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2016 in books

30 December, 2016
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Here’s what I read this year:

  1. The Book of Aron (Jim Shepard)
  2. Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Know (Emily Oster)
  3. The Japanese Lover (Isabel Allende)
  4. The Bazar of Bad Dreams (Stephen King)
  5. Salt to the Sea (Ruta Sepetys)
  6. The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah)
  7. The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money (Ron Lieber)
  8. The Running Man (Stephen King)
  9. Fates and Furies (Lauren Groff)
  10. Lights Out: A Cyberattack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath (Ted Koppel)
  11. The Whole-brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture your Child’s Developing Mind (Daniel Siegel)
  12. The Wicked + the Divine: Vol. 1, the Faust Act (Kieron Gillen)
  13. Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein)

And this year, there’s an honorable mention – Fantastic Mr. Fox (Roald Dahl) became the first chapter book that I read to Pony Monkey.

What will 2017 hold for us? We’ll have to wait and see.  There is talk, however, of attempting the Harry Potter series.  It’d be a first for both of us..


2016 gift

26 December, 2016

Every year, The Husband chooses one moment to have recreated in a drawing and gives it to me as a gift.  It’s fun to guess at what he’ll choose for that year.  The birth of our son this year was an obvious choice.. too obvious, so he went for something else:


Here we see Queen Elsa, played by three-year-old Pony Monkey, using a seven or eight-month-old Little Dude as a step stool to aid in her attempt to escape from her kennel.

Learning to use one’s environment to help in tricky situations is some sort of developmental milestone, right? And siblings working together is something all parents hope to someday see, no? We’re so proud.

Seriously though, this is our life.  This is what little kids do.  This is what gives us our teachable moments.  And this is what The Husband chose for 2016.  I couldn’t be happier.

(thank you, my friend.)

interview with a 3.25 year old

20 December, 2016

I don’t remember quarter years being a thing when I was younger.  I have clear memories of being in grade school and taking pride in my half year, but never even thinking about a quarter year.  It doesn’t matter though because I’m making it a thing now.  To remember.

While bathing Pony Monkey this evening, I asked her if she’d be up for an interview and explained the (not terribly significant) significance of her being 3.25 years old today as well as taking time to reflect on things at the end of the calendar year.

This is what I got before she decided that the questions were interfering with her ability to fill her dismembered mermaid doll carcass with bubbles:

Me: What was the best part of 2016?

PM: Going trick or treating

Me: What was the worst part of 2016?

PM: That broke down city got broke down. (She’s talking about Aleppo)

Me: What is the best part of being a big sister?

PM: That I will always be a big sister for two thousand years.

Me: What is the worst part of being a big sister?

PM: That I don’t get to get Duder in the bathtub.

Me: What is the best part of the winter holidays?

PM: That we could just go get cookies from people who are giving us cookies. One or three or four cookies.

Me: What is the worst part of the winter holidays?

PM: Not trick or treating. I really like trick or treating.

Me: What is the best part of being 3.25 years old?

PM: We could read Fantastic Mr. Fox over and over again.

Me: What is the worst part of being 3.25 years old?

PM: I’m done. Just done.

And so am I..

non-interview with an 8 month old

8 December, 2016

I tried to interview the Little Dude

He declined comment.


The time has been flying by a lot quicker with this one.  In a few minutes, it’ll be 11:31PM, and Little Dude will be exactly 8 months old.

In his time so far, he’s grown a lot, developed some preferences, and acquired some skills.

He’s 29″ tall.

He weighs 20 lbs.

He has four teeth.

He does a fantastic pterodactyl impersonation.

He laughs at Pony Monkey’s antics and follows her around like a little puppy.

He can crawl, scoot, and pull himself into a standing position.  And as of last weekend, he can sit up now too.  He’s also starting to cruise around on furniture.

He can fill a shot glass with drool in 2.3 seconds.

He loves scrambled eggs, oranges, and hummus.

He doesn’t like the cold wind or being more than a few feet away from me.

And he’s pretty much the sweetest Little Dude that I’ve ever met.


reminisce, reminisce, reminisce

8 December, 2016

Yesterday morning, Pony Monkey and I were sitting on the daybed chatting about the night her brother was born.  While she definitely remembered him being born, her ability to recall certain details has diminished to the point where I was sincerely shocked.  Just a few months ago, she was able to rattle off so many little details about his birth. Some were still there, but others she had no idea on, even after I asked her pretty pointedly if she remembered this or that.

Maybe the events of that night weren’t as impactful, and therefore as memorable, to her as they were to me.  Maybe her brain is just so busy developing that this memory slipped away. Either way, thinking about this led me to staying up past my bedtime to reread articles on brain development and memory.

An August 2016 article from Newsweek entitled “Childhood Amnesia: Understanding the Symptoms and the Causes” in particular caught my attention.  Looking at differences in memory between children and adults is interesting enough on its own, but considering that I have two young children and can help to shape the way they remember things? Fascinating!

Some days, especially lately, I spend every waking moment with my kids.

Other days, I stay up later than I should just so I can enjoy being alone with my thoughts, peppered by the periodic wake-ups of a Little Dude who isn’t so keen on sleeping alone.

Either way, it’s safe to assume that I get at least 12-14 hours a day in the company of my imps. And in that time, much conversation is had.

I love learning new things, especially on subjects that are dear to me.  I’m happier still when, in the course of learning, I’m awarded some sort of parenting gold star.  I can’t remember how or when Pony Monkey started asking for me to tell her stories, but it is definitely part of our regular routine now.  And per this article, the act of reminiscing together aids in memory retention in children (and, I’d imagine, adults as well).

I’ll be sure to put that one on my star chart.

interview with a three year old

19 September, 2016

I blinked, and suddenly, I have a three year old.

She was feeling more cooperative than usual this morning and agreed to an interview:

  1. What is your name? “Faraday”
  2. How old are you? “two, almost three, then I’ll be four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.. Shazia used to be ten.”
  3. When is your birthday? “September 20th”
  4. How old is Mama? “twenty-two”
  5. How old is Bu? “two-twenty, no he’s four-twenty”
  6. What is your favorite color? “vermilion! Are you writing ‘Faraday likes vermilion birthdays?’ why?”
  7. What is your favorite food? “Do you mean ‘vermilion foods?’ I love vermilion foods!”
  8. Who is your best friend? “Mookie Cat and Ninja Cat”
  9. What’s your favorite TV show? “Dora!”
  10. What is your favorite movie? “Hoppy Star” (never heard of this)
  11. What’s your favorite song? “Rubber dub my mum” (never heard of this either)
  12. What is your favorite animal? “a kitty!”
  13. What are you scared of? “monsters”
  14. What makes you happy? “giving Bu presents at his tea party”
  15. Where is your favorite place to go? “the children’s museum”
  16. What do you want to be when you grow up? “I want to be a doctor.”
  17. What is Mama’s favorite thing to do? “Putting the sheets on the bed if they’re not dirty” (yeah, I live for this activity, really..)
  18. What does love mean? “I love somebody.”
  19. Who do you think is going to win in November’s election? “I am because I’m really fast!”
  20. What is one skill you’d like to acquire in the next year? “pogo stick”

this weekend’s moment in which I leveled up

21 August, 2016

Yesterday afternoon, I leveled up as a mother.  But being that I was so caught up in mothering, I failed to notice my powers growing, building, and.. well, leveling up until after the fact. I feel like a lot of being a mom is like that – you need to be strong, creative, and able to adapt to whatever gets thrown at you, literally or figuratively, and it isn’t until you take a few steps back that you realize everything it is that you’re doing.

Right now, we’re spending a long weekend on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.  Our plan? The beach.  Today’s weather? Stormy – lots of rain, fierce winds, and even a couple of tornadoes not far from here.

What do you do when your beach vacation gets rained out?  Head to the local cinema, of course! My sister-in-law was surprised that I wanted to go see a movie with a four month old and an almost three year old, but hey, what’s the worst that could happen? Live dangerously.


A week or so ago, Pony Monkey decided that diapers are better suited to babies and now prefers to do her business on a potty or toilet.  Did she need to use the bathroom right before we left for our movie?  No.  Of course not.

We got our tickets, got our popcorn, selected seats strategically located nearest the exit, and settled in to enjoy our show.  Little Dude was amazed by the big screen, as well as the new sounds and smells.  Shortly after the movie started though, he fell asleep.


And at that moment, Pony Monkey whisper-shouted, as only toddlers seem to do, that she needed to pee.

Did I attempt to pass off a sleeping babe and risk waking him up, crying no doubt, as my toddler wets herself? No, I mom’d up.

To the bathroom we three went, sleeping baby slung over my shoulder.  Pony Monkey peered into each stall, noting that there were only big toilets and no little potties like back home.

“Mama, help me.  I need to pee.”  An accident wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but we’d all prefer to avoid it.  The sense of urgency kicked up a notch or two.

Donkey Mama dressed Pony Monkey in jeans and a onesie (i.e., snaps at the crotch); both items require adult disassembly. No worries.  Shift the weight of the sleeping baby.  Use free hand to tug jeans down.  Slide fingernails in between each side of the snaps in the onesie, thereby opening the shirt.  Tug down undergarments.  Instruct toddler to hug her mama around the neck and hang on.  Lift toddler and position her on toilet seat such that neither pee sprays out nor bum falls in.  Warn toddler that if she lefts go, the result may be unpleasant.  Wipe.  Dress. Herd toddler out of stall.  Angle baby away from toilet. Flush. Wash hands. Praise the air dryer for not being one of the loud ones.  Exit bathroom, baby asleep, both toddler and mama beaming for all that we’ve accomplished.

Over the course of the last almost three years, I’ve had a handful of moments where I’ve felt like I’d bitten off more than I could chew.  I’m happy to say though that I’ve had a far greater number of moments where I’ve felt like I’ve got this. Now if only I could figure out how to keep up with everything else..

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