Friday, February 24, 2006

Never Let Me Go

No, I didn't finish two novels last night. I'm a little behind in posting my reading, so I'm catching up while Jack naps. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiurgo was on several best of 2006 lists, so I decided to check it out. I knew only a little bit about it - that it dealt with students at a school called Hailsham who were somehow special. I'm glad I didn't know more about it, because I think I experienced the book in a more pure way. Just as the students at Hailsham kind of understood what made them special, I kind of understood. And the characters in the book and I understood the full implications of that only later on. Heavy stuff.

The narrator of the book, Kathy H., has the perfect voice for this story. Kathy has a very matter of fact way of talking about things, using her world's phrases like Carers, Donors, and Guardians as if we all live in her world. It's Kathy's mild tone and world view that make what we realize about her life and the lives of her friends all the more horrifying.

This book gave me a lot to think about. I am planning on passing it to Steve as soon as possible so he can read it and we can talk about it. This is one that's going to stick with me.

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life

Encyclopeida of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is exactly what the title suggests. And, as the book jacket further explains, "I have not survived against all odds. I have not lived to tell. I have not witnessed the extraordinary. This is my story." Just like an encyclopedia, this book is made up of alphabetical entries, but all about mundane things in Amy's life. There's an entry about how can never remember which side of the car her gas tank is on. One about stuff that confused her as a kid. And, my favorite, one in which she tries to use karma as a reason to get out of a parking ticket (it works).

The subjects are mundane, but Amy's observations about them are dead-on and often hilarious. I read the book from A-Z, but in the future, I can imagine picking up the book and dipping into it at random to enjoy an entry or two. Thoroughly enjoyed this.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


It's official: Jack can say "Mama." Unfortunately, he does not say Mama in reference to the beautiful woman who gave birth to him after three days of labor. Mama means "more" or "I want it."

It's rather disturbing to consider the implications of Mama as a demand, isn't it?

I am working with him to change MAMA to "more." Jack will point at a banana and yell, "Mama!" and I'll say, "More?" and indicate said banana. So far, this has had no result whatsoever.

More suprisingly, Jack inexplicably knows a sign. Many years ago, Steve had a brief job working for the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. While he worked with the Deaf kids, he picked up some signs. One was the sign for "more." You hold out your hands, palms up, and move your fingers towards you, in sort of an ass-grabbing motion. We noticed this weekend that Jack signs "more" while he says it.

Many parents attempt to help their babies communicate by teaching them a few signs. The logic is that they can talk that way before they can verbalize. This helps them express their needs and reduces their frustration. It's a fine idea, but the thing is, Steve and I never did that. Did they teach him sign language at school? It's a possibility, but you'd think that if sign was part of the program there (like Spanish), someone would have mentioned it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sugar is sweet, and so are you

So, I picked Jack up at school yesterday. His shirt (which had a big red heart and said HANDSOME DEVIL on it) had all kinds of streaks of icing on it from his Valentine's Day party. As soon as he saw me, he ran over, yelling, and gave me a hug. Then he ran away, laughing his wee baby head off. I then had to chase him around the room to get his coat on. I literally cornered him, and he laughed and shrieked while I put his coat on. He then giggled and squirmed while I tried to put him in his car seat. At home, he pretty much just ran around the house yelling until he crashed at 7:30 and went to sleep. When I gave him a kiss, he actually smelled like cookies. He was so, so funny. I think it's fair to say that Jack really likes Valentine's Day.

I read an article in a magazine about some schools that try to discourage or even ban sugary treats for holidays and birthdays. Bah. Yes, obesity is a huge problem with American kids, but it's not because kids get cupcakes on birthdays. It's because they sit on their butts drinking Cokes and playing videogames. As long as treats are treats and not an everyday thing, I have no problem with it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Jack's New Pal

The Cub and I were watching Sesame Street last night, and as usual, he got really excited when Elmo's World came on. I got out our Elmo puppet, and Jack got a big smile on his face. He gave Elmo a drink of water from his sippy cup, then gave Elmo a big kiss. He is quite the affectionate little guy lately.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Valentine's Day is coming

Last night, as soon as I got home, Steve told me that Jack's class is having a Valentine's Day party. He will be bringing Valentines (likely Spider-Man) to all of his friends, but more importantly, there is a sign-up sheet on the door for parents to volunteer to bring treats. Two parents had already volunteered and were bringing Jell-O and cupcakes. Steve felt it was very important that "we" sign up right away so that all of the good stuff wasn't taken already. This amused me, since I do believe that we all know, per official Stately Wasser Manor Division Of Labor, I will be in charge of whatever treats Jack brings.

I signed up for sugar cookies. I have a nice set of heart-shaped cookie cutters, and it would be a shame to let them, and an opportunity to stuff a bunch of 1-2 year old kids with icing and sprinkles, go to waste. The only question remaining is if I get ambitious enought to actually decorate the cookies beyond icing and sprinkles. A perverse part of me is tempted to put each kid's name on his or her cookie. Time will tell if, on February 13, I actualy feel ambitious enough to do this.

Speaking of cookies, we watched part of an episode of Sesame Street last night. I think that Cookie Monster is getting funnier. He showed us the Letter of the Day cookie (F) and said, "Now, usually, me try not to eat Letter of Day cookie. But me always eat cookie. Me know it. You know it. Today, me not try to do otherwise." Cookie Monster then invited us, "Step into me office." There, he had an easel on which he drew a copy of the Letter of the Day cookie "So that you get educational opportunity and me get delicious cookie." Brilliant! Of course, Cookie Monster ended up eating both the cookie and his cookie drawing, but I still appreciate his efforts.