Sunday, July 31, 2011

Eight Ways My 16-Month-Old Is Like a Puppy

1. He whines outside the bathroom door while I pee.
2. He obeys simple commands. ("Jackson, please put the sock in the laundry basket.")
3. He likes to lick things.
4. Sometimes he pees on the floor.
5. Downward dog is his favorite yoga position.
6. He likes to chew on my toes.
7. He loves to go for walks and run in the park and chase balls.
8. He's loving and fluffy and cuddly and amazing.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Signing Time

WHERE WE'RE AT: The vid above shows some of the signs Jackson knows right now. I wanted to preserve this before they fall out of use completely as his speech improves. Most of these signs now come with accompanying words, with the exceptions of fish and chicken. I believe he knows a few others (baby, bike, train and slide came up today), but these are the ones I remembered to quiz him on this morning.

WHY WE'RE THERE: I'm learning sign language as fast as I can, but half the time I only think to learn the sign for something after Jackson has started verbalizing a word approximation. Sigh. Still, I'm really loving baby sign language, and as I posted earlier this month, one of my few baby-related regrets is that I haven't been studying ASL all along.

I like that it's a multisensory approach to communication--I think the information may be getting into brain through multiple channels, which has to be good right? My instinct is that using signs as well as words gives me a second set of tools to use in defining the little guy's world. For example, whenever the kid hears a diesel engine or air brakes or that backup beeping noise, he shouts "Truck!" (Or at least something that sounds like tuck/duck/turducken/etc.) I tried for a while explaning, that's a bus-truck, that's a van-truck, that's a construction-truck, but I just kept hearing "Turducken!"

So I've been signing truck when it's actually a truck, and saying, "Yes, that's a FedEx truck. That truck is the color white." But when it's a bus, I sign a old-fashioned version of bus (because I don't love the newfangled fingerspelled sign) and then I say, "Yes, that truck is a bus (sign bus). That bus is the color orange." And I think the information gets in there, better than it does when I just say, "No, that's a bus." I don't want to deny that it's a truck, because it kind of is, I just want to provide more information about the subtype of truck that he's dealing with. On a related note, I sign chicken when we encounter either roosters, hens or baby chicks in our reading, in hopes of conveying that even though the specific words and pictures may look and sound different, they all refer to variations on the same concept. (There is a separate sign for rooster but we'll get there when we get there.)

Another advantage of sign language is quite simply that it's not spoken. Sixteen-month-old toddlers don't talk so good under the best of circumstances, and it's great to have a alternate means of communication. Today, for example, at the loud restaurant at the zoo Jackson was clearly trying to tell me something, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what he was saying. Finally I told him to sign and when he did I saw clearly that he wanted to go the potty. Voila!

Finally, I like "sportscasting" about our world for Jackson in sign language the same way I enjoy narrating it in spoken English, just because it's kind of fun for me. Jackson doesn't need to know the word coffee (in English or in ASL), but every morning I say and sign that, "The teakettle is loud because mama's making her hot coffee." There doesn't need to be a sign for coffee in there, but that sign is fun for me to do and fun for him to see, and I think it adds to the texture of our communication.

WHERE TO NEXT: I've been experimenting with showing Jackson the Baby Signing Time and Signing Time! series on TV each day before lunch. It's Jackson's only major source of TV short of watching The McLaughlin Group and Meet the Press with daddy, and so far he vacillates between getting excited to signs he already knows and cherishes (like baby) and not caring one whit what's on the screen.

I've been collecting the Signing Time! episodes via our TiVo (they air once a week at the crack of dawn on one of our local PBS stations), and I think I'm going to watch one each ep with him every day for a week and see if there's any visible sign acquisition or comprehension. And even if there's not, either I'll learn some signs and have new earworms to hum, or I'll at least get half an hour a day when he's maybe not climbing physically on top of my head. :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Henceforth, all posts about my obsessive children's book collecting will live at my new blog, Post-Apocalyptic Homeschool. You're welcome.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Visit to Westchester

After living in this neighborhood for five years, I finally went to the giant Westchester Recreation Center today. (Kids change everything.) We hit the farmer's market and then visited the newly built Westchester-Loyola Village library. The library is gorgeous and brand-spanking new, and the Westchester Park is a park out of another era--an era before California cities were all broke. (Cynical?) There's a public pool, tennis courts, playgrounds, a senior center, tons of playing fields for various sports and even an adjacent 18-hole golf course. We are lucky to have a community pool here in Culver City (the Plunge, built in 1945!), but the styling of the Westchester Pool (built in 1960) is incredibly fetching, and they're renovating it right now. A lot of the park is styled in what I call "mid-century parkitecture" which isn't sexy, but in my old age, I appreciate the enthusiasms of another age. (Does that make sense?) We just saw a fragment of this park, but we'll be going back in the future to explore further, and maybe to hit the annual Easter Egg Hunt and Halloween Haunted House.

Jackson grubs for berries at one of the farmer's market stalls!

Jackson noshes on a sample orange slice. He gnawed through most of the peel before he let me take it away. Observe the new haircut! The sides are totally uneven, and that's probably gonna drive my slightly very OCD mom bezerk, but I did the best I could and I think he still looks damn cute, if I do say so myself.

I've spend a lot of time wondering if the hole through this poor decrepit sign was from a brick or a bullet hole.

Big tree, small boy. This is the Westchester Municipal Building, a giant fig tree and the landscaped area in front of the shiny new library. The landscaping was in terrible shape--weeds everywhere. Poor L.A. City budget doesn't have a library landscaping line item. I hereby vow that from now on whenever I visit a weedy library I will personally yank a few of those weeds out by the roots, just to do my part. The library itself was a beautiful welcoming space (and they have a charity bookstore!), and we found some great books on dogs, trucks, ducks and baby sign language. Photos of that next time I promise. Anyway, it was a good day!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Husband & Baby

Get the flash player here:
Child is talking up a storm! He's suddenly capable of mimicry, so everything I say becomes fodder for conversation. I heard a lot of down and out (ha!) today as we made our way through a couple of stores today with Jackson in the stroller. He's also saying book and back over and over again (and trying to figure out the meaning of back, which seems to have so many definitions!)

The poor kiddo spit up in the car today for the first time in...ever. He's hardly ever thrown up, even when he was little, so I think his tummy really didn't get along with either peach-flavored YoBaby yogurt, or the combo of YoBaby and his regular milk. (His cousin's mom left a snack pack of YoBaby yogurt at our house so we've been using them up the past couple of days.) Long story short, it got all over his car seat, so I now have the undesirable and intimidating task of deconstructing a Britax seat, washing the cover, scrub down the seat belts and then, somehow, putting it all back together correctly and safely. Pray for me.

Today was the first time I've been shopping all week, so of course we hit the used bookstore. We also went to the Borders going-out-of-business sale. Man, Borders has been my store since...high school? I'm really sad to see it go. Anyway, I wanted to snag some slightly-discounted basic Kumon workbooks that I know we'll be using next year. I'll go back in about a month when the real discounts kick in and if there are any of the higher-level Kumon workbooks still available, I may stock up. I am a Kumon fangirl! Anyway, here are today's gleanings from Goodwill:

(1) The Jar of Fools: Eight Hannukah Stories from Chelm, (2) All About Corduroy, (3) Kindergarten Brain Quest, (4) Where Is Baby's Pumpkin?, (5) Colors & Shapes: Lift-a-Flap Fun, plus (6) the Disney Magna Doodle pictured above and (7) the card puzzle set pictured above.

(1) We already have a fools of Chelm book, and a couple volumes of Hannukah storybooks, but if some is good, more must be better. Right? OK not necessarily, but I do like being able to add anything to our library that can inform J about his Jewish heritage.

(2) The like-new condition All About Corduroy combines the original Corduroy story by Don Freeman with the sequel A Pocket for Corduroy. We already owned both in mismatched formats, but I like this larger edition better than what we have now, plus the single volume seems tidier!

(3) I've never actually gotten to look at these Brain Quest cards before, but after seeing these I came away with a generally good impression of the brand. For one thing, this is well-engineered in that the cards are hinged together so you don't have to play 52-card pickup all the time, and for another, I enjoyed the content. The questions at this level consist of lots of analogies and find-the-difference puzzles, as well as vocabulary quizzes. It's basically a kind of critical thinking Trivial Pursuit. This set is years ahead of where Jackson is, so this was sort of an exploratory purchase, but I might well use these in some capacity (probably as travel entertainment) when we get in the vicinity of kindergarten.

(4) I don't love Karen Katz books (among other things her octopi have nine legs!), but Jackson likes lifting the flap so into the Halloween box this goes!

(5) Colors. Shapes. Flaps. Sold!

(6) I just read someone's suggestion about having a Magna Doodle on hand so you can write with toddlers without your house getting covered in baby graffiti (since the little ones can't reliably wield pens). A new Magna Doodle seemed to be too expensive at Amazon, but lo and behold, I found a Disney Channel book that had the above Magna Doodle attached at the top. The original purpose of the book was to teach drawing and it was just not my speed (not least because I'm trying to minimize the marketing power of the mighty Mouse on my kid), but I used an X-acto knife to cut off the book, and voila. (The personalization pictured above was a surprise from daddy!)

(7) This Early Learning Puzzle kit made by Spice Box in Canada was an unexpected surprise. It's in very good condition, which may mean it's a total dud and never got played with, but I'm optimistic. There are 78 two-piece puzzles split into three sets: alphabet, opposites and numbers. I particularly like that the number cards demonstrate what I recently learned are called number bonds for the numbers up to 10. For example, the four 9 puzzles show the possible ways to combine other whole numbers to get 9 are 8+1, 7+2, 6+3 and 5+4. I'm hopeful that this will be a fun activity once Jackson's fine motor control gets a little stronger.

And now I'm gonna go back to sleep. I've been up the past couple of hours with kiddo, who wants a bottle or a baboon or some combination thereof.

Sometime in the last day (week? month?) Jackson irrevocably metamorphosed from being a very hungry baby to being a beautiful toddler. He's still very hungry though.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Loot! Latest Children's Books from the Used Bookstore

The one on top is the Marie Curie volume of the ValueTales series. They had the whole set at a day camp I attended in junior high and I just loved these books. I've always been proud to know who Ralph Bunche is because of The Value of Responsibility. The other two are Dr. Seuss, but not the basic readers were familiar with--these are longer and I think intended for older children. The King's Stilts was originally published in 1939!

Board books: Sandra Boynton's Horns to Toes, which I believe is her "guide to baby's body parts" book; Daddy Cuddles, which I had to get because of the message of fatherly love and the adorable illustrations; Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree (wherein the little monkeys stupidly tease a crocodile), which is a followup to the same author's Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, a book that I have really enjoy reading/singing to the kiddo; Eric Carle's My Very First Book of Numbers, which has a fairly confounding split-page design, but heck, since I already found My Very First Book of Animal Homes at another bookstore, I just had to add to the set, since I'm OCD that way; and last but not least, a 1960s printing of Howard Pyle's King Arthur retelling, which is improbably illustrated by one  Sergio Leone. I can't imagine it's the Sergio Leone, but just the thought made me giggle.

Two paperbacks for older kids are Lois Ehlert's Planting a Rainbow, which is a pretty fun approach to teaching kiddos colors (I do love gardens), and Baseball Saved Us, which is the story of a young Japanese-American boy's experience in the internment camps during World War II. Our neighborhood is fairly heavily Japanese-American (as was the neighborhood I grew up in; apparently one-third of my high school's graduating class of 1942 wasn't there to graduate because they'd been deported to the camps) and while I don't usually like to mix my kidlit with my political indoctrination, this is a story I'd like him to encounter. Plus, it made me cry, so I hope it stands alone as a worthwhile story.

Hope you had as beautiful a July weekend as we did, filled with friends, family, bicycles, long days, water play and good food.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Three Regrets So Far

By and large this baby thing has gone pretty well so far, but if I had to do it all over again, there are at least three things I would change:

  •  Why in heaven's name did I get the useless Medela Swing pump? It's a Discman-size pump that does one boob at a time, requires both hands and has no suction? I totally screwed up my supply and wasted tons of time on that thing. I wish I'd invested in the big Medela Pump In Style (and the hands-free pumping bra) before the baby was born (and started pumping colostrum at 40 weeks pregnant), instead of waiting until I went back to work. Total error in judgment, all to save money (and because I was clueless).
  • I knew perfectly well that push walkers are the thing to help an almost walking baby get going, and I browsed the Haba walker and the Radio Flyer walker on Amazon a million times, but never bought because it seemed too pricey. Kept thinking I would find one on CraigsList or something but never got around to it. Months pass. The baby seemed to be in full pre-walking mode by 10 or 11 months, but by 14 months we're still waiting on first steps. convinces me to get the Fisher-Price Bright Beginnings Activity Walker. He takes off immediately after refusing to bear weight on his feet for months and is walking in four weeks. Argh!
  • Last but not least, I wish I'd been studying baby sign language this whole time. I did some basic signs (more, all done, change, diaper, food, milk) all along because that's what Mommy & Me told me to do, but man, I wish I'd been studying and using other signs all along. It is so amazing to see your kid identify something he can't verbalize yet by using a sign. You suddenly realize what he's seeing and thinking in there, even though he's not using spoken language yet. For example, when the kiddo sees steam, he signs "hot," and I just think that's awesome. Anyway, I'm currently on this remedial tear where I'm desperate to learn all the animal names (and a bunch of other nouns) so I can use them when talking to Jackson, and I wish I'd used the early days of his babyhood to learn more dang signs!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What a weird day. Got the worst possible news about family friends, and am still grappling with what it means and what to do next. I'm shaken, to say the least.

On the other hand, had a lovely playdate with Jackson's cousin. They're pretty far apart in age, but they got along really well, and they decided, in their own four-year-old and one-year-old way, that they were going to be brother-cousins. They even hugged each other without any prompting from the adults. It was a truly sweet, unorchestrated moment.

And while we're doing photos, here's a pic of Jackson with A and E, who took such wonderful care of him every day for the past 11 months. Note the sadface baby because he knew that something was afoot (Friday was his last day with them) and he adores them as much as we do. Looking forward to meeting their second baby, due this week!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Personal Contact Info for Jennifer Godwin Arrow

In case you're looking for me in the post-E! era of my life for personal business, here are some ways to reach me. If you send me a pitch about your new jewelry line through one of these means, I will do bad things to you. And not the fun kind of bad things. XOXO. :)

AIM - IMjengod
Email - jengod at gmail dot com
Google Voice - (310) 910-1897
Skype - jennifer.arrow

E! Online: Jennifer Arrow, Jennifer Godwin, Kristin Dos Santos and Jennifer ArrowTeam WWK

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Words

Jackson is now definitely saying door (he loves closing doors, it's so cute) and bug.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hang on to your toddlers...

So, Jackson could have drowned this weekend.

Long story short, we were trying to entice him to practice his long-distance walking, and walk he did--right into a pond.

Long story long, we biked over to the new fancy park at Playa Vista (Jackson rode in his swanky bike trailer), and then began to walk along the path from the bike racks to the playground. Jackson was dawdling, so we decided maybe instead of wheedling and waiting for him to come along, we should just start moving and he'd be inspired to catch.

Of course--and we didn't think about it at the time or we would never have been so dumb--we were right between two decorative ponds. Andrew was in the lead, way ahead of us, but he noticed the danger first: "Hey, he's getting to close to the water." I was closer to the kid, but at the very moment I stepped forward to intervene, the little guy stepped on to the slippery grass along the downsloping embankment, tumbled forward and was instantly submerged in the pond.

I pray that you never have to see your little one underwater, swallowing water and struggling for air and trying to find "up" and panicked and confused about what is happening to him.

I jumped in and snatched him out. Andrew says I grabbed Jackson by his feet, and that sounds about right--I wasn't trying for style points. (The whole process from Jackson stepping forward to me plucking him out was probably no more than 10 seconds, but thanks to adrenaline, I was hyperaware of everything that happened during that 10 seconds--and I'll remember it all forever.)

Anyway, after we got him out, he spluttered for a while--he definitely swallowed plenty of water, god help us--but he was no worse for wear, and he didn't even cry, being the incredibly good-natured boy that he is. He just seemed to enjoy all the attention from mommy and daddy. His daddy teased him, asking if he ate any fishies while he was down there; Jackson didn't think he had.

It was so hot that even though we were soaked from our pond misadventure, we went to the playground anyway, and had a pretty nice time playing on the weird futuristic equipment at the playground and letting the sun dry our wet hair and clothes.

And then we realized that when your toddler is submerged in a body of water, those diapers that are so brilliantly engineered to absorb fluid, do just that. Jackson was pretty much wearing a bag of pond water, so we finally came to our senses and took him home.

Long story short, this weekend our lives flashed before our eyes. Lessons: Stay close to the baby! No more of this tough love "C'mon on, walk, kid!" business. Also, ponds surrounded by grassy slopes and no gates are pretty much designed to capture toddlers. We won't be visiting that playground at the Playa Vista office park again anytime soon. I'm scared to death that we wouldn't do any better the second time than the first, and it's not worth the risk.

Except for the Drama, we had a great weekend. We had a blast at the park on Friday afternoon (portrait above is from that outing), on Saturday Daddy found a yellow dragonfly in the living room that we put in makeshift bug house and studied before releasing it back into the world, we went to a wonderful backyard brunch/baby shower with the rest of the Mommy & Me gang, and heck, even the bike ride to and from the Near-Drowning Drama was wonderful, thanks to the amazing weather. Jeesh.

Oh, and then Mommy (that's me) found a water/sand table at Big Lots for $13. Daddy set it up, and Jackson thought it was incredible fun.

Right now the baby is sleeping soundly in his bed and all is right with the world.

Be safe out there, folks.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

News from the Homefront

Jackson has mastered another sound. If you ask him what a lion says, you'll hear the gentlest "rawr" that ever was rawred.

We've also discovered two new fabulous games. You know "quarters" where you just slide quarters back and forth across the table at a diner? Jackson and I play that with a plastic giraffe. He thinks it's hilarious when the giraffe slides across the table and drops into the tray of his booster seat. And then we found the inner cardboard circle from a retired roll of duct tape and this toy has received the Jackson Seal of Approval. Hours of entertainment. Better than pulling forks out of the dishwasher!

Took him to work today to show off his cuteness in the waning days of "working mom" era, and he was shy and/or grumpy at first, but then had a nice refreshing poop (what?), and felt much better. Once he was back to his usual cheerful self, he heartily enjoyed the opportunity to remove every single thing from one of my desk drawers, learn how bubble wrap works from my bemused coworkers, and do high fives with everybody.

He's also now a master of his backyard slide! For a while he couldn't quite grok the blue stair side--he'd just turn around at the bottom of the orange slide side and try to clamber back up--but he's figured out the up-down loop now and he loves it!

I'll try to take/post more pictures soon!

Thrift-Store Treasures

Puzzles! For $1.99 each, I got trucks, wild animals, pets and what I believe is a magnetic "fishing" game. The magnet on the purple guy was missing so I took him to the fish hospital and I'm hoping a thumbtack and some superglue do the trick. And then I just need to figure out how to make a magnet "fishing pole." Kiddo can't really do puzzles yet, but for now he thoroughly enjoys picking out the dog and the "juh-waff."

This 10 Button Book by William Accorsi is so fun! There are 10 buttons attached to the book by ribbons, and there are holes for the appropriate number of buttons on each page. Such a great way to make numbers and counting tactile and fun for the kiddos!

Last but not least, and speaking of treasures from the used bookstore, I found this copy of Treasure Island with illustrations by Milo Winter. Both the book and the illustrations are in the public domain, so it's just a cheap contemporary reprint, but I'm a sucker for vintage illustrations in general, and in specific Milo Winter's version of Aesop's Fables gets recommended fairly often on the Hive Mind forums, so I snapped this up. We're quite a few years away from Treasure Island being suitable reading material for the kiddo, but what the hell, I have a huge garage with plenty of room for storing my treasure hoard of books.


Saturday, July 02, 2011

This scene from Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boys, by Louisa May Alcott, has stuck with me for my entire life:
Great was the excitement all the week about the repairs in the carriage-house, which went briskly on in spite of the incessant questions, advice, and meddling of the boys. Old Gibbs was nearly driven wild with it all, but managed to do his work nevertheless; and by Friday night the place was all in order roof mended, shelves up, walls whitewashed, a great window cut at the back, which let in a flood of sunshine, and gave them a fine view of the brook, the meadows, and the distant hills; and over the great door, painted in red letters, was "The Laurence Museum."
All Saturday morning the boys were planning how it should be furnished with their spoils, and when Mr. Laurie arrived, bringing an aquarium which Mrs. Amy said she was tired of, their rapture was great.
The afternoon was spent in arranging things, and when the running and lugging and hammering was over, the ladies were invited to behold the institution.
It certainly was a pleasant place, airy, clean, and bright. A hop-vine shook its green bells round the open window, the pretty aquarium stood in the middle of the room, with some delicate water plants rising above the water, and gold-fish showing their brightness as they floated to and fro below. On either side of the window were rows of shelves ready to receive the curiosities yet to be found. Dan's tall cabinet stood before the great door which was fastened up, while the small door was to be used. On the cabinet stood a queer Indian idol, very ugly, but very interesting; old Mr. Laurence sent it, as well as a fine Chinese junk in full sail, which had a conspicuous place on the long table in the middle of the room. Above, swinging in a loop, and looking as if she was alive, hung Polly, who died at an advanced age, had been carefully stuffed, and was no presented by Mrs. Jo. The walls were decorated with all sorts of things. A snake's skin, a big wasp's nest, a birch-bark canoe, a string of birds' eggs, wreaths of gray moss from the South, and a bunch of cotton-pods. The dead bats had a place, also a large turtle-shell, and an ostrich-egg proudly presented by Demi, who volunteered to explain these rare curiosities to guests whenever they liked. There were so many stones that it was impossible to accept them all, so only a few of the best were arranged among the shells on the shelves, the rest were piled up in corners, to be examined by Dan at his leisure.
Every one was eager to give something, even Silas, who sent home for a stuffed wild-cat killed in his youth. It was rather moth-eaten and shabby, but on a high bracket and best side foremost the effect was fine, for the yellow glass eyes glared, and the mouth snarled so naturally, that Teddy shook in his little shoes at sight of it, when he came bringing his most cherished treasure, one cocoon, to lay upon the shrine of science.
"Isn't it beautiful? I'd no idea we had so many curious things. I gave that; don't it look well? We might make a lot by charging something for letting folks see it."
Jack added that last suggestion to the general chatter that went on as the family viewed the room.
"This is a free museum and if there is any speculating on it I'll paint out the name over the door," said Mr. Laurie, turning so quickly that Jack wished he had held his tongue.
"Hear! hear!" cried Mr. Bhaer.
"Speech! speech!" added Mrs. Jo.
"Can't, I'm too bashful. You give them a lecture yourself you are used to it," Mr. Laurie answered, retreating towards the window, meaning to escape. But she held him fast, and said, laughing as she looked at the dozen pairs of dirty hands about her,
"If I did lecture, it would on the chemical and cleansing properties of soap. Come now, as the founder of the institution, you really ought to give us a few moral remarks, and we will applaud tremendously."
Seeing that there was no way of escaping, Mr. Laurie looked up at Polly hanging overhead, seemed to find inspiration in the brilliant old bird, and sitting down upon the table, said, in his pleasant way,
"There is one thing I'd like to suggest, boys, and that is, I want you to get some good as well as much pleasure out of this. Just putting curious or pretty things here won't do it; so suppose you read up about them, so that when anybody asks questions you can answer them, and understand the matter. I used to like these things myself, and should enjoy hearing about them now, for I've forgotten all I once knew. It wasn't much, was it, Jo? Here's Dan now, full of stories about birds, and bugs, and so on; let him take care of the museum, and once a week the rest of you take turns to read a composition, or tell about some animal, mineral, or vegetable. We should all like that, and I think it would put considerable useful knowledge into our heads. What do you say, Professor?"
"I like it much, and will give the lads all the help I can. But they will need books to read up these new subjects, and we have not many, I fear," began Mr. Bhaer, looking much pleased, planning many fine lectures on geology, which he liked. "We should have a library for the special purpose."
"Is that a useful sort of book, Dan?" asked Mr. Laurie, pointing to the volume that lay open by the cabinet.
"Oh, yes! it tells all I want to know about insects. I had it here to see how to fix the butterflies right. I covered it, so it is not hurt;" and Dan caught it up, fearing the lender might think him careless.
"Give it here a minute;" and, pulling out his pencil, Mr. Laurie wrote Dan's name in it, saying, as he set the book up on one of the corner shelves, where nothing stood but a stuffed bird without a tail, "There, that is the beginning of the museum library. I'll hunt up some more books, and Demi shall keep them in order. Where are those jolly little books we used to read, Jo? 'Insect Architecture' or some such name, all about ants having battles, and bees having queens, and crickets eating holes in our clothes and stealing milk, and larks of that sort."
"In the garret at home. I'll have them sent out, and we will plunge into Natural History with a will," said Mrs. Jo, ready for any thing.
We probably won't ever have our own hopvine-shaded natural history museum, but after Jackson picked up one of those fabulous spiky-ball maple seeds today at the park and found it fascinating all the way home, I decided it was time to start a special nature box for the little fella. The inaugural collection includes a geode I collected my very own self from a dry stream bed in the part of Indiana where Grandpa Paul was raised, a sea-snail shell from the beach near here, a sand dollar collected and bleached by Dru, a pine cone we picked up on a recent visit to the Venice canals, and today's maple seed.

There was initially an acorn in the collection as well, and Jackson worked very hard fitting it into the perfect spot in the geode so the geode was like a nest and the acorn the egg, but then we realized that the acorn was a choking hazard. Plus, as Andrew pointed out, "It's a nut, and he's not allowed to have nuts until he's three!"

Anyway, there's a long history of loving natural history on my dad's side of the family--birdwatchers and bug observers galore--and I look forward to the collected treasures to come, be they bug exoskeletons, old wasp's nests or just plain interesting rocks.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Today's Treasures from the Used Bookstore

I'm gonna stop my book-buying binge soon. Really.

Today I hit another one of the NJWC stores, the one closest to my mom's house in Brentwood. Prices to high, but overall, pretty good quality books. You'll be proud of me--I didn't buy the 30-pound brand-new dictionary in a slipcase just because it'd be good to have a nice dictionary for the kids...

But I did buy...

Two Bright & Early board books. I own the big versions, and I think I had a rule about not duplicating, but I guess I forgot it for Hop on Pop and Dr. Seuss' ABC. Oh well.

A forgotten Judith Viorst relic from the 1970s called My Mama Says there Aren't any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Creatures, Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins, or Things, which I like slightly less since I got it home and read the Amazon reviews. It is possible it's one of this kids books that is really for (or about) adults.

My First Animal Lift-the-Flap Board BookI also picked up DK's My First Lift the Flap Animals Board Book, because of Jackson's animals obsession, and because the kiddo and I both like the interactivity of lift-the-flap books.

So those are the book the actual child might actually read. And then I also picked up a like-new first-edition copy of Tasha Tudor's Bedtime Book (1977) that I found hiding in a dark, forgotten corner of the book section. I don't personally love ultrasaccharine illustrators like Tudor and Eloise Wilkin, but they are quite collectible, and I'm hopeful I can resell this at a profit.

I also paid too much (or just enough?) for the third edition (two editions out of date) of Janson's History of Art for Young People, as well as a previously-unknown-to-me volume from a 1960s series called Art of the Western World, of which I've collected several volumes already. Why do I buy books like these? Because (a) all things considered they are relatively cheap, and (b) I am mentally preparing for a post-apocalyptic universe in which my gang of ragamuffin orphans must study for AP Art History without benefit of the Internet or actual school.

Or...or I'm a crazy hoarder.
Officer Buckle & Gloria (Caldecott Medal Book)Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann; this one is new to me, but I was attracted by the Caldecott Medal on the cover, and a vague familiarity with the author's name. It's turns out she's behind Good Night, Gorilla, which I adore. (Jackson, however, has never shown the slightest interest.) It's about a nebbishy policeman who only gets the attention of the kids he teaches when he brings along his wild and crazy dog, Gloria. Officer Buckle never notices the dog acting out the dangers that he 'is explaining (doggy hangs in the air, fur afrizzle, to demonstrate the risk of playing golf in rainstorm), but the children in the audience sure see it. Rathmann on her Amazon page explains:
"We have a videotape of my mother chatting in the dining room while, unnoticed by her or the cameraman, the dog is licking every poached egg on the buffet. The next scene shows the whole family at the breakfast table, complimenting my mother on the delicious poached eggs. The dog, of course, is pretending not to know what a poached egg is. The first time we watched that tape we were so shocked, we couldn't stop laughing. I suspect that videotape had a big influence on my choice of subject matter."
A pristine copy of Taro Gomi's Doodle All Year; basically a 365-page coloring book with some emphasis on the seasons. Taro Gomi is something of a mystery to me, I just know (a) I like his stuff, (b) he's Japanese, (c) he's had some crossover success in the United States without ever really having a massive breakout hit book, although Everyone Poops is fairly well-known. We have a copy of his Bus Stops, which is great, and his My Friends is also a popular board book.

The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes (A Calvin And Hobbes Treasury)Last but not least, a copy of The Authoritative Calvin & Hobbes, which is the second of the eight total volumes of CH. CH is of course (a) generally awesome, (b) supposedly great for emergent readers. Jackson's dad brought a collection of Calvin & Hobbes in to the marriage, and this will be a great supplement to that.

Total cost: $5.97