Christmas presents 2013

December 10, 2013

Here it is, my annual holiday gift round-up. As usual, no pictures — don’t want the kids peeking anything from across the room. This list isn’t quite complete. I’m a little bit using it to figure out what else I need. Though we are being real hammers this year about not getting too much. Our kids just don’t need anything else, truly. They circled a bunch of stuff in catalogs that they already own. Which I took as affirming that they like their own stuff already, but I’m not buying Zuzu a second broom. That’s just silly.

Henry, age 10:

  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He’s read and re-read The Hobbit and is ready for this, I think. I got him this nice edition (from my local indie bookstore).
  • The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen. I’ll admit I haven’t read this (yet) but it has gotten great reviews from people I trust, and Henry loved Nielsen’s Goblin Wars trilogy.
  • Wildwood by Carson Meloy (another one I want to read, and that I think Henry will like)
  • Odin’s Ravens. This is a game. It’s out of print, so I got it on eBay.
  • King of Tokyo. Another game. Haven’t decided yet if I’m giving this to him, or to everyone.

Eli, age 7:

  • Journey by Aaron Becker. A beautiful, beautiful picture book. We got it out of the library, and Eli declared it “the best book I’ve ever seen.” And every time he looked at it, he’d talk about how amazing he thinks it is. So not only did I get this for him, I bought all the copies they had at the bookstore. Teachers are getting this one too. (I am also seriously tempted to get Eli one of the prints, too. Thinking.)
  • Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. Haven’t decided yet whether this is for Eli or for everyone.
  • The kid wants a wooden toy boat. A lot. This is the one he wants, I might make a half-hearted attempt to find one that’s slightly larger.
  • Ok, so Eli wants a tank that shoots at things (like, really shoots) and also a sword (like he doesn’t already have enough swords).  I’m definitely not getting the tank, because I’d like everyone in the house to keep both of their eyeballs. My compromise to all this might be to get him a punching bag. I still have to look into this more, but he is a kid who likes big movement, and I think a big thing to punch at would be helpful.
  • Both boys are getting (together, I mean) this Lego Ewok village thing. They super duper asked for it. And I like getting Legos because they occupy the kids for so long, and also (mostly?) we have a dedicated place for them to go, already, in the house (a Lego bin).
  • Both boys are getting Fantasy: An Artist’s Realm by Ben Boos. Because it’s a little ridiculous how many times we’ve gotten it out of the library.

On that last point, I’ll pause here to say that, at this point, having four kids, I see toys they might want — fairy treehouses or doll houses, or play kitchens, or dolly strollers, and I know they would love them, but we just don’t have room. I feel conflicted about this. Like, is this it, forever? “Here are our established toy systems. We do not deviate from these systems. You can have Legos, toy food, blocks, or those little hard plastic Schleich animals. You may not choose any toy that is its own piece of furniture. Do you want a game? A book? You can have those. You want a cradle for your doll? Sorry, honey. We’ll have to get rid of your dresser to make that happen.”

Zuzu, age 5:

  • So last year we got her this Learning Resources School Set, and she has played with it every day since. If you have a kid who likes to play school, you need to get this. I wish I could give it to her all over again. Or something. At any rate, I got some teacher-y things at the dollar store. Some flash cards and a counting thing that I think is stickers you can put on the window?
  • The girl loves her shoes. And clothes. I don’t want to pigeon-hole her too much, but oh boy she loves shoes. She has a pair of cowboy boots she wears every day, but they’re getting small, and one day I was trying to get stuff done and showed her how to pin stuff onto Pinterest, and she made a whole board of shoes she wants.  She’s going to get these shimmery blue cowboy boots for Christmas. And also some clothes from the Gap that have sparkles on them. (And sunglasses for the rest of us, so we can look at her, with all this glitter.)
  • She’s had a bunch of dress-up tiaras in her five years, and they’ve all broken. I don’t really get too much into the princess stuff, but she does love a tiara every now and again, and is always heartbroken when they break. So Z and Ramona are both getting sturdier tiaras.
  • Zuzu really wants a window-washing kit. I don’t know whether to be horrified (like she’s so repulsed by my housekeeping that she’s going to take over the job) or thrilled (she’s going to take over the job!). Anyway. She’s cute.
  • She showed some interest in a potholder loom, and, honestly, when the boys started making some of those rainbow loom bracelet things, Zuzu turned out to be kind of an instant genius at it. She completely understood the whole weaving concept, while the rest of us were getting frustrated and inadvertently shooting rubber bands across the room.
  • Did you know that there’s a Hello Kitty graphic novel? A few of them! My pal Colby Sharp says they’re pretty good. Zuzu’s going to love them.

Ramona, age 3

Oh, poor fourth child, who is so happy to go along with everything. What will I get you?

  • Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs by Michaela Muntean. This is such a sweet story. Ramona loves this book, but we didn’t own it.
  • A dress with POCKETS. The girl loves pockets.
  • One of those study tiaras that Zuzu is getting.
  • Ramona’s favorite gift from last Christmas was a black lab doggie I got at Goodwill. He looks like this. Last weekend we were at a birthday party, and one of the birthday presents was a tiny version of that doggie, in a little bag. Ramona got uncharacteristically anxious; she started chewing on her thumb and looked extremely agitated. Basically — she was trying to hold it in and not run over and take that dog-in-a-bag because she wanted it so much.
  • Something else? She loves her doll stuff. Maybe a doll thing. Or more play food. She likes that a lot too. Or something else that one of you suggests?

Santa might be bringing everyone a Lego minifigure in their stockings. He’s also bringing them candy canes. And bookmarks. And the usual round-up of oranges and apples.

The kids all have also requested Lego sets to give from each other (not sure about that sentence syntax — they want to buy each other Lego sets).

That’s the round-up right now. I’ll post more in the comments if things change.

CATEGORIES: etsy, Henry, holidays, Ramona, Zuzu

New Review: MOONDAY by Adam Rex

September 18, 2013

Anyone who knows me knows what huge Adam Rex fans we are here. We read everything he has any part in (just the other day we were reading his discarded to-do lists for a bedtime story) (not really) (but we would if we could).

So I was so glad that Adam somehow managed to schedule the release of Moonday to coincide with the first day of school.  The kids had Moonday waiting for them when they got off the bus.

You won’t be surprised to hear me gush about it on this week’s episode of Brain Burps About Books. It’s a gorgeous, lovely, amazing book, a wondrous book. Moonday proves (not that we doubted it) that Adam Rex is not a one-note writer/illustrator. This book is dreamy in a way his other books are not, but in a way that we all get (note: I mean dreamy as in “like a dream” not like “Davy Jones is dreamy”).

And just look how that book glows! It illuminates Henry’s face like the book is actually the moon! [Insert requisite pun/joke here about Henry therefore being the sun/son.]

You can hear my review and read more about this week’s podcast here, or listen directly in iTunes here.

Oh, p.s. I forgot to post before: I was asked to make a Celebridot. This is a site celebrating the Peter Reynolds book The Dot, about making your mark, and the Celebridot site has dots made by…this feels weird to say…celebrities? Like I’m one of those? Whatever: I was honored to be asked and I had so much fun making my dot I can’t even tell you. My dot is all about the magical power of doodling. Go check it out!

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CATEGORIES: books

New Review on Brain Burps: How to Be a Cat

July 2, 2013

This week on Brain Burps About Books I review How to Be a Cat by Nikki McClure. I am so in love with the cut paper illustrations in this book, the simple text, the use of white space, and the cats’ expressions most of all. This book is gorgeous.

You can hear my review on this week’s episode of Brain Burps, or listen right in iTunes here.

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CATEGORIES: books

These are the consequences of diminished electronic usage

December 14, 2012

So, remember how I was hollering with love for Matthew Cordell’s HELLO! HELLO! last month? I have given this book to people, forced it on people, talked about how much I love it.

But you know what happens when you turn off electronic devices? I’ll tell you. Your kids have no idea how electronic devices work. Will this make them look like wingnuts in today’s society? Time will tell. My kids might look like wingnuts anyway.

Since we have been repeatedly reading Hello! Hello!:

  • Ramona asked me to help her turn on the Etch-a-Sketch.
  • The girls were pretending holiday cards were laptops. Ramona, while “looking for games” started to lick the “laptop.” Because I’m always tasting my computer and looking for games?
  • We got an old typewriter out of the basement.* The kids used the typewriter to write such messages as “we will take over email” and “twitter is now ours” (as well as “raw eggs are good” and “gummy bears are chasing me” so I’m not sure how much we can trust their world domination plans).

* We continue to give our children some kind of modified 1970s upbringing, between pencils and typewriters and our regular showings of Get Smart and Kung Fu. Plus I got them a vintage Spirograph for Christmas. I really hope we’re not harming them by withholding modern conveniences like Justin Bieber.

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CATEGORIES: books, Julie

Little Free Library in the News!

September 25, 2012

Our Little Free Library has been getting some press!

Telly Halkias wrote an opinion piece in the Portland Press Herald.

The local free paper, The Sentry, featured us in a great article.

And the fabulous Carter Higgins wrote about us on Design Mom!

Thanks so much to all our supporters! Stop on by and I’ll hook you up with a book!

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CATEGORIES: books

Little Free Library

August 20, 2012

Do you know about Little Free Library? The first time I heard about it, I had an immediate dream to have a Little Free Library of my own. The problem is that we have a house we’re constantly tearing apart, and four kids hanging from us needing some sort of parenting, and all those other life things, and taking the time out to make a little wooden box we’d fill with books seemed sort of frivolous. So I never mentioned it.

Then one day Dave and I were talking about community, and giving back, and teaching the kids about service, and suddenly I was rambling on, and on, about Little Free Libraries and how they embody all of my favorite notions of service: literacy, serving your immediate neighborhood, and fun and surprises where you don’t expect them (ok, I don’t think that last one is really a legitimate “notion of service,” but it’s one of my favorite things about life).

And Dave, wonder that he is, thought it was a great idea and started helping me build one the next day. We were able to use leftover shingles so it matches our house. We involved the kids as much as could in the design and building. And of course we had to put in a light — we get a lot of late-night dog walkers, and I wanted them to be able to pick books at midnight. (Another dream I didn’t know I had: the desire to give late-night dog walkers a way to choose books in the dark.)

I am so happy and proud about this. I’ve been spending a lot of time staring at the Little Free Library, hand over my heart, and sighing.

Plus it’s my first library job! I’ve got to put that MLS to use sometime!

Little Free Library | World of Julie

Little Free Library | World of Julie

Little Free Library | World of Julie

Little Free Library inside sticker | World of Julie

Here’s the sticker we designed for the inside. We made it so it looks like a library card in a pocket, but it’s got our address, and, under date due, says, “WHENEVER.”

Little Free Library at night | World of Julie

The Library at night.

If you’re in South Portland, stop on by! Little Free Library #2354 open and ready for reading!

CATEGORIES: books, Julie

Happy Birthday, Zuzu!

June 14, 2012

Today we fete Zuzu, who is now 4 (and also celebrate this fun brief time when, until August, we have kids who are 2, 4, 6, and 8 years old). We are making cherry cupcakes today, since apparently cherry cupcakes mean birthday. For her birthday dinner she requested:

  • meatballs
  • broccoli, for the people who want broccoli
  • carrots, for the people who want carrots, not me though, make sure you put down ‘NOT ZUZU’
  • smoothies
  • berries
  • salad for the grownups
  • bread with butter.

Sounds good to me. And I’ll leave you with this, which you’re going to have to view as a rare white unicorn glimpsed in the forest (I used to say “it’s like seeing Snuffleupagus” until I found out that now everyone can see Snuffleupagus). Zuzu often picks up a book, and reads it to herself in this incredibly hilarious (to us) fashion, making up the story based only loosely on the pictures and more on what people are saying near her at the time, and whatever else might be going through her head. We all, all of us, here, love watching her do this, BUT…if she knows she’s being watched, she stops immediately. Last week I saw her reading to herself in this manner, and tried to get a video, but I was too far away, and next to the humming aquarium, so you can’t really hear her. But you can get a sense of the drama involved, perhaps. (The drama of her reading, I mean.) (Though also maybe I mean the drama of stalking my children as I hide amongst the furniture, careful not to disturb them in their native habitat.)

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CATEGORIES: Julie

Book movers

May 16, 2012

Annoying thing that toddlers and preschoolers do:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

“We are playing house,” says Zuzu. I won’t even get into what this means for how they think I do my housekeeping.

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CATEGORIES: housekeeping, Ramona, Zuzu

Jonah Lehrer, and me!

May 15, 2012

Jonah Lehrer and I are on Brain Burps About Books today! Ok, ok, so we’re not on at the same time: Katie is interviewing Jonah Lehrer (author of Imagine: How Creativity Works), and (separately) I do a review of Nursery Rhyme Comics. I do think it’s perfect that Katie picked this review out of the ones of mine she has (did you know this about me? I love doing picture book reviews so much I send her bunches of them at a time, instead of just my required one-a-month), because Nursery Rhyme Comics is the most creative bit of creative creativeness that I’ve seen in forever. It’s brilliant.

You can see more information about this podcast episode here, or listen directly by clicking here.

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CATEGORIES: books

New Review on Brain Burps: Same, Same but Different

May 2, 2012

Check out the Brain Burps About Books podcast today to hear my review of Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw. I so, so love this story of pen pals, one in the U.S., and one in India. They compare and contrast their lives and cultures, and realize that they’re not all that different, even when they are. The illustrations are phenomenal. If, like me, you grew up on Big Blue Marble, you’ll totally get this book.

You can see all the info on the episode here, or you can listen directly (including Katie’s zippy new jingle) by clicking here. Enjoy!

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CATEGORIES: books
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