Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Busy, but good

Our life is officially in whirlwind mode! I feel like we're juggling 600 balls, between the house, dr's appts, baby planning, dogs, travel, work, etc. But it's fine, because it's all hopeful, exciting stuff.

The house was listed on Saturday, and since then we've had people coming by and calling about it. We're having an open house this Sunday. Let's hope for some good offers!

Our first childbirth class was last night. We're taking it with Penny Simkin, a woman who has been on the frontlines of midwifery and women's health for decades. She's wonderful, and the class and everything we talked about made me even more excited about this time in our lives.

I'm playing with the idea of switching to a different midwife practice b/c there's another one I consistently hear great things about. Not that there's anything wrong with where we are now, I just want to have the best experience possible. We'll see. And hey, what's one more thing on the to-do list!

Skeena continues to be the best little puppy we've ever seen. She is so good, so easy, so happy and confident. And she and Queets are best buds these days. The game usually morphs into Queets chewing on the toy/bone and Skeena jumping on and barking at him. On Friday she gets her stitches out from getting spayed. That hasn't slowed her down one bit. The day after the surgery she was barreling around the house.

I can't believe that next week John and I leave for vacation. We're heading to the North Umpqua River in Oregon. We'll be gone for about a week - will be so great to get away, swim in the river, hike the trails and explore cool waterfalls. John is excited to take Skeena fishing for the first time. We're staying at a great inn on the river - John has gotten to be friends with the owners through work. No cell or email service!

This summer is flying by, as always. Amazing that July 30 will be our 5-year wedding anniversary!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Best kids' books

Just saw this list in the NY Times. Pasting it here so I remember the titles - need to start building August's library!

To this list I would add "Where the Red Fern Grows" and "My Side of the Mountain". Oh, and Where the Sidewalk Ends. Lots of comments on the story too, with other suggestions.

July 5, 2009
Op-Ed Columnist
The Best Kids’ Books Ever

So how will your kids spend this summer? Building sand castles at the beach? Swimming at summer camp? Shedding I.Q. points?

In educating myself this spring about education, I was aghast to learn that American children drop in I.Q. each summer vacation — because they aren’t in school or exercising their brains.

This is less true of middle-class students whose parents drag them off to summer classes or make them read books. But poor kids fall two months behind in reading level each summer break, and that accounts for much of the difference in learning trajectory between rich and poor students.

A mountain of research points to a central lesson: Pry your kids away from the keyboard and the television this summer, and get them reading. Let me help by offering my list of the Best Children’s Books — Ever!

So here they are, in ascending order of difficulty, and I can vouch that these are also great to read aloud.

1. “Charlotte’s Web.” The story of the spider who saves her friend, the pig, is the kindest representation of an arthropod in literary history.

2. The Hardy Boys series. Yes, I hear the snickers. But I devoured them myself and have known so many kids for whom these were the books that got them excited about reading. The first in the series is weak, but “House on the Cliff” is a good opener. (As for Nancy Drew, I yawned over her, but she seems to turn girls into Supreme Court justices. Among her fans as kids were Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.)

3. “Wind in the Willows.” My mother read this 101-year-old English classic to me, and I’m still in love with the characters. Most memorable of all is Toad — rich, vain, childish and prone to wrecking cars.

4. The Freddy the Pig series. Published between 1927 and 1958, these 26 books are funny, beautifully written gems. They concern a talking pig, Freddy, who is lazy, messy and sometimes fearful, yet a loyal friend, a first-rate detective and an impressive poet. These were my very favorite books when I was in elementary school. A good one to start with is “Freddy the Detective” or “Freddy Plays Football.” (Avoid the first and weakest, “Freddy Goes to Florida.”)

5. The Alex Rider series. These are modern British spy thrillers in which things keep exploding in a very satisfying way. Alex amounts to a teenage James Bond for the 21st century.

6. The Harry Potter series. Look, the chance to read these books aloud is by itself a great reason to have kids.

7. “Gentle Ben.” The coming-of-age story of a sickly, introspective Alaskan boy who makes friends with an Alaskan brown bear, to the horror of his tough, domineering father.

8. “Anne of Green Gables.” At a time when young ladies were supposed to be demure and decorative, Anne emerged to become one of the strongest and most memorable girls in literature.

9. “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be.” This is a hilarious, poignant and exceptionally well-written memoir of childhood on the Canadian prairies. (Note, if you prefer sweet to funny, try “Rascal” instead.)

10. “Little Lord Fauntleroy.” This classic spawned the Fauntleroy suit and named a duck (Donald Duck’s middle name is Fauntleroy). An American boy from a struggling family turns out to be heir to an irritable and fabulously wealthy old English lord, whom the boy proceeds to tame and civilize.

11. “On to Oregon.” This outdoor saga, written almost 90 years ago, is loosely based on the true story of the Sager family journeying by covered wagon in 1848, in the early days of the Oregon Trail. The parents die on route, and the seven children — the youngest just an infant — continue on their own. They are led by 13-year-old John: spoiled, surly, often mean, yet determined and even heroic in keeping his siblings alive.

12. “The Prince and the Pauper.” Most kids encounter Mark Twain through “Tom Sawyer,” but this work is at least as funny and offers unforgettable images of English history.

13. “Lad, a Dog” is simply the best book ever about a pet, a collie. This is to “Lassie” what Shakespeare is to CliffsNotes. The book was published 90 years ago, and readers are still visiting Lad’s real grave in New Jersey — plus, this is a book so full of SAT words it could put Stanley Kaplan out of business.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

July 3 pics

Had a fun 4th of July weekend here at home. Here are some belly pics from July 3, before John and I went out to see The Hangover - hilarious movie!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Move over, Sir Edmund Hillary

Bobby and Sara have returned from their Mount Rainier climb! Bob gave me the run down on the phone the other night. Sounds pretty intense! Got within 20 mins of the summit and had to turn back b/c of weather.

The funniest part was, on the climb down, almost done, who passes them on the trail? - Justin Timberlake! Even funnier was that everybody was too exhausted to even bat an eye.