Tag: penguins

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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Oct 31

The First Halloween is the Penguin Halloween

Holidays 4

Happy Halloween, Bookworms!

I just thought I’d drop in to show you the cutest penguin in all the land. Hope you’re enjoying some costume filled festivities today!

The Saturday before Halloween, our neighborhood has a costume parade. It was cold, but Sammers was a good sport.

And you know I wasn’t about to send him out dressed like a penguin ALONE, right? My years of matching costumes are numbered, I’m going to enjoy them!

Happy Halloween!

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Aug 06

Questioning Katie: What’s With the Penguins?

Personal, Q&A, Questioning Katie 16

Howdy Howdy Bookworms!

I’m braving another edition of Questioning Katie even though the internet thinks I’m bonkers. That’s right. The day the post in which I announced I’d be interviewing myself went live, Skype saw fit to show me ads for schizophrenia medication. I’m rather offended that the internet thinks I’m significantly more severely mentally ill than I actually am. Way to be a jerk, Skype. I wasn’t hearing voices, I was just lonely, OKAY?!

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to the fun. I’m answering a question today from an ACTUAL PERSON. (Thank you for submitting questions!!! I’m going to answer one a week until I run out, which I hope is never, because I do not want to prove Skype right!)

questioningkatie

Today’s question comes from Heather AKA Capricious Reader: Why penguins?  

The penguin thing goes back quite a long way so my memories are all misty and water-colored,  but I believe the obsession can be traced to a third grade project. We had to make a diorama of an animal habitat out of a shoe box. (Is this still a thing children do?) I decided to create a penguin diorama for two reasons. First, I found a wax penguin mold a rama that my household had acquired at some point from the Brookfield Zoo. Second, I knew that a penguin’s habitat would require snow which meant I would get to play with cotton balls and glitter. GLITTER! After the project, things sort of snowballed.

My dad let me pick out a Valentine’s Day stuffed animal later that year and I chose a penguin with a top hat perched on a stuffed iceberg (it was DARN cute. Also, my dad is a giant softie.) I found myself inexplicably drawn to the Chilly Willy the Penguin segments during my morning cartoon fix. I started taking books about penguins out of the school library (because books.) People started to catch on, and it just sort of happened… Then one day I woke up and had a pair of sparkly penguins perched atop my wedding cake.

wedding cake

I really wish I had a photo of the diorama that started it all, but back when I was a kidlet, the cameras and the rolls of film they required were reserved for birthdays, Christmas, ballet recitals, and other big events. Everyday school projects weren’t considered photo worthy because the people who made Instagram probably weren’t born yet. (I have not verified that statement, I just assume that all brilliant internet people are younger than I am.)

At this point in my life, the penguin thing feels like an integral part of who I am. How old is a kid in third grade? Like 8? The vast majority of my life has been spent entrenched in penguiny goodness. I get texts and notes and messages all the time from people who see penguin items and think of me. I mean, how cool is that? People see an adorable animal and they think “KATIE!” I like to think it means that people have a mostly positive association with me, but I can’t be sure. Penguins do tend to poop wherever they feel like it and they can be a little rude with the pecking… Maybe I ought to rethink this…

Got any more questions for me, Bookworms?! Ask me anything*!

*Within reason. There are some questions that you probably REALLY don’t want to know the answers to, you know?*

 

 

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Jan 21

"Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple. (Why Did Nobody Mention the PENGUINS?!)

Book Club, Humor, Pretentious 33

Hello my Bookworms,

I’m hosting this month’s neighborhood book club meeting, which means, among other things, that I got to choose the book. I decided on Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple, because I’d seen that a lot of my favorite book bloggers really enjoyed it. Everybody who reviewed this book mentioned its humor, of which there was plenty, but NOBODY mentioned the PENGUINS.

I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. This book is comprised of a series of emails and other correspondence between characters that are loosely woven together with narration by the novel’s 15 year old protagonist. The book is set among Seattle’s elite against the backdrop of private school drama. Bernadette is not your typical private school parent. While the other mothers volunteer for decoration and recruitment committees, Bernadette emails her personal assistant in India to make dinner reservations. Bernadette’s antics do nothing to endear her to the other mothers, particularly her neighbor Audrey Griffin. While Bernadette is eccentric and not interested in joining in, her daughter thrives and is an outstanding student.

bernadette

Who doesn’t enjoy a snarky, quirky fish-out-of-water story? Granted, you have to get into the right frame of mind to enjoy this book, there is plenty to be enjoyed. If you’re familiar at all with the show Weeds (which is about a suburban mom turned drug dealer), I can tell you that Audrey’s character reminded me a TON of Celia Hodes. For whatever that reference is worth. I don’t know if you all share my penchant for premium channel dramedies.

Anyway, the bulk of the narrative takes place through passive aggressive emails. It’s a good time. The very best part of this book, for me though, was the trip to Antarctica. When Bee comes home with another perfect report card, she reminds her parents of a promise they’d made her to take a family trip to Antarctica as her reward f0r good grades. I know what you’re thinking… “I didn’t get JACK for my good grades.” Aside from the occasional Book-It personal pan pizza, I didn’t either. But, you know. Rich people do weird things.

What’s the coolest thing about Antarctica?! Penguins live in Antarctica! (If this is your first visit to Words for Worms, you may require some background information on my penguin problem. Check out that link and then come back. Back? Okay good. Now check this one.) Through this book, I learned all about what taking a trip to Antarctica actually entails. It’s fascinating! Do I ever want to go? Not really. It’s super expensive and it’s really really cold. (They do, however, have a Penguin encounter at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, I’m wondering if I can get the husband to take me to celebrate the big 3-0? Nothing says “I’m only kind of an adult” like spending a milestone birthday meeting and greeting penguins. Am I right?!)

I don’t want to ruin the book for you (you can tell I really like something if I’m not willing to post spoilers.) I will tell you that I’m EXTREMELY excited to host Book Club with this as my topic. Now I just need to create a cocktail to mimic “The Pink Penguin” that they serve aboard the Antarctic cruise ship. Anybody have ideas on recipes they want to send my way?!

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Jan 18

Confession Friday: I am NOT a Penguin

Children's Fiction 27

Happy Friday, Bookworms!

I’d like to take the opportunity to share with you a book that has taught me a lot of critical life lessons. I’m going to review the masterpiece that is If You Were a Penguin by Wendell and Florence Minor. (You’d be crazy to think I didn’t notice that the wife in this penguin writing duo has THE SAME NAME as the wife in the penguin writing duo of Mr. Popper’s PenguinsI’m observant like that.)  This book has so much to offer.

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If I were a penguin, I’d always use the subjunctive tense correctly.

1. It gives the reader useful scientific facts! It’s important for children to understand that when they see a photo like this, the penguins are NOT typically trying to eat their babies’ heads. (I say typically, because we’ve got to be open to the possibility of zombie penguins.) They regurgitate their partially digested fish and squid bits into their children’s mouths. It’s not gross. It’s SCIENCE.

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“You could eat squids and fishes without any dishes.”

2. This book points out that there’s more to penguin habitats than frozen tundra. Ever heard of the Galapagos Islands? FACT: it’s warm there. FACT: Penguins live there. FACT: Charles Darwin was all up in the Galapagos Islands. FACT: Darwin = Science.

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“You could go for a swim in warm or cold places.”

3. Tobogganing is FUN. Seriously. If you could travel faster sliding around on your belly than you could walking, wouldn’t you slide everywhere? The correct answer is YES, OBVIOUSLY.

This guy knows how to party.

This guy knows how to party.

4. This book encourages penguin-like behavior! “But here’s a surprise for me and for you- penguins do lots of things that you can do too!”

Pure penguin inspired joy.

Pure penguin inspired joy.

Imagination is a wonderful thing, and this book is an exercise in hypothetical thinking and whimsy. There truly ARE lots of things penguins can do that I can do too… But not everything should be attempted.  Please, learn from my mistakes!

1. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to feed a youngster partially digested fish. Particularly if this child is not your offspring.

2. Not ALL beaches have penguins. Don’t waste your day at the beach trying to hunt them down. Odds are very good you are NOT on the Galapagos Islands.

3. Belly tobogganing is not the most efficient form of human travel, and should be avoided in an office environment. It will land you in an awkward meeting with HR. Also, rug burn.

I sincerely hope that all of you bookworms will procure your own copies of If I Were a Penguin. So much goodness to be had. So many lessons to be learned. Tell me. Have any of you learned valuable life lessons from children’s books? Please. Share them with the class so that we may all benefit from your wisdom.

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Dec 27

9 out of 10 Penguins Prefer My Blog (The 10th Penguin was Eaten by a Leopard Seal.)

Blogging, Humor, Personal 37

Hello my Bookworms!

I know, I know, I’ve been absent. I’m sorry. I’ve been rolling around jovially in a potent stew of holiday spirit, thousands of cookies, and more than a few drops of liquor. It’s been a magical experience, to be sure. I’ve been trying to keep up with my reading, but you try to read when there is so much visceral fun to be had. Seriously.

Merry Christmas Y'all!

Did you not see this? Crazy fun times!

Anyway, I’ve been pondering some things. It’s a little bit unusual for me to be running a “review” site and not have a ratings system. There are so many cute and clever ratings systems out there. There are ye olde “stars” to be had, cups of tea, thumbs up/down, and the like. I suppose if I had a ratings system it would consist of penguins, because I love them. Then I could say things like “This book was so bad, all the penguins got angry and pecked it to shreds! Or perhaps they pecked it because it was about the ocean and they got confused thinking it contained tasty penguin snacks.”

wedding cake

My wedding cake had a penguin topper, you guys. This is a lifelong love affair with the penguin I’ve got going on. No joke.

But alas, I feel I am incapable of a ratings system. I’ve noticed my Goodreads ratings are completely arbitrary. I feel stingy with my 5 stars, so something has to be AMAZING to get that 5th star. At the same time though, I feel like an ass to give something a mere two stars unless it had no redeeming qualities. Just because I didn’t like something, doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Then I get this horrible miasma of books that DO NOT belong together thrown into the 3 star crowd. Like, The Hobbit, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Wuthering Heights all ended up with the same rating? What the what? That’s not right at all!

And yet, with my random “eh it wasn’t my favorite, but it had a dragon and Bilbo is totes adorbs” or “it got a lot of people to read who otherwise wouldn’t have” or “I can see why it’s a classic but it wasn’t my cup of tea because I wanted to punch Heathcliff and Catherine all the time” every last one of these got three stars. This is why I can’t do ratings. I have to be overly verbose and TALK ABOUT IT.

How do you all feel about ratings systems? Are you more likely to see a movie with two thumbs up? Are you more into a book with stellar Goodreads feedback? Do you wish I talked more about penguins? (I can make the penguin thing happen. Seriously.) Talk to me. Bookworms!

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Sep 07

Confession Friday: I Have a Penguin Problem

Children's Fiction, Personal 15

I have a penguin problem. When I was in the 3rd grade, I made a penguin habitat out of a shoebox and a white mold-a-rama penguin from the Brookfield Zoo. Ever since then I’ve been a crazy penguin lady. Penguin jewelry, penguin trinkets, penguin teapots, an entire drawer full of penguin pajamas…

Halloween 2006. Yes. I’m a “grown up.”

The Penguin Tree. It is GLORIOUS.

This is my wedding cake, complete with penguin topper. That’s COMMITMENT right there.

It should come as no surprise that I count Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater among my favorite books. I do NOT approve of the blasphemy that was the recent Jim Carrey debacle of a movie. Okay, I guess I can’t really DISAPPROVE of penguins being adorable in a movie, but as an adaptation of a book, it was abominable.

I first read Mr. Popper’s Penguins when I was… I don’t really remember. Somewhere between 9 and 11 I’m guessing. We’ll say 10. Obviously, I loved it. I’ve since read it a few more times over the years and it never ceases to amuse me. When I was a kid, I loved the idea of turning my house into a giant skating rink for penguins to play around in. Who wouldn’t love to have a house full of penguins?! (This was before I thought about the grossness of bird poop in one’s dwelling…) Penguins doing circus tricks and forming a travelling show? I would have spent my allowance on that ticket!

It’s award-winning, y’all!

When I read this as an adult, I am not immune to its whimsy, but there are a few things that make me giggle. The bit that stands out to me the most though is Mrs. Popper. This book was written in 1938, so you’d expect the mother figure in a children’s story to be a homemaker. Poor Mrs. Popper, all she ever does is complain about what a mess Mr. Popper (a house painter by trade) makes in the house. It takes some SERIOUS penguin charm to get her to be on board with a pack of antarctic birds hanging out in her house. In the winter. With the windows wide open.

The Mrs. Popper moment that is (probably unintentionally) hilarious to me is at the end. The Poppers realize that it isn’t a good idea to keep a flock of penguins living in their home, so they agree to send them off to pioneer a new penguin colony at the North Pole. (Because if you didn’t know, penguins are a South Pole thing. And they hang out on some islands too. But they most certainly do not live at the North Pole naturally. Which is why I sometimes get annoyed at holiday items that show penguins and polar bears together, because that just doesn’t happen in nature. Of course, then I remember that penguins don’t really wear hats and scarves either, but that doesn’t make it any less adorable, and I get over it. Also, polar bears are ruthless savages that would EAT penguins, which is not a good thing.)

Anyway, at the end of the book, Mr. Popper is devastated that he’s got to let his beloved penguins go… Until the arctic expedition captain pipes up and offers Mr. Popper the opportunity to hop aboard the ship and join the penguin pilgrimage. Wait- this is where it gets funny. Mr. Popper turns to Mrs. Popper and his children and goes, “Hey are you guys cool if I’m not home for supper… or at all… for the next year or two?” And his kids are all like “Yeah that’s cool, take care of the penguins.”

But Mrs. Popper’s reaction is priceless. Mrs. Popper says something to the effect of “I’ll miss you, but it’ll be really nice to not have to clean up after your messy self for the next two years. I think we’ve got enough in the bank. Later!” Sigh. Whimsy goes with everything.

So bookworms, do any of you have silly animal obsessions or oddball collections? (If anyone says “jars of urine,” I’m seriously going to rethink this question segment…)

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