Monthly Archives: April 2013

It’s Official…

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We got the chromosome tests today…

Leia

 

And we are officially having a…

Wonder Woman

 

Girl!

No princesses here.  Well, okay, technically, Leia and Wonder Woman are both princesses… but our little girl is going to be the tough kind.  Like this:

Tough Baby

 

Only cuter.

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I’ve Graduated to….

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maternity jeans. Nothing’s sexier than a pair of stretchy jeans with a big black comfort band at the top.

Now I just need to buy 5" heels, and I'll be an incredibly comfortable pregnant lady.

Now I just need to buy 5″ heels, and I’ll be an incredibly comfortable pregnant lady.

I’ll say that I was completely flummoxed when I went shopping. Do I buy pants in my size or attempt to guess how big I’ll eventually get? Thankfully a very nice guy at the Baby Gap helped me out and gave me tips on buying the right pair.

Children’s Book Review – Barnes & Noble Edition

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Norie recently got a pre-natal massage (still not completely sure on what that actually is), so I had an hour or so to kill at Barnes & Noble. I spent most of that time in the children’s book section reading through books that I had never heard of before.  Here are my thoughts on what I read (and the requisite photo):

Got this picture from the net - I didn't actually crash someone's story time.

Got this picture from the net – I didn’t actually crash someone’s story time.

1.  Spoon (Amy Krouse Rosenthal) – There were a few clever word plays (especially about Spoon being depressed about stirring up trouble), but the art was unnecessarily cutesy, and the moral heavy handed.  Overall, it was utterly forgettable.  Grade: C-

2.  Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (Mo Willems) – I’d heard of this one before but hadn’t read it.  It’s clever in its way.  I like that it invited the reader to actively participate in what is happening, though it assumes a particular response (whereas I kept thinking I would totally let the pigeon drive the bus).  Grade: B-

3.  Puff the Magic Dragon (Peter Yarrow) – Using the Peter, Paul & Mary song for the text, this book puts offers some stunning visuals to round out the story.  Of particular interest is the way it uses the pictures to actually offer a slightly more uplifting ending without actually contradicting the lyrics.  The decision to include all of the lyrics, including consecutive repetitions of the chorus, though, made parts of the book a little awkward.  Grade: B+

4.  Mister Seahorse (Eric Carle) – What better way to challenge gender norms than to produce a book that celebrates the many sea species for whom it is the father that takes care of the eggs instead of the mother.  The book also makes clever use of transparencies to show creatures hiding underwater.  As the book goes on, though, it starts to get a bit repetitive, and even the beautiful artwork couldn’t keep me from getting bored by the end.  Grade: B

5.  Swimmy (Leo Lionni) – I went to a concert that featured a composition based on this book, and was happy to read the original version.  The artwork is beautiful and the story is compelling.  There is a subtle message about the contrast between being an individual and working with others, and the book shows the merits of both.  Overall I really liked it.  Grade: A-

6.  Wave (Suzy Lee) – This is a simple story about a girl playing in the waves at the beach.  It is all pictures, and the lack of words is fitting given the straightforward narrative.  The artwork, though, is gorgeous and there is a depth lurking beneath the book’s overall simplicity.  Grade: A

7.  Bluebird (Bob Staake) – The author claims to have worked on this book for ten years.  It seems to me that he could have saved himself roughly nine years and just watched The Red Balloon, because it’s almost exactly the same story.  It’s a great story, though, and in both cases it manages to be incredibly moving without any dialog.  The art in Bluebird is equally beautiful.  Grade: A

8.  No, David (David Shannon) – This strikes me as a book that children probably love for its outrageousness and silliness (and I’m sure the Varmint will particularly like it since the main character’s name is David).  There’s not much more to it than that, though.  Still, there’s something to be said for just having fun.  Grade: B+

9.  The Dark (Lemony Snicket) – This book about overcoming fears has a lot to recommend it, but in the end there is a drabness to the whole affair that kept it from being all that appealing.  Also, in an otherwise tight and subtle book, there’s one page that is almost all text that makes the message of the book really explicit and takes the life out of a story that had a lot of momentum.  It’s too bad that these flaws mar what has the potential to be a really good book.  Grade: B-

10.  Nightsong (Ari Berk) – This might have been my favorite of the books I read.  The story is wonderful and the artwork is fantastic – it somehow manages to find the aesthetic beauty of the color black.  The drawings of bats don’t shy away from the actual look of a bat despite the potential creepiness of the creatures.  The themes of art, beauty, and a love of wonder, though, are what make the book really shine.  Grade: A+

11.  Green (Laura Vaccaro Seeger) – I really enjoyed this book as well.  It takes the rather common idea of teaching children about color but puts a spin on it that makes it interesting and, ultimately, much more satisfying.  At the same time, there’s a clever lesson about language in there as well.  This is so much better than most of the condescending lessons that I’ve seen in a lot of children’s books so far.  Grade: A

Children’s Book Review – #3

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With the semester winding down I finally had some time to read some more children’s books.  Once again, I thought I’d share my thoughts.  I’ve already taken pictures of the books on the shelf, so I thought from this point forward I’d just include whatever picture in the batch of books that I’m reviewing most caught my eye.  This time, it’s from The Little Engine That Could:

I found the Big Engine's resemblance to a whale to be captivating.

I found the Big Engine’s resemblance to a whale to be captivating.

On to the reviews:

1.  The Missing Piece (Shel Silverstein) – I’ve never been a fan of The Giving Tree, so I didn’t think I’d like Silverstein that much, but Where the Sidewalk Ends and now this book have changed my mind.  The Missing Piece has such primitive drawings that I’m not sure why it works, but it definitely does.  The story’s emphasis on independence and enjoying life’s joys is one that Silverstein handles effectively and that is worth teaching.  Grade: A

2.  Scuffy the Tugboat (Gertrude Crampton) – I had a suspicion that the “Little Golden Book” series would be kind of crappy for the most part, and this book only reinforced this idea.  It’s benign enough, but there’s not much to recommend it – the art is blah and the story simplistic.  The moral at the end of the contrived plot is that Scuffy should know his place, which isn’t the best of messages.  Grade: D

3.  The Little Red Caboose (Marian Potter) – Another “Little Golden Book,” this one at least had some charm – although the countryside in the background is bizarre in a way that doesn’t fit the story.  My impression on “Little Golden Books” has always been that they are pretty disposable and uninteresting, and this book is a great example of that.  Grade: C

4.  The Poky Little Puppy (Janette Sebring Lowery) – Yet another “Little Golden Book,” this is one of the original twelve books in the series and claims to be the best selling children’s book of all time.  That just goes to prove that sales figures don’t mean much.  The story is fine, but it lacked any real depth.  If puppy’s weren’t adorable, and if the word “poky” wasn’t fun to say in its own right, this book wouldn’t be much of anything.  Grade: C+

5.  The Monster at the end of this Book (Jon Stone) – The final “Little Golden Book,” this one features Grover from Sesame Street imploring readers not to reach the end of the book because there will be a monster there, only to discover that he is the monster.  We’ve actually owned this one for a while because it’s one of Norie’s favorites.  Unlike the other “Little Golden Books,” this one is clever and a bit meta in a way that gives it some complexity.  It’s easily the best of the Golden bunch.  Grade: B+

6.  Hairs – Pelitos (Sandra Cisneros) – This is a children’s book adaptation of one of Cisneros’ very short stories in The House on Mango Street.  I like that it includes both the English and Spanish versions of the story, and there is definitely a charm to the artwork and the language.  What I like even more, though, is that this book proves that the line between children’s literature and adult literature can be a lot thinner (or in this case nonexistent) than we often think.  Grade: B+

7.  Where the Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak) – I’ve had this book for a while and there isn’t much to say about it that hasn’t already been said.  Maurice Sendak is awesome and this is his masterpiece.  That is all.  Grade: A+

8.  The Little Engine That Could (Watty Piper) – I’m not a big fan of overly didactic books or of sentimentality, so I didn’t expect to like this book very much, but ended up enjoying it tremendously.  Loren Long’s art has a lot to do with that (see the picture above), and the drawings here really breath new life into an old story.  The story, though, held up in its own right better than I thought it would.  It doesn’t beat us over the head with the message, but weaves the notion of determination into the story organically and subtly.  Grade: A-

9.  Caps for Sale (Esphyr Slobodkina) – This one was Norie’s idea, but I enjoyed it, too.  There’s an absurdity to the whole thing that is effective, and in the end the story is surprising yet feels completely natural.  At any level, that’s a sign of good writing.  Grade: B+

10.  My Very First Mother Goose (Iona Hope) – As a collection of folk rhymes it’s no surprise that the actual poems are pretty hit and miss.  Of course, there are some all time classics, but there are also a few that have awkward rhythms, or that are so archaic now that they aren’t all that interesting.  The artwork is okay, but I’m not sure what Rosemary Wells’ obsession with rabbits is.  There’s so much variety in the poetry, I wish the art had followed suit.  Grade: C+

Furniture and Other News

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First a quick update, as discussed in an earlier post, I was planning on having to sign-up for daycare immediately. After looking at the fees ($1320 per month, which has to be paid no matter how often we use it), I decided against that. Dave and I can hire someone to come and watch the baby when Dave is teaching. So the daycare issue is solved for now.

Now on to something fun…Instead of buying an IKEA or similar type of particle board changing table, Dave and I decided to buy some antique furniture for our bedroom/the baby’s room. So far we’ve replaced our IKEA chest with an Art Deco piece with a beautiful beveled mirror.

Chest

Yes, the mirror needs to be cleaned.

At the same antique store, the owner had bedside tables that are not an exact match, but are quite similar to our new chest.

Dave has already covered the table in books.

Dave has already covered the table in books.

Next up, we’re replacing our bed with a sage button-tufted headboard. We sold our IKEA bedroom set to a Sidizen, Eric Li, who will hopefully give it a good home in his new adult apartment.

We also found out that we might be getting a whole bunch of baby accouterments like car seats, strollers, etc., from my Aunt Carolyn via my cousin Darren and his wife Latia. Yeah!!

And We’re Having a… Wait for It… Cheeto!

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We went to get chromosome testing today to make sure everything was going well with the fetus.  We’ll get the official results in a couple weeks, but the doctor said the fetus looked healthy and there was no reason to think that the baby will have Downs’ Syndrome, which is the most common concern.

We also got to see another ultrasound and get another picture.  As you can see from the 3D image that the doctor gave us, we are giving birth to a healthy Cheeto:

Cheeto

For some reason, we only got a picture of the 3D image, which isn’t nearly as useful as the 2D images.  In those it’s clear that the fetus is developing well.  It actually looks kind of human now, complete with four limbs, a nose, and a startling talent for doing the worm.  We also heard the heartbeat, which I have to say, had excellent bass tone.

The doctor also told us what he thinks the gender will be (we’ll know for sure when we get the test results in a couple of  weeks).  He cautioned that, at this stage, he can’t be sure just from looking, but he thinks we’re having… a girl!  Looks like it’s time to add the Princess Leia outfit to the R2-D2 outfit that we’ve already ordered (and by “we’ve already ordered” I mean, “I ordered while Norie shook her head”):

Leia