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Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Stray Dog

The Stray Dog by Marc Simont

Even when on a story time roll it is very rare for Coryn to ask to re-read a book the moment we reach the last page. When she asks for a book to be read to her three times in a row you can put the book in a very special category. This library trip we found a very special book called "The Stray Dog."

Most of its popularity is probably due to the fact that Coryn would really like a puppy so this story where a stray dog approaches a family on their picnic is her ultimate fantasy. The text is sparse (some pages have no words at all, just narrative advancing pictures), but the illustrations tell most of the story and you can point out things as they happen in your own words.

Coryn especially loves the pictures of the dog park and will point out every dog to me and ask questions about them. We may not be able to own a real dog any time soon, but The Stray Dog will be a favorite around our apartment for awhile to come.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back to the Library

The last few weeks have led to some new book discoveries, mainly due to me raiding the "Caldecott" section of my library where they have "winner" and "honor" books set aside. Not all Caldecotts are automatic "winners" in my book, but a lot of them are, and it is a good place to start if your library has a similar section. A couple of these books have become new favorites, for myself and my daughter. Some have even made it on to my amazon wish list.

Here is this week's list:

Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
If you have a child with their own, distinct, fashion sense, this book will make you smile as much as your listeners. Coryn loves watching as Ella Sarah gets more and more frustrated ("She's angry, Mommy!") with other people's attempts to dress her in bland clothes when she has the "perfect" outfit in mind.

Ben's Trumpet by Rachel Isadora
This book's stark, black and white illustrations tell a lively story of a little boy who longs for nothing more than to be a jazz musician. When his friends catch him playing his imaginary horn, he is temporarily discouraged only to have an unexpected hero offer him the encouragement he needs. There are pictures of several different instruments and the book would lend well to a preschool music curriculum.

Hush! by Minfong Ho
When tucking Coryn in the night of the library trip, I asked Coryn which book was her favorite, and she swiftly said the one with the animals. In Hush!: A Thai Lullaby a mother is forced to sing to every animal in the forest, attempting to quiet them so her baby won't wake up. She goes as far as to take on an elephant which sent Coryn into immediate giggles. The rhymes are pleasantly rhythmic though apparently Thai ducks say "Ghap-ghap" instead of "quack-quack" which can cause pause. . .you might choose to relay sounds your child is used to to avoid them arguing with the book, but that's up to you.

Robert Frost: Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening illustrated by Susan Jeffers
I was pleasantly surprised when Coryn brought me this book and even more surprised when she sat through it. This classic poem is simple enough and tells enough of a narrative to introduce even young readers to their first "non-nursery rhyme" poetry. This version has simple pictures but each manages to tell a story in its own right.

Instructions by Neil Gaiman
Coryn was attracted to the dragon on this cover. It isn't a story so much as an essay on how to survive a fairy tale, but the pictures draw you in and the text is soothing. However, after the first read through (which was uneventful), she decided it was too scary and hasn't asked for it again. There are some monsters in the book, more grotesque than scary, but I'm letting her set the pace here, so we probably won't read it again.

Miffy's Book of Friendship by Dick Bruna
This book has one draw: it's tiny. The book itself is only about two inches by two inches and Coryn was fascinated by this and loves to carry it around the house with her. The text and pictures are "meh" in my opinion, but since she loves to carry it around with her, we've read it a few times.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I think that if I had a roomba we'd quickly become best friends. I would name it, of course. . .Artoo or possibly Data. . . and my cat would ride on it like that youtube cat. . . oh, and it would follow my toddler around picking up her trail of crumbs like the birds in Hansel and Gretel.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Where Is That Cat?

One of Coryn's all time favorite library reads, and a personal favorite of mine is "Where Is That Cat?" by Carol Greene. I found it while combing through the shelves one day, immediately snared by the word "cat" in the title. I'm a consistent lover of all things cat and am raising my daughter accordingly. Also, adding to the appeal, the brown tabby on the cover looks a good deal like Coryn's beloved Kazi-Kitty.

However, this book proved to have more in store for us than its obvious cat appeal.

The story is a charming mix of repetition and seek and find as an old lady attempts to give away an accidentally acquired stray cat . . . but some how every time someone responds to her ad (Wanted: a good home for a fluffy cat named Fitz), said cat is no where to be found (Prompting the oft repeated question "Where is that cat?").

Fitz is always somewhere in the picture and Coryn loves to point him out, even though she long ago memorized his every hiding spot. Of course, Fitz eventually ends up in the home he really wants. Coryn never tires of reading this book and I never tire of reading it to her.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cleaning with Coryn

Today Coryn helped me clean the bathrooms.

Of course, Coryn's idea of helping is spraying windex on every reachable surface but it was a start. I set down three ground rules: One, she could spray windex wherever she wanted but she needed to wipe it off afterwards; two, the toilet was my job and she was not allowed to touch it; and three, don't put anything involved in this project in your mouth. She followed rule one for the most part. Two and three were violated several times each. Oh, and I forgot to mention she was doing all this in a blue Cinderlla dress.

When I caught her violating rule number two I whipped out my angry voice and told her, 'No, that's mommy's job. Don't touch." She later returned the favor telling me that the door was her job and I shouldn't touch. She would correct me if I came any where near "her areas."

Coryn loves turning my commands against me. She has told me to be patient when I've told her to hurry up. She loves pretending to be the mommy and sends me to my room or punishes her toys in the name of parenting. I guess at least she's paying attention.

I cleaned my husband's bathroom today too. Our apartment has two bathrooms, one with a bath and one with just a shower. Since I'm mostly a bath taker the one attached to the master bedroom was appropriated for and by my husband. I keep a spare razor in the shower in case I want to use it but that's it. All my various paraphernalia is in the bathroom Coryn and I share. A few months ago (I swear) Matt told me not to bother cleaning his bathroom. He'd take care of it. . . but yesterday I went in there and YUCK!

Matt is normally the cleaner half of the Heidi-Matt couple. He has higher standards for cleaning and just cares more. I can put up with a lot of mess before I feel the urge to clean .. . which is what made the mess in the bathroom both disturbing and surprising. The main problem was the hair, tiny, spiky pieces of hair from Matt shaving his head once a week. It was pretty much everywhere. I think I went through six wash cloths on his bathroom alone. We are going to have a talk about this, but he will probably just deny ever saying he would take care of the room and give me a hard time about not doing "my job." Sigh. Oh well. He's still pretty loveable in his own, infuriating way.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What we are up to:

Current library check outs:

Where the Wild Thins Are by Maurice Sendak
This one was my pick. Coryn will read it with me, but it isn't truly one of her favorites.
You Are What You Eat by Serge Bloch
Coryn picked this book out in a frenzy of last minute book grabbing but has asked to read it several times since then so it is apparently a hit. It is the story of how a picky eater learns to make bolder food choices told with food sayings like "drive me bananas" and "your goose is cooked." She likes the funny pictures.
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Mary Ann Hoberman and Nadine Bernard Westcott
Another Coryn pick and I have no idea why they need two authors for a story where the text is almost word for word a classic nursery rhyme (apparently the original ending was too scary because it has been changed from 'she died of course' to 'she's full of course.'), but the rhyme itself is as funny as ever and the pictures are cute.
Helping Hands this (apparently authorless) Coryn pick is a board book that just contains pictures of animals dressed to represent different occupations followed by labels (Bus driver, teacher, police officer, librarian, etc). Coryn likes it but I'm not going to be sad when we take it back.
Where's That Cat? by Carol Greene. Coryn adores this book and we've checked it out several times. It is the story of an old lady who finds a stray cat and attempts to give it away to a good home. .. only to have the cat turn up missing whenever someone comes to take it away. The cat is always hidden somewhere in the picture and Coryn will gleefully point it out to me when the line "Where's that cat?" is inevitably read.

For myself I got The Blue Fairy Book because I adore fairy tales and am forever in search of new ones and Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts which I am just looking through for ideas. All her projects tend to be a little material heavy, though, and it rough sometimes to get a hold of what I need here in Japan. . .plus I don't exactly have my own craft room. .. sigh, some day maybe.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Too Much Television

I will readily confess to watching too much television. I love stories, even bad or predictable ones, and if I start watching a story I can't leave it until I find out how it ends. This managed to get me sucked into CSI back when we actually had a satellite dish in the first few months of our marriage (it was supposed to be part of our internet package, but then the internet part of the package didn't work for our area because of some objects blocking the signal on the skyline or whatever. . .I think they should've let us out of the contract at this point because the skyline wasn't our fault, but we had to wait until Matt's next deployment gave us the "easy out." You can get out of so many contracts as a military family, which is a weird but surprisingly nice advantage). I already had a thing for Star Trek and after the Voyager reruns I would watch during the afternoon there were CSI re-runs. It didn't take me long to start caring and when we got Netflix and had online access to episodes. . .then Hulu . . . there is always something to watch.

I don't prefer (most) reality television, though if it involves cooking there is a chance I might've tried it out at some point, and I got into "Pawn Stars" which is like "Antiques Roadshow" but quicker moving. Oh and "Master Chef" and "Kitchen Nightmares". . .

And CSI led me to CSI:NY (CSI:Miami is too much even for me) which led me to "Bones" which led me to "Numb3rs." "Monk" got me sucked into "Psych" (which is now my all time favorite), "White Collar," and "Burn Notice." Then of course, "Castle" and "House" and "Criminal Minds." It is just ridiculous how many shows I'm following.

I have a very good memory, which allows me to point out when shows steal from each other or when a guest star has been in multiple shows I like (Navi Rawat has been on Numb3rs, Burn Notice, and Castle, just off the top of my head.). I also called foul when "Criminal Minds" used the serial killer/taxi driver who incapacitates his victims with gas that fills up the back of his cab device that CSI:NY had used in season four.

I actually usually go out of my way not to get pulled into new shows, dodging recommendations from friends, ignoring catchy trailers, all because I know once I start, I probably won't be able to stop, but today I tried out two new shows, just for the heck of it.

The first was "Breaking In," a "Leverage" rip off for those who don't have a full 45 minutes to devote to a show and would rather watch a 21 minute version. The main difference appears to be that in "Leverage" the thieves/con-men/hackers break the law for a good cause but will be arrested if they are caught whereas in "Breaking In" the thieves/con-men/hackers break the law under the guise of testing security systems, so the assumption is unless there is some massive misunderstanding, they'll never be arrested. I kind of liked it, but that's mainly because I kind of like Christian Slater. He's got a kind of just shy of crazy charm that reminds me of Michael Keaton before he started losing his hair and doing Disney voice work. It does really draw heavily on Leverage, however, even to the point of having an African American hacker/nerd (apparently white and nerdy is the new stereotype to bust; someone better inform Weird Al). It's not a great show though, so I doubt it will pull me in.

The second was "Body of Proof," the concept of this one is a female Dr. House who deals with dead people to solve murder rather than medical mysteries. It also draws from "Bones" in that the lead is highly skilled medical examiner but lacks personal skills to deal with living people and relies heavily on a charming, handsome male partner (though in this one he is an assistant rather than a partner, but you get my point) to take care of politics and the living. I was probably not going to continue with this series, but part way through Jeri Ryan popped into the story in what appears to be a reoccurring role, and I will most likely continue watching just for that. After all, with Jeri Ryan resistance is futile (throws in a Star Trek:Voyager joke just for nerd cred).

Anyway, that's my TV confession.