Just finished reading (with Max)

Big Little by Leslie Patricelli

We love this book. I have now added everything she has ever written to Max’s wishlist on Amazon. Because I am obsessive-compulsive and addictive like that.

Max the genius

I asked Max at naptime what book he wanted to read for “night-night”. He not only handed me a book, it was his Sesame Street “Nighty-Night” book! He’s only thirteen months old! He’s a genius.

Bookworm and son

Most parents imagine all of the clothes and toys they will buy for their child. At least, I think that’s the case. I’m a little weird in the respect that I dreamed, not of those things, but of sharing books with my son. I am sure there probably are other weird parents out there who dreamed of sharing their favorite books with their child and discovering new ones to love. However, I think that is almost exclusively what I thought about. The only other thing that came close was my desire to share my love of music. But that’s another post.

In fact, for the first several months after he was born, books were all I bought for him, aside from the necessities, such as diapers. I was just very anxious to ensure he started out with a good book collection, a good shot at being a reader. Others had bought him plenty of clothes and toys, so I decided it was going to be up to me to fill the bookshelf.

Towards that end, I decided to start a tradition of buying a new book for him on his birthday every month. I have not decided yet how long I will continue this tradition, but right now, it will be until his first birthday at least. I have cheated a few months and bought two (In fact, I bought three for his ten-month birthday last week.), but overall, it has been a good, fairly inexpensive way to regularly add to his bookshelf. Plus, I get positively giddy when I order new books for him from Amazon and envision reading them to him for the first time. So, it’s a little something for me to look forward to every month. And who doesn’t need that?

That is part of the reason I have shared on this site when I read a new book with him. I have fallen woefully behind during the whole moving process these past few months, but I am going to try and share a few titles right now, rather than try and write a separate entry for each, as usual, and fall further behind. I hope any of you parents trying to raise readers might get some inspiration (and send some my way, if you like) and that Max might someday enjoy knowing the books we shared together and when.

Harold and the Purple Crayon 50th Anniversary Edition (Purple Crayon Books)

The New Adventures of Curious George

A Treasury of Curious George

Olivia (Classic Board Books)


Max Counts His Chickens (Max and Ruby)

(This last one was a present for his first Easter. An impulse buy at the register at HEB that worked out really well.)

Just Finished Reading (with Max)

How to Behave and Why

I saw this book on a rerun of “7th Heaven” and had to check it out. Its advice still holds for the most part and it isn’t as preachy as I expected. It is very matter-of-fact and does not talk down to its audience. It will be interesting to see if Max still wants to hear it when he gets a little older.

Just finished reading (with Max)

The Runaway Bunny

I really liked this. It was very sweet, except for when the grad student in me started wondering why the bunny kept trying to get away from his mother and thought that the mother could be perceived as stalkerish instead of devoted. It’s best not to delve too deeply into some of these things, eh? Overall, another very sweet tale from the author of “Good night, Moon” and “The Big, Red Barn”.

Just finished reading

by Maud Hart Lovelace

I have been hearing about the Betsy-Tacy books for about a year now. They were reprinted last fall, which accounts for some of the renewed buzz. Some of my favorite authors, including Meg Cabot, recommended them, which surprised me, since she skewered the “Anne” books in one of her “Princess Diaries” books and “Anne” and “Betsy-Tacy” seem quite similar. (I forgave her, though.) I am definitely glad I decided to check them out. They are so sweet and innocent, yet hilarious at the same time.

First book of the year

I’ve already read an entire book and we’re just over a week in to the new year! And I have a five-month-old! Yes, it was a children’s book, but it’s over 200 pages long, so it still counts and … wait. Why am I defending myself? A book’s a book!

The New Girl (Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls)

Meg Cabot is one of my favorite authors. She is the Judy Blume of the early 21st century due to the sheer number of age groups for and genres in which she writes. She writes for kids, young adults, and adults. She writes mysteries, supernatural thrillers, chick lit, period romances, and teen romances. She is best known for “The Princess Diaries” series (PLEASE, do not judge them by the movies, especially the atrocious sequel. The books are sharp, funny, snarky, and just completely un-Disney. And I say that as a fan of Disney.) and I highly recommend those along with the “Mediator” series. Her new series for kids “Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls” is a riot. Allie is an animal-loving fourth-grader who wants to be a veterinarian. In the first installment, her family moves to a Victorian house and she learns she will have to switch schools. In the second, she starts at her new school and immediately incurs the wrath of a female bully. The basic premise underlying the series is that Allie writes down “rules” she observes about life in a notebook, thinking that slavishly following these rules, such as “never eat anything red”, will make life easier. It doesn’t.

The supporting characters, especially little brother Kevin who likes everything “fancy”, are funny and quirky. The book has a heartwarming ending, but avoids sappiness. (Although I enjoy a little sappiness at times, so maybe I’m not a good judge.) The only jarring element was the language used by Allie and her friends. I’m not sure most fourth-graders would use such advanced vocabulary. However, if this encourages kids to improve their vocabularies, as many of my childhood favorites did for me, then that’s a pro in my book.

In my Mommy bubble

That’s the only explanation I can come up with for the fact that I did not know there are at least three new Meg Cabot books on the shelves. Shameful.

Mommy’s Night Out

This past Wednesday night, Chris convinced me to take a night off and go to the movies. Actually, he did everything but force my arms in to my coat, throw my purse at me, and shove me out the door. For some reason, I resisted committing to going out that night, despite the fact that he had been attempting to convince me I needed a break since the previous Monday.

Max has been fussy this week, probably due to the traveling and general hullabaloo which is Christmas. It may be the “most wonderful time of the year” to Johnny Mathis and many others. Kids may think they like it. But honestly, it seems to stress them out more than anything else. I really thought my niece Cailyn was going to explode. Secretly, she wanted to explode, because at least then the wrapping paper might be blown off the presents that had been sitting under the tree and TORTURING her with their mysteriousness for weeks. Or maybe it was days. I’m not sure how long my mom had them under there.

Anyway, Chris was right about me needing a break, but Max was once again fussing when he got home and I felt like I couldn’t possibly leave the baby with his father when he was fussing! Who ever heard of such a thing? Leaving him with his other parent? The “not-the-momma”? I would probably be stripped of the title of Momma if I did such a thing.

He finally got me out the door and I arrived at the Alamo Lake Creek, thinking it would be easy to get in to the movie of my choice with two minutes to showtime, since it was a Wednesday. Wrong. EVERY MOVIE I WANTED TO SEE WAS SOLD OUT. And that list constituted almost all of the movies the theater was showing. I couldn’t wait for a later show, because I didn’t want to stay out that late. After asking the ticket person for verification that, indeed, most of the movies were sold out (Prompting her to remind everyone to look at the screen before approaching the ticket window. Hello, everyone in line was ignoring that warning, because the screen was flashing too fast, which was why they kept asking and annoying her.), I found out that the 7:30 showing of Did You Hear About the Morgans? was still available. I was feeling kind of lukewarm about that one, so I stepped out of line to think and call my husband. The only spot I could find to call Chris where I wasn’t assaulted by secondhand smoke was in the corner by the front door where loud Nirvana music was blaring.

Me: Honey,  you’re not going to believe this. ALL of the movies are sold out. (Not true, but more dramatic.)

Chris: What? What are you going to do? (He then proceeds to list many suitable alternatives to each of which I respond with a wan and self-pitying “Maybe. I don’t know.”)

We hang up after I have made him feel suitably guilty for doing absolutely nothing but try to give me an evening off. I start back to my car through the cloud of secondhand smoke and stop about halfway there. Should I go to the 7:30? I would actually have time to order food before the movie starts, with the lights on, and maybe jot down some blog ideas while I waited for the movie to start. I decided no, that I didn’t want to wait forty-five minutes for the movie to start and I DEFINITELY couldn’t wait fifteen minutes for the movie to start seating and then wait to have my order taken and then wait even longer for food. My crazy breast-feeding momma appetite would not allow that.

I got back to my car, waaaaay at the back of the parking lot (Did I mention that it was below 50 degrees outside, which is the equivalent of an Arctic freeze to me, since I have never been north of Albuquerque during the winter and I spent most of the week I was there inside?), jotted down the blog ideas, and then had second thoughts. Maybe I should go. I didn’t want to go to a restaurant without a book to read or a person to talk to. I didn’t want to go to the bookstore, because I needed a decent dinner. I didn’t want to drive to another Alamo or other movie theater, because they were probably just as crowded. I decided that if I found a closer parking space, it was a sign I should go.

I didn’t find a closer space, but I went in anyway, screaming “satisficer” in my head the whole way. (One of my new mantras, thanks to Parenting magazine. It means to be happy with what you get, instead of making yourself crazy always trying to make everything perfect.) I had popcorn, an Italian soda (I wanted a margarita, since I have not had one since before I got pregnant, but I was driving home and the Alamo Lake Creek apparently makes their margaritas with wine or something crazy like that, since they have no liquor license.) , a “Diggler dog”, and fries. The food was awesome (Although the popcorn was way too salty.) and the movie was pleasant and entertaining. I don’t know why the reviews have been so bad. Then, I do like silly, sappy rom-coms. The sillier and sappier, the better.

Alas, I did not make my post-movie trip to the bookstore, since I went to a later movie. I was too anxious to see Max by the time I got out. That is saying something since I have not been to a bookstore since he was born. I am the bibliest of bibliophiles. I don’t just love to read books, I love the actual physical books themselves. The smells, the cover art and dust jackets for different editions, the little notes that previous owners wrote in them. My husband doesn’t have to worry about me buying expensive clothes, jewelry, or makeup. He has to worry about me getting on ebay and buying lots of obscure and/or expensive L. M. Montgomery books. (But, honey, it was the 50th impression of the 38th edition of Anne of Green Gables in Polish!! Come on!) Or at least, he would have to worry about it if I hadn’t banned myself from ebay after racking up a pretty nice collection (and the attendant credit card bills) in grad school. (It was for my work.)

Hopefully, the next Mommy’s Night Out will be about my trip to a bookstore. Or maybe I will go some afternoon and take Max with me. He has never been to a bookstore and it’s high time his education began.

My Year in Books 2009

Here is the list of books I managed to read cover to cover in 2009. I did not include the many magazines, blog entries, Internet articles, and assorted chapters from various books in which I also indulged. My numbers are way down this year due to the arrival of my precious Max, as evidenced by the fact that most of the books I did read are pregnancy and parenting books.

You will notice that I also enjoy chick lit, feline detective mysteries, adolescent lit, and anything by and/or about L.M. Montgomery. I heartily recommend all of the fiction books on this list to anyone with tastes in the same vein. (Really, I recommend them to anyone.) Of the pregnancy books, I loved Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful and Birthing from Within the most. I was surprised by the fact that the Lamaze Guide was amazingly helpful and inspiring. It encouraged me to take Lamaze classes, which was a mistake, since the classes were most definitely NOT helpful and inspiring. At least the ones we took weren’t. Stick with the book.

Some of you might be surprised to know that I did not find the classics What to Expect When You’re Expecting and the “Girlfriends’ Guides” that helpful. (What to Expect the First Year has some useful chapters at the beginning, but I stopped taking it off the shelf after Max’s one-month birthday.)  What to Expect When You’re Expecting was great at conveying basic info, but it tends to focus on what can go wrong. (I did love the monthly and weekly breakdown of the baby’s development. That’s pretty much all I used for most of my pregnancy.) The “Girlfriends’ Guides” are great for a laugh, but I just did not consider them a fount of useful info. During pregnancy, the main benefit of The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy was that nothing was as bad as I had feared it was going to be after I read that book. After Max was born, I reread and basically clung to The Girlfriends’ Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood. The humor and sympathy in Iovine’s writing got me through those first few weeks to a large extent.

If anyone has read or does read any of these books, I’d love to hear your take.

  1. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery (reread)
  2. Cat on the Edge: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
  3. The Girlfriends’ Guide to Baby Gear: What to buy, what to borrow, and what to blow off! by Vicki Iovine with Peg Rosen
  4. Forever Princess by Meg Cabot
  5. The Secrets of Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson
  6. The Girlfriends’ Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood by Vicki Iovine
  7. Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings by Mary Henley Rubio
  8. The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence by Judith Lothian and Charlotte DeVries
  9. What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
  10. The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot (reread)
  11. Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot (reread)
  12. The Girlfriends’ Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood by Vicki Iovine (reread)
  13. Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful: Experience the Natural Power of Pregnancy and Birth with Kundalini Yoga and Meditation by Gurmukh (reread)
  14. Birthing from Within by Pam England CNM, MA and Rob Horowitz PhD
  15. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
  16. The Cat Who Talked Turkey by Lilian Jackson Braun
  17. Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery (reread)
  18. The Cat Who Sang for the Birds by Lilian Jackson Braun

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