were born.” This post is way more journal entry than adorable children’s book (sadly, no dancing polar bears), but it’s what was in my brain. So read it or don’t, it’s probably TMI, but not exceptionally graphic. It’s not at all book related, despite my half-hearted attempt at a tie in with the title.

The young sir was due on August 15, 2017, a date that came and went with little fanfare and no baby. I’d read extensively during my pregnancy, mostly just “real talk” mom blogs and the like, so I’d have some kind of idea what I was getting myself into. (I intentionally sought out the “I Wish I’d Been Warned” kind of advice because I find knowing the ugly bits helps me deal in case things go haywire.) I didn’t crack an actual “parenting” book until I was desperately sleep deprived, and even then I fell back on the expertise of a blogger turned author. Go figure.

In any case, I knew that babies, particularly first babies, tend to run a bit late. And I knew that if my life up to that point were any indication, I’d be waiting. In fact, I saw somewhere early in my second trimester that a full solar eclipse was going to be visible across a large swath of the US on August 21, and I figured my kid would wait until then to make a grand entrance. I said this in jest while hoping against hope that I’d be one of those week-or-two-early types, because being super pregnant in August in the Northern Hemisphere sucks. I’m pretty sure being super pregnant in any weather is terrible, but like, I was swollen AF and it was too hot to even consider anything so glamorous as compression stockings. Me and my sausage feet woke up on eclipse day in a foul mood, watched the eclipse on TV in a foul mood, and waited for my doctor’s appointment that afternoon in a foul mood.

This was taken 9 days before Sam was born. I was already irritated. Check out that belly!

At the appointment, I asked my doctor to set an induction date, seeing as I was nearly a week overdue already. I desperately needed to know that they wouldn’t just let me stay pregnant forever. We set an induction for the following evening and I went home. A couple of hours later I started having some cramps, then figured out they were contractions. I called the doctor and she told me to head to the hospital to get things checked out. I’d been warned by friends that you’re not allowed to eat once you go into labor, so before we left the house, I ate a PB&J, pausing to utter such eloquence as “this suuuuuucks” during the contractions. Because they did suck. *My husband heard me utter “this suuuuuuuuuuuuuucks” at literally every single contraction for hours and hours and hours. I never swore. Just bemoaned the suckage that is labor pain and crushed the bones in his hand. Again and again and again.*

I wasn’t the type of person who went into labor and delivery with a birth plan or expectations. Given the long and frustrating path we walked to even get to this point, I honestly didn’t give a crap how the birth went down. I knew I wasn’t going to attempt a drug free birth and that I fully intended to take advantage of pain relief options as soon as they were offered. The rest, I figured, would fall into place. (I say I didn’t have a plan, but obviously I had some kind of plan. I would not have been prepared for the baby to be in such a rush that I had to deliver him on my bathroom floor. I should be more appreciative of Sam’s patience.)

I arrived to a packed ER, since it was past normal maternity ward hours, and was escorted to a wheel chair. My husband had to drop me off and park the car because all the close spots were taken. As it turns out, celestial events seem to have an impact on sending women into labor. Well, that, and the fact that August is the most popular time of year to give birth, but I digress. I was wheeled up to L&D and waited in a hallway for a while before they could get me into a triage room. I have no idea how long. Time had ceased to be meaningful. Eventually I got into a triage room and was given a hospital gown. Through my entire hospital stay I could not figure out how to wear these effing gowns. They had all these snaps on the arm holes and ties in the back and I just got all tangled up. Had I been more lucid I’m sure I would have worried that my inability to get a gown on was an ill omen for my future as a parent, but all I remember is that Dirty Dancing (I carried a watermelon!) was on the room TV when I got there, and it was no longer on the TV when I was transferred to a regular L&D room. I’d gone into labor at about 5, gotten to the hospital around 7 or 8, and was in triage until 11 or midnight. Because, as I mentioned, every woman in the tri-county area had gone into labor at the same time. There simply weren’t any rooms at the proverbial inn. (Ba du bum)

During my time in triage, I hadn’t progressed much. I was worried that they were just going to send me home to fend for myself, since I was obviously a huge wimp for thinking I was in THAT MUCH pain while only being one centimeter dilated. The baby had shown some signs of potential distress though, so I was allowed to stay. At the time I was assured it was probably nothing to worry about, but it was a good idea to keep monitoring things in the hospital. I was so relieved. I’m pretty sure I begged for pain killers the entire time I was in triage. A nurse gave me a couple of pills at one point, but they might have been candy. I mean, they literally did absolutely nothing for the pain. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they were indeed placebo, reserved for annoying pregnant women who have a low pain tolerance.

Once I was installed in the regular room, I was like “soooo about this epidural.” And they were like “you’re not really far enough along for an epidural how about this other thing?” And I was like “I’ll take whatever you’ve got.” I have no idea what they gave me, other than that it took the edge off the pain. I’ve never really understood the phrase “take the edge off” until I was given this medication. Like, everything still hurt, but it felt more dull and less stabby. An improvement, to be sure. Eventually that wore off, and when I asked for more they were like “your only option now is an epidural” and I was like “I’ve been waiting to hear you say that!” A lovely anesthesiologist named Joel came and administered that sweet, sweet spinal relief.

I was able to doze a bit after that, so I removed my contacts and settled in for whatever was to come. At some point my doctor came in and broke my water (I’m like, REALLY good at retaining water. And amniotic fluid. The indignity of it all…) There were several more distress signals from the baby that resolved themselves. It was just like “OK, body, hurry up and do something.”

Until approximately 7:30 the following morning. An attending physician came in to give me the “you’re not progressing and it’s been like 14 hours, we might need to consider some other options” talk. Then the proverbial feces hit the fan. Some alarms went off, and my room was suddenly flooded with doctors and nurses. It was like an episode of ER. We went from “we may need to consider some options” to “you’re getting a C-Section right now and we’re not sure if we’re going to be able to keep you awake for it.”

I am extremely grateful for the fact that I’d had Joel give me an epidural in the wee hours because the means to administer the medication that would allow me to remain conscious was already in place. I’m also extremely grateful that the baby’s heart rate stabilized enough so that by the time I was wheeled into the OR (like 8 minutes later) we were in a slightly less frantic situation. (I’m pretty sure they’d have put me under regardless if the baby’s heart rate was still in dire straits.) Scrubs were literally thrown at my husband, and they told him they weren’t sure he was going to be allowed in the room (that was contingent on my consciousness, apparently.) They weren’t sure if my doctor was going to be there. It’s a damn good thing I didn’t go in with any expectations, because if I had, this would NOT have been part of the plan.

I remember being terrified, saying “I can’t lose him!” into an oxygen mask, and then devolving into repeating a looooooooooong chain of Hail Marys aloud. The repetition and chant-like nature of Catholic prayer is soothing in a crisis, and I was way beyond being bashful. So I made it to the OR, my doctor, luckily, made it in time, my husband was allowed in the room, and a few minutes and some weird pulling sensations later (probs my organs being all removed and whatnot. C-Sections are crazy) I heard my Samuel start wailing. Best. Sound. Ever.

Now, because I’d been in an emergency situation, my arms were strapped to the table. And, because I’d been an emergency situation, I hadn’t bothered to grab my glasses and I’d already taken out my contacts. I was told to look to my left where Sammers was being weighed, but everything was fuzzy. Eventually Jim brought the baby close to me, but I couldn’t hold him, because arms strapped to the table. I could, however, see him much better and proceeded to give his tiny face so many kisses that my lips were covered in the antibiotic ointment they put on newborns’ eyes. Seeing as my guts were still out and the baby was doing fine, I sent my husband away to follow the baby to whatever newborn testing stuff needed to be done and the staff sewed me up.

Hubs haaaaaaaaaates when I post pics of him, but since you can’t see his face, I think this is allowed. Look at my tiny Sammy! You can see that my lips are a bit shiny from all the smooching.

At this point, since the tension was broken and I had a healthy perfect baby boy, I started chit chatting with the folks holding the scalpels and stuff. The staff commented that Joel had done a great job placing my epidural, but I think the anesthesiologist who ended up doing the actual surgery part was a little salty when I referred to Joel as “my new best friend.” Sorry, anesthesiologist whose name I don’t remember. You did great, too. I didn’t feel a thing, other than the pulling stuff that I was supposed to feel.

Fun facts for you. Did you know that if your baby is “sunny side up” (meaning head down, but face up) it can make even early labor stupid painful and result in a prolonged and difficult birth? Also, a “nuchal cord” where the baby’s umbilical cord is wrapped around their neck is usually NBD and resolves itself, but sometimes it IS a big deal, like, if it’s in a weird position because your baby is facing the wrong way and it gets all smashed by contractions and messes with the oxygen flow? Those are things! Unpredictable things!

I am very grateful. Grateful that I had an epidural even though I was only like 3 cm dilated. Grateful that I was in a hospital with an excellent team of doctors and nurses and techs who know how to put guts back into people. Grateful that my doctor made it in time (although, I’m sure the attending would have done a great job too, but it was nice to have a familiar face wielding the scalpel.) Grateful that I was able to remain conscious. Grateful that my husband got to witness the birth of our son. Grateful that I had a pretty easy recovery. And most of all, obviously, grateful for the tiny human person I love so desperately to be here and healthy and hearty. Whew.

Time was rendered meaningless while I was in labor, and it never fully came back into my cognition. I have no freaking idea how this was all a full year ago, or how my once teeny fragile baby has grown into a babbling, mobile, toothy, autonomous person. I still know just enough to realize that I know nothing, and thus we stumble through, delighting in the joys and trudging through the obstacles. Happy start-of-labor day, Sammers. You are my greatest joy.

 

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Apr 24

Kidlit with my Kidlet

Children's Fiction, Family, Kidlit with my Kidlet 22

Howdy Bookworms!

I’ve been reading and listening to oodles of books lately, but oddly, all I want to write about are my favorite books to read with Sam. Since I rarely write anything these days, I thought I’d just run with it. Sammers is 8 months old (already?! HOW DID THAT HAPPEN???) but since he’s still, you know, a baby who can’t actually say intelligible words, I get to choose our bedtime stories every night. Thanks to our extremely generous friends and family (and occasionally Mom’s impulse shopping) Sammers has a very impressive book collection. Still, there are a few that I choose to read over and over again simply because I happen to love them. (Don’t worry, I’ll do another post specifically featuring our large collection penguin books one of these days, but today we’re penguin free.)

Soon we’re going to have to move the toys off the top shelf to give the books more space.

The The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, pictures by Dan Hanna: This is the MOST fun to read out loud. Remember when Ludacris rapped Llama Llama Red Pajama? (If not, check it out HERE) That’s an amazing book and a super fun rap, but I’d love to see what a rapper would do with The Pout-Pout Fish (specifically, I’d like to hear what Lin-Manuel Miranda would do with The Pout-Pout Fish) – it’s got creative vocabulary and great rhythm. “Kaleidoscope of mope” is practically a Shakespearean insult. I’ve seen all kinds of statistics that say kids should be exposed to a certain number of words by a certain age, and I can’t help but think The Pout-Pout Fishshould be on every kid’s book shelf simply because the vocab is such a treat.

I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt, Illustrated by Cyd Moore: If you’re familiar with the old standards, this book’s structure is very similar to the classic The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown (of Goodnight Moon fame, natch). A little kid being tucked into bed asks his mother if she’d still love him under a number of rather outlandish circumstances, namely if he were a skunk so stinky that his name was “Stinky Face.” I’m rather prone to using such nicknames as terms of endearment (my poor son is often called “Stinky Pete” or “Grumpy Gus” depending on his mood or the state of his diaper) so I found the book’s title especially appealing. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to do different voices for the mother and son. It’s just plain fun to read.

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin: This book will hit you right in the parenting/aunting/caregiving feels, a la Oh, the Places You’ll Go! The illustrations are beautiful and the message is so, so sweet. “When you were too small/ To tell me hello,/ I knew you were someone/ I wanted to know.” Just pass me the box of tissues, okay? This book is an awesome choice for a baby shower gift or a graduation present. Our copy came from one of our showers, and I’m going to have to go back and check the inscription to see who sent it so I can send another thank you note.  Because reasons.

This is just a tiny sample of the many excellent books on our shelves, but they’ve been in heavy rotation for bedtime stories of late. What are some of your favorite children’s books, Bookworms? This dude is always interested in new recommendations!

One of Sam’s daycare teachers took this picture and I can’t get over it. HOW DID I PRODUCE THIS PERFECT CREATURE?!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Apr 05

Baby Sleep Books: A Goldilocks Tale

Motherhood 12

Howdy Bookworms!
I know, I disappeared AGAIN but I have reasons. The tiny human I helped to create has been alternately sick or teething for the past 3 months solid. I’m not exaggerating. The kid is 7 months old and has EIGHT TEETH. Now he’s cutting molars. And before you say “oh no, you’re crazy, kids don’t cut molars that young,” he’s already got WAY more teeth than average for his age, so just take my word for it, okay? All of this teething and sickness (RSV in an infant is no freaking joke, y’all) and general developmental milestones made for some less than stellar nights of sleep, so I turned to books in an attempt to improve upon that. And thus I began my “how do I get my kid to stop waking up every 2 hours” journey.

I know I’m probably stepping into a giant minefield writing a parenting post, but I read SO MANY of these dang books that I feel the need to discuss them. To start, my parenting approach is basically:

  1. Different things work for different families.
  2. Be humble and flexible.

The first book I tried out was Elizabeth Pantley’s The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night. This was my first choice because, obviously, I hate hearing the young sir cry and if I could kiss his cheeks 24 hours a day, I probably would. While I liked a lot of what this book had to say, it wasn’t a perfect fit for our situation. I’m nursing, so I found a lot of those tips helpful, but it also advocated for co-sleeping and room sharing which isn’t my jam. Overall I didn’t hate the book, but it was the proverbial Mama Bear’s chair of sleep books. Just a little too soft.

I mean, seriously. THIS FACE! Also, note the four bottom teeth. The four on the top have cut through, but you can’t quite see them when he smiles yet.

The next book I attempted was On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep by Gary Ezzo and Dr. Robert Bucknam. This was recommended to me from a place of absolute kindness, and I harbor no ill will toward the gal who pointed me in its direction. However. I don’t know that I’ve disliked a book so vehemently since I was required to read Moby Dick in high school. I found it incredibly rigid in its recommendations and I thought the tone was smug and dismissive of virtually every other parenting philosophy in the history of the universe. I didn’t make it very far in before I gave up the ship on this one. Do I think it’s a lifesaver for some families? I mean, it must be since it’s sold a boatload of copies. Perhaps if I could have gotten past the tone of the book I would have found some nuggets of information helpful. Ultimately though, I couldn’t stomach it and I’m glad I accessed it through the library and didn’t give these folks my hard earned dollars. I’m afraid On Becoming Baby Wise is a giant NOPE for me.

There were a few other books I attempted to start along the way, but I found my Goldilocks moment when I stumbled upon Precious Little Sleep: The Complete Baby Sleep Guide for Modern Parents by Alexis Dubief. Precious Little Sleep began as a blog and eventually morphed into a book. This was EXACTLY what I wanted in a sleep book. Irreverent, funny, and helpful. Instead of a “follow this exact system” approach, Dubief explained the major tenets of most sleep training philosophies. She embraced the idea that different approaches work for different families. Plus, there were Princess Bride references. I like to think the author and I would be friends should we meet IRL, and I’d much rather take advice from a friend than from anyone claiming to have THE ONE CORRECT ANSWER.

So where are we now? Things are much better. We arrived at this point mostly through my allowing a few minutes of fussing to see if the baby would put himself back to sleep instead of my rushing in at the first tiny noise. The big takeaway for me from Dubief’s book was that giving Sam a little space to figure things out for himself was acceptable and that if he hadn’t calmed himself within a few minutes it was totally okay for me or Jim to go to him and soothe him in whatever way seemed appropriate. It also made me feel that the end goal was simply finding a sleep situation we could all live with; we’re not a failing at life if he doesn’t sleep a solid 12 hours without a peep.

Marauder in training. So many adventures await.

We’ve gone from waking every 1.5-2 hours to once or twice a night. I really don’t mind the 1-2 wake up calls, though, because I get physically uncomfortable going a super long stretch without feeding. (That’s just real life boob talk right there.) I’m sure things will change down the road. I’m sure we’ve got plenty more sleep regressions and illnesses and random setbacks we’ll have to overcome. I’m sure at some point those 1-2 wake up calls are going to get old and I’ll want to eliminate them. But for now? We’re all getting more sleep and I feel less like a zombified mom failure.

So, Bookworms who are also parents (or who hang around kids a lot)- how do you feel about parenting books? And to you Bookworms who are not parents- isn’t my kid cute and aren’t books just wonderful in general?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Jan 31

A Perfectly Bookish Nursery: Penguin Edition

Bookish Baby 13

Salutations Bookworms!

Today I’m going to explain how to create the world’s most adorable penguin and book themed nursery. You ready?

Step One: Go back in time. You know that girl who walked into the first day of 6th grade late carrying a trombone? Make friends with her. It’ll be easy, her locker is right next to yours and you have the same schedule. Plus she’s weird, like you.

During this period, you may also exchange tiny sticker versions of your school photos. 7th grade fashion. This was during the “we simply must grow out our bangs” awkward stage.

Step Two: Wait 22 years.

Step Three: Give your artistic best friend of over two decades creative license to design your kid’s nursery.

If you’re lucky enough to have a BFF like mine, she will weep tears of joy when she finds out you’re expecting at long last. Then she will offer her services to help you in any way she can. Fabric swatches will be exchanged, designs will be discussed, and two states away, your child’s bedroom decor will be lovingly constructed.

See those penguin curtains? The wall art? The coordinating Diaper Genie?!

I just realized as I’m posting this photo that my BFF’s mom was the one who made the throw blanket on the back of the rocking chair. It’s a family affair, the craftiness. The lethargic looking penguin was something I already had in my possession. Like that’s in any way surprising.

Possibly the most important element the bookish penguin nursery: a book shelf. It’s full of books and penguins, naturally. In the 5 months Sam has been here, many of these toys have shifted to new homes to make room for more books, but I didn’t feel like taking new pictures. If you look closely, you’ll notice that many of the stuffies on the bottom shelf are Little Golden Books and Dr. Seuss characters! And yes, that IS a Fraggle Rock puppet on the top shelf. (My SIL is amazing.)  If you needed more proof my BFF is among the best of humans, the coordinated penguin set next to the Wembley is a penguin bowling toy that I bought for my “nephew” when he was teeny tiny. He’s almost 10 now. She saved all the penguin stuff I ever bought for her kids to give back to me when I had one of my own one day. Excuse me, my eyeballs are leaking.

The penguin mobile wasn’t handmade but it was one of the first things I put on my registry. Obviously. And no, the Sleep Sheep didn’t stay in the crib once the baby arrived. I don’t know why I feel the need to clarify that, but I DO know the rules of safe sleeping.

Here’s a close up of the wall art pieces. I know a lot of bookish types get a little cringe-y when book pages are used in craft projects, but let me assure you that all the books used in this project were battered old copies destined for recycle bins. I chose some of my favorite children’s book quotes and the Bestie decoupaged pages from the books in the background and painted the quotes over top. We’ve got Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, and The Phantom Tollbooth represented. The Green Eggs and Ham quote is right over Sam’s crib, for obvious reasons.

Sam’s book collection is going to be another post entirely, but I wanted to show off how delightful his nursery is. You know. Before he’s old enough to tell me he’s had quite enough of the penguin stuff, MOM.

Did I mention she and her fellow drove 5 hours with two very small children in tow to attend my baby shower? Then we had dinner in a microbrewery that used to be a church. As you do.

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Of course, the coolest stuff in the post isn’t available for purchase because it’s one of a kind homemade goodness. You’ll just have to find your own crafty weird BFF. Mine is taken.*

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Jan 18

Bite Size Reviews: Should I Start Numbering These?

Bite Size Reviews 3

Howdy Bookworms!

This post was originally supposed to go up in July. Because I’m clearly on top of things. I’m still going to make an attempt at recapping the books I’ve read in the past gazillion months because I like having a record of these things for my own purposes. Also because some of these books are really excellent and you OBVIOUSLY need to know about them. Ready???

ONE: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli- This book was so delightful. Just, SO delightful. A loving non traditional family, a teenage girl after my own heart, a sweet little love story. If you need a heartwarming read (which, in the midst of this cooooold January, I imagine that you do) you should definitely check this book out.

TWO: George by Alex Gino- This was a pick for my neighborhood book club and it was so good. It’s a short book, geared toward the middle grade set, telling the story of a transgender child. I cried several times whilst reading this, though it probably didn’t help that I was hopped up on pregnancy hormones. Who knows? I might have sobbed my face off anyway. It’s a very touching story written by a genderqueer author, and, as is so often the case, #ownvoices are the best voices.

THREE: Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney- This wasn’t quite the rollicking romp I’d expected, but a more subtle and complex story of a woman recalling her fascinating life during a long New Year’s Eve stroll through NYC. Career, marriage, motherhood, divorce, and an eventual breakdown all factor in to the singular life of one Lillian Boxfish. There are, of course, quirky lighter bits of the story, particularly in her encounters with the people she meets during her trek across the city.

FOUR: The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik- This is the followup novel to my beloved Sofia Khan is Not Obliged (review) and I HAVE FEELINGS ABOUT IT. Unfortunately I can’t really get into those feelings without spoiling the book, but I took to twitter and found someone to discuss things with via direct message so I will be able to contain spoileriffic self. (The fortuitous meeting of a like minded readers was entirely facilitated by Ayisha Malik, no less. What a treasure she is!) You should definitely read Sofia Khan is Not Obliged and once you do that you’ll be desperate to read The Other Half of Happiness and then you can email me and we can discuss things quietly like respectful grown ups. If you can consider emails full of SHOUTY CAPITALS “quiet,” that is.

FIVE: Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella- The last thing a woman recalls is a rather unpleasant night out at the bar, and she wakes up 3 years later in a life she doesn’t recognize at all. It’s the good old amnesia story line, and it’s Sophie Kinsella, so it’s cheeky good fun.

WHEW! Five books down, a… lot… to go. Ah well, you’ve got to start somewhere, right? Talk to me bookworms! How’s January treating you? Are you in the Northern Hemisphere and FROZEN like I am? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jan 08

We’re All Mad Here: A Baby Shower Story

Bookish Baby 16

Greetings Bookworms!
It’s a brand new year and my only resolution was to smother my baby in kisses and dress him in as many cutesy outfits as he’ll tolerate because it’s a short window until he has opinions about what he wears. But if I were in the market for doing a REAL resolution, it would involve writing some of the blog posts that have been bouncing around my brain. I thought we’d start by featuring one of my baby showers (yes, ONE of. I had two major ones, a small one from my husband’s co-workers, and more gifts and cards than you can shake a stick at. Let’s just say this is one blessed baby and the 100 pack of thank-you notes I ordered came in super handy.)

I’m a big fan of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass. I realize that’s not at all uncommon among bookish types, but nevertheless it’s true. I have a substantial Alice collection (though nothing when compared to Julz’s- her entire guest room is Alice themed and it’s GLORIOUS. It’s even cuter in person, which I’m mentioning because I feel fancy as heck for knowing this gal IRL.) Hence, two of my neighbors/book club friends/craft queens/excellent humans took it upon themselves to plan the most adorable Alice in Wonderland themed baby shower in the history of ever. MOVE OVER, PINTEREST, YOU HAVE NOTHING ON ANGIE AND EMILY. Behold.

Yes, the invitations were bookmarks!!! Also, ignore the teddy bear. I figured it would be rude to put my girl Angie’s personal phone number on the internet. I believe I shrieked and jumped up and down when I saw these.

Not even the magnificence of the invitations could have prepared me for the party that was to come, though. Every teeny tiny detail was so perfect! I’m just going to insert a zillion pics now, okay?

A brief overview of the tablescape. If you’re in Central Illinois, this was in the party room of So Chic Boutique which was cute AF.

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know I’m a sucker for flowers, particularly gardening with annuals. See some examples here, herehere, or here. One of my favorite places to shop for annuals is a local seasonal garden center which happens to be run by Emily’s mom. Total coincidence, BTW. I shopped there before I knew who owned it. If you’re in Central Illinois, Best Buds always has beautiful and unusual stock. I highly recommend them. This year, as soon as their flowers began arriving, Emily texted me to tell me about a new variety of petunia, not only because it was pretty, but also because it was named Queen of Hearts. Yeah, I bought like 6 of them for my yard. The minute I saw them on the tables at the shower, I started telling everyone, “OMG those are QUEEN OF HEARTS PETUNIAS!” She knew I’d appreciate them, and I so, so did!

Also, the Mad Hatter flower pots read 8/15- my due date. The details they put in are still boggling my mind months later. Sam, however, was born a FULL WEEK AFTER his due date. Which in hindsight is totally fine, but it led to the LONGEST WEEK OF MY LIFE.

 

The games were beyond adorable and the favors were the drink me/eat me cup and saucer with the little packets of tea. This literally could not be any cuter. It just couldn’t. Unfortunately I am crap at taking photos when I am this excited, so blurry.

This is the perfect example of how EXTRA Angie is. She painted the freaking roses red! She made these cupcakes in her own kitchen, got the frosting to look like a rose, and then airbrushed the white rose to look like it was being painted. I don’t deserve friends this awesome.

Everything was so sweet and perfect! I was completely overwhelmed by my friends’ creativity and holy smokes did the guests EVER set me up for life with Sammers. Generous would be a gross understatement. But at the very end of the party, Angie pulled the Angie-est move that has ever been Angied. That’s right, the gal who color codes her closet included a request in the invitations that guests wear blue so we could get a color coordinated photo op. I laughed so hard when I found out, but I’ve got to be honest- it turned out really nicely. In hindsight, her asking what I was planning to wear clearly had an ulterior motive…

Friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and a super charming sign to cover my swollen ankles. (The sign now hangs in Sam’s room, of course. My little Wild Thing.)

 

 

L to R: Angie, me & Sam & my cankles, & Emily.

The thank you notes have long since been delivered, but reliving this shower to write this post has made me grateful all over again. BRING IT IN FOR A HUG, Y’ALL!

*If you make an Amazon purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. If you make a purchase at either of the small businesses in this post, I will receive nothing but good karma.*

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