Every day, something new comes up around here. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good. Like The Bug That Must Not Be Named that freaked me out after midnight last night. I got up to read in the living room and I noticed Geronimo behaving strangely. He was staring at something in the corner, and I thought, "Oh please no." And there it was, freakishly long antennae waving, stupid long legs looking yucky, shudder, shudder, shudder. Ew. I actually said, "Come on, Geronimo, you're a big guy. You can take it." He looked up at me dubiously, as if to say, "I know it moves, but I can't tell if it's prey or not. And it doesn't look tasty. And how do you kill it, anyway?" and continued to watch it in a vaguely perplexed manner. So I did what any modern woman would do. I went and woke up my husband. I know, feminists everywhere are cringing, but I just can't stand the things. I get the heebie-jeebies just typing the name. (Like the arachnophobic Joey said on Friends, regarding a caged tarantula, "Is it on me? I feel like it's on me.") I trap and release spiders with no problem at all, but these things. Ugh. Welcome to the South. We've already had to deal with fire ant eradication in our yard, mosquitoes in our neighborhood carry West Nile, and now this! Excuse me while I go call the exterminator, or possibly a contractor to construct a protective bubble around the house.
On a happier note, here are the guys, enjoying the stairs. Geronimo is laying on a large catnip-stuffed rat.
Lilah loves the stairs, too. There's nothing funnier than being at one end of the stairs with someone else at the other!
The home decorating continues. We hated our first living room window attempt, then we got a new valance, new rod, and Matt came up with the idea of gathering the curtain in the middle instead of pulling it back on the sides. Isn't it neat?
Knitting: Still working on the shrug. I can't resist showing my first attempt at a Russian Join. I think it worked well. It's on the edge, in any case, and not that visible, I don't think. I found a lovely tutorial right here that helped me out (this is the technique blog attached to The Boy Who Knits).
It's kind of blurry. My camera did not want to do this close-up at all. I'm darn close to halfway done with the shrug! Woo!
Reading: I'm nearly done with The Science of Harry Potter. It's a lot of fun. If you're not interested in science, though, it's probably too dry for you. It's more a survey of natural and social sciences in the context of Harry Potter than an explanation of magic.
I thought I'd mention some of our favorite books for Lilah, since I mostly talk about *my* reading. Unless otherwise noted, they're all board books. Obviously, we're big book people, as the list below just addresses some of her (and our) favorites. I've recently been doing what Matt calls "a dramatic reading" of Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury that, despite the story's length, keeps Lilah riveted. It takes a lot of energy, though.
Charles Fuge - Sometimes I Like To Curl Up In A Ball introduces Little Wombat and his animal friends. Charming rhymes, gorgeous pictures of animals. Unfortunately, the follow-up Little Wombat books just aren't as good. The illustrations are still wonderful, but the stories are less compelling. I Know A Rhino is absolutely darling. It's imaginative, beautifully drawn, and nicely rhymed. It's about a little girl who makes up stories about her stuffed animals. My Dad is a rarity--a book about a dad instead of a mom. I got this for Matt for his first Father's Day. It's fairly simple, a story about a bear bragging about his dad, but it's sweet and his drawings can't be beat.
Annie Kubler - Her illustrated versions of songs are just adorable, and some of Lilah's favorites are Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (which uses animals and people from all the continents and can prompt fun discussions about cultures and where different animals live with older toddlers), The Wheels on the Bus (the bus takes children, a magician, a clown, and others to a birthday party in the illustrations for an extra dimension), and Row, Row, Row Your Boat (which adds a couple of really cute verses to round out the short song and features babies in the illustrations, which Lilah loves).
Eric Hill - Lilah loves the lift-the-flap spot books, Spot Goes To The Farm, Where's Spot?, Spot Bakes a Cake. These are classics for a reason.
Barney Saltzberg - Peekaboo Kisses and Noisy Kisses are lots of fun for Lilah. She loves lift-the-flaps and feeling the different textures.
Karen Katz - Peek-a-Baby, Where Is Baby's Belly Button?, What Does Baby Say - more lift-the-flaps. Lilah likes the baby faces and she loves peek-a-boo.
Jane Yolen and Mark Teague - How Do Dinosaurs...? books. We discovered these through Kohl's Cares for Kids, the charitable organization of the department store. They periodically offer very inexpensive hardback books with accompanying stuffed animals, with proceeds going to health and education programs for kids. My mom (an elementary school principal) knew about these and ordered them for us. There are several board books available, too. Dinosaurs are much more pleasant and well-mannered than you probably thought! Cute rhymes, amazing dinosaur drawings that include the names of each type of dinosaur, and positive messages make these really fun. We have the three hardbacks, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon, and How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? We also have two of the board books, How Do Dinosaurs Learn Their Colors and How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? We like them all, and plan to get the others.
Sandra Boynton - We have pretty much all the Boynton books. They are fantastic. Cute rhymes, wonderful animal drawings, plus many with accompanying songs. A cost-effective way to get several is with two Boyton's Greatest Hits boxed sets through amazon (new for $15 for 4 books, and another (Big Box of Boynton) with 3 books for $13. Lilah loves music, so these are a big hit. Boynton has three musicals with books, and a fourth musical, Blue Moo, coming out this fall. We got them from my mom through Kohl's Cares for Kids. Rhinoceros Tap is the first. The songs with board books available are Horns To Toes and Barnyard Dance. We have lots of giggly fun with Tickle Time. All the songs are performed by the very talented Adam Bryant, so this one lacks the "Wow, that's Meryl Streep!" sort of fun on the later, star-studded musicals, but the songs are all enjoyable, and it doesn't really matter. Then comes Philadelphia Chickens. Songs with available board books are Snuggle Puppy, Pajama Time, and Belly Button (Round). Other highlights are Scott Bakula singing Pig Island and Laura Linney's very funny Please Can I Keep It?, but the whole CD is fun. The most recent is Dog Train. Our favorite songs on this one are the Kate Winslet-Weird Al Yankovic duet I Need A Nap, Penguin Lament sung by Five for Fighting's John Ondrasik (even my cool, 23-year-old brother brother loved these two), and Billy J. Kramer's three-episode Cow Planet saga, but again, we like the whole CD. Very non-annoying kids music. We put these on when Lilah's fussy and dance with her, or sing along with her board books. She loves music (as soon as we start playing music, she starts bopping in time with the beat, very cute), so it usually stops her fussing and often puts her to sleep if she's tired. Lilah's favorite Boynton board books are Your Personal Penguin (with a free download of the song performed by Davy Jones of the Monkees), Belly Button Book (a sister song is on Philadelphia Chickens), Pajama Time (song on Philadelphia Chickens), The Going To Bed Book, and Snuggle Puppy (song on Philadelphia Chickens). We were excited to see that Boynton has a bath book coming out soon.
Wow, that's a long list. I hope someone finds it interesting!
Writing - I've at least been jotting down ideas. I've hated my beginning for a while, and I may have figured out how to do it in a less lame way. The problem is finding time for a rewrite, which may be solved since we're visiting my parents for a week and a half, which means I have a lot more personal time.
Cooking - Nothing that exciting. Matt commutes almost an hour (sometimes more), so by the time he gets home from work, we throw something together or go out. I've been cooking like a madwoman on the weekends to create leftovers to eat during the week, and that's helping. We've moved our going-out-for-dinner from weekends to weekdays when we have less time for cooking.
Happy Anniversary to you, too, Yarnthrower!