Monday, December 20, 2010
"They're pretty and furry but you wouldn't want to piss one off.
Also, they have their babies in twos."
Nye, on polar bears and why they might be my spirit animal.*
Bears, by Little Love Blue
*his is the meerkat. Also those monkeys that like swimming. He's a Gemini.
Monday, December 13, 2010
When my mum was here last week we took the babies on their first shopping trip, it wasn't as painful as I might have expected. Mostly because Nye spent the day standing in doorways with the pushchair while my mum and I squawked over baby clothes and toys and hats and shoes and and and... Needless to say we enjoyed ourselves more than Nye did. And the babies? They slept all day.
Despite all the cuteness and all of the covetables there was very little that I came away well, coveting. These t-shirts (for grown ups, not babies. Ooh, they should make baby ones. Definitely) by Brat and Suzie that I stumbled across in La La Land have been calling to me since I saw them though, especially the motorcycling squirrel. And hello bunny and stripes, I love you.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Did I imply that I have stopped wondering what babies are for because I now know? Uh, no.I just added them to that list of things that are beyond me. Alongside gravity, inflation and why Nye puts his dirty socks down the side of the sofa.Sorry.*N's dad isn't sure what babies are for either.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Hello. Babies are hard work, did you know? I thought I knew but I didn't. People told me and I listened, honestly I did, it's just.... well....
It's getting easier though.
The babies sleep sometimes, mostly during the day. Sometimes they sleep at night too. Nye looks after them from 12am until 6am so that I can sleep, which is nice.They eat a lot. Combined they spend ten hours a day eating. Ten hours!We go out nearly every day (I would go insane otherwise.) Some days we go to our nearby park with the baby carriers, some days with the pushchair. Other days we go to our far away park and we take them to see the horses. We've also been to the cinema and the shops and the museum and a cafe. We've played in the snow a lot. There have been snowballs and icy toes and snowflakes on the tiniest of noses.It's been fun.I ran down a hill last week. My stomach felt like a Shar Pei in a wind tunnel.My mum has visited, so has my Gran and Nye's parents. We've left the babies with a babysitter and gone out twice now. The first time we forgot to take a phone with us. Or tell my inlaws where we were going. We felt a little like bad parents. But not much.The second time we went to see Harry Potter at the cinema. I missed my 9pm nap. Come midnight I'm not very nice if I've missed my 9pm nap.It's been two weeks since I envied people who have no desire to procreate. It's also been two weeks since I wondered a) what babies are for, b) why people want them, c) if we made the biggest mistake of our lives getting pregnant or d) where my passport is.I have a new-found understanding for women who abandon their children. I don't plan to abandon my children, but I am no longer appalled by those who do. Babies are hard.The first two weeks are especially hard. And you can't ask your husband where your passport is because then he'll know and he'll lock the door. Or tell the health visitor on you.But then it passes and one day you realise that you're enjoying yourself and that maybe you don't want to leave any more and the babies look right at you and it's almost as if they can see you. And it's wonderful.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
My bestest blog girl Jamie has just launched her new custom stationary website, Cactus and Quail, and you need to be going there right now to admire the pretties, buy the notecards and covet the trinkets. Jamie is offering fully custom designed invitation suites, ready-made illustrations that can be used in a variety of ways and a flea-market where she is selling her small, limited edition creations.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
The Spirit Is Too Blunt an Instrument
The spirit is too blunt an instrument
to have made this baby.
Nothing so unskilful as human passions
could have managed the intricate
exacting particulars: the tiny
blind bones with their manipulating tendons,
the knee and the knucklebones, the resilient
fine meshings of ganglia and vertebrae,
the chain of the difficult spine.
Observe the distinct eyelashes and sharp crescent
fingernails, the shell-like complexity
of the ear, with its firm involutions
concentric in miniature to minute
ossicles. Imagine the
infinitesimal capillaries, the flawless connections
of the lungs, the invisible neural filaments
through which the completed body
already answers to the brain.
Then name any passion or sentiment
possessed of the simplest accuracy.
No, no desire or affection could have done
with practice what habit
has done perfectly, indifferently,
through the body's ignorant precision.
It is left to the vagaries of the mind to invent
love and despair and anxiety
and their pain.
by Anne Stevenson
Anne Stevenson, "The Spirit is Too Blunt an Instrument" from Poems 1955-2005.
* Ella and Amelia, 8 days old
Monday, November 22, 2010
Poem for a Daughter
"I think I'm going to have it,"I said, joking between pains.The midwife rolled competentsleeves over corpulent milky arms."Dear, you never have it, we deliver it."A judgment years proved true.Certainly I've never had youas you still have me, Caroline.Why does a mother need a daughter?Heart's needle, hostage to fortune,freedom's end. Yet nothing's more perfectthan that bleating, razor-shaped crythat delivers a mother to her baby.The bloodcord snaps that heldtheir sphere together. The child,tiny and alone, creates the mother.A woman's life is her ownuntil it is taken awayby a first particular cry.Then she is not alonebut part of the premisesof everything there is:a time, a tribe, a war.When we belong to the worldwe become what we are.
From Anne Stevenson
Poems 1955 - 2005
©2005 Bloodaxe Books
*Ella, 5 days old. By Nye.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Monday, November 01, 2010
There are some names you just can't reclaim.
These all appear on the list of forenames given in Scotland last year. Some of them more than once.
Although.... I'm thinking there are some great twin pairings there - Chanel & Chardonnay has a certain ring to it. And Mercedes & Lexus would make quite the duo.
There are some amazing names on there too, Iteoluwakishi for one. And Oluwafioyonsolami. Maybe I'll suggest them to N.
And then there's my personal favourite, Heavenleigh. You know, like Heavenly, but with LEIGH on the end! Genius.
I really feel for Laiba though. Actually, I feel for all ten Laibas. They're going to have a world of fun when they reach high school Biology class.
A friend of my uncle's worked in Glasgow circa 1995. She was a GP. There were five Pocahontas' (Pocahonti?) on her books.
I heart Scotland.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Deciding on names for the babies has been hard work. Picking one name was fine, fun even, it didn't take long before there was one that jumped out at us as just right. But then we had to pick another, one that didn't clash with the first but also didn't match it too closely (Emma and Gemma, Chloe and Zoe, Celia and Delia, Aimie and Jamie were all big on the web. I'll let you guess for yourself what we thought.)
But pick one we did. Eventually. But not without some enlightening discussion along the way. For example N had no idea that I liked names with so many syllables (Boy is seriously dyslexic and vetoed anything he couldn't spell. Bye bye Persephone and Ciorstaidh) and I had no idea he would be such a gigantic pain in the ass about names that 'belonged' to someone or something else.
There was a name that I loved but it just so happened to also belong to a national chef who was big about 10 years ago. N said he would never be able to hear the name without thinking of her. I told him that was rubbish and that within days of having our babies that name would be nothing but our baby's name, that he and everyone else would forget about that other one. He said I was wrong.
So I used the example of a friend who has a little girl who has an amazing name which also happens to be the name of a brand of beer. I told him that from a few days from her birth whenever I heard that name I thought of her and nothing else, and he did too, right? Wrong. Apparently he will always and forever hear 'beer. Crap beer' when her name is mentioned. WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM?
I would have happily called our girls both of these names, I love these names and the fact that they 'belonged' to other people or things would never have crossed my mind. To me they're just great names and I would reclaim them in an instant.
What think you? Can you reclaim a name once it's gained recognition as a national or international brand or personality? Would you hear 'beer' or would you hear your dear friend's sweet kid's name whenever someone mentioned Stella?
* photo by Dave Knapik
Thursday, October 28, 2010
*thanks to Marie-Ève for sending me to the above post. Do you read Marie-Ève? You should. She's wise and witty and she writes proper posts (particularly about pregnancy and motherhood) that you know, have more than one sentence and provoke thoughts and teach you stuff. As opposed to just sharing fun facts about nipple texture and engorged vaginas. She's also expecting a little girl in just a few weeks, a little girl to join her little boy LP (which doesn't stand for Little Person by the way) and has been, along with Cate, my pregnancy guru and hand holder.** yes, I'm still here and I'm still pregnant. And still really quite pissed off about that. Last week I thought I might be having babies but it turned out I was having a kidney infection instead.IMAGE BY LOUVECIENNES
Friday, October 15, 2010
Almost. My mother was a veterinary nurse, it's similar. Replace lions with Rottweilers. And angry cats. And once there was an owl, I don't think he was angry though.I would like to be a lion tamer.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Tomorrow will be 35 weeks. I'm still pregnant. Apparently this is a good thing.Tell that to my back and my abdominal muscles and our bed which is creaking under my weight. And to me who is tired and in pain and really pissed off at only sleeping in 20 minute bursts because my muscles ache so damn much.
We've been playing this really fun game called Do You Think That Means the Babies Are Coming? It goes like this:"My tummy's gone really tight, do you think that means the babies are coming?""I only slept for 3 hours last night, do you think that means the babies are coming?""I've got the runs, do you think that means the babies are coming?"Repeat ad nauseam throughout the day.It's kind of a one sided game. N thinks it's silly and that I'll 'probably know' when I'm having the babies. Apparently it's not the sort of thing that one usually misses. Also, he says they can't come yet because the house is NOT READY. Well, I'm glad that's sorted then.* photos by N
Friday, October 08, 2010
Today we have the last of Amanda's posts on books for littles. Of course, the littles have grown since Monday, they're not so little any more....
For the Slightly Bigger
For sneaking flashlights ‘neath warm sheets.
The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily, Dino Buzzati/Frances Lobb (translator)
KING LEANDER. He is the King of the Bears, the son of a King who in turn had a King as a father. He is therefore a bear of most ancient lineage. He is tall, strong, valiant, virtuous, and intelligent too, though not as intelligent as all that. We hope you will like him.
The Phantom Tollbooth, Norman Juster/Jules Feiffer
Attached to one side was a bright-blue envelope which said simply: “FOR MILO, WHO HAS PLENTY OF TIME.”
Half Magic, Edward Eager/N.M. Bodeker
A book about four sensible children who enjoy both libraries and the books of one E. Nesbit. Also covers such subjects as borrowing money from another’s pocketbook and accidental arson.
Boy, Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake
Dead mice in candy jars and goat poo in pipes.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake
A boy who talks to animals and magic of every other sort.
Matilda, Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake
Our heroine reads many great books, outwits several cruel adults, and composes at least one limerick. Also, a small and charming cottage.
The Witches, Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake
For children who hope to survive into adulthood, the most important book of them all.
The Magician’s Elephant, Kate DiCamillo/Yoko Tanaka
Leo Matienne had the soul of a poet, and because of this, he liked very much to consider questions that had no answers.
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread, Kate DiCamillo/Timothy Basil Ering
He drank the soup in big, noisy gulps. And when he stepped out of the saucer, his paws were damp and his whiskers were dripping and his stomach was full.
Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh
A book with a surfeit of tomato sandwiches.
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean
There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away … She didn’t like discomfort; even picnics were untidy and inconvenient: all those insects and the sun melting the icing on the cupcakes.
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
It was a dark and stormy night.
The Willoughbys, Lois Lowry
Their father, an impatient and irascible man, went to work at a bank each day, carrying a briefcase and an umbrella even if it was not raining. Their mother, who was indolent and ill-tempered, did not go to work. Wearing a pearl necklace, she grudgingly prepared the meals. Once she read a book but found it distasteful because it contained adjectives.
His Dark Materials series, Phillip Pullman
All of the best things of any worlds exist in these three books.
The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
The Halloween moon was full. Except for her receding chin Turtle Wexler looked every inch the witch, her dark unbraided hair streaming wild in the wind from under her peaked hat, a putty wart pasted on her small beaked nose.
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket/Brett Helquist
In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. This is because not very many happy things happened in the lives of the three Baudelaire youngsters … I am sorry to tell you this, but that is how the story goes.
The Wonderful O, James Thurber/Marc Simont
Pirates ban the letter O. Hrrible, wnderful things ensue.
The 13 Clocks, James Thurber/Marc Simont
His hands were as cold as his smile and almost as cold as his heart. He wore gloves when he was asleep, and he wore gloves when he was awake, which made it difficult for him to pick up pins or coins or the kernals of nuts, or to tear the wings from nightingales.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Before we continue with Amanda's recommendations I would like to share the suggestions I sent her for what age group each post covers, just so you know and don't get too antsy pantsy if your favourite isn't mentioned yet!
1) books for when littles are too little to know what you're reading to them but they like it anyway
2) books for littles who understand the words now and will use the books to start to learn to read once they're big enough for that sort of thing
3) books for childrens who have just learnt to read and will hide under the bed for days on end reading the books if they are not dragged out by their ears for dinner.
And over to Amanda...
For aloud and together, with clean ears and toes.
Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmens
She was not afraid of mice—she loved winter, snow, and ice. To the tiger in the zoo, Madeline just said “Pooh-pooh.”
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, Doreen Cronin/Betsy LewinAn important first book about animal rights and the dangers/merits of typewriters.
Esio Trot, Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake
A book about using deception and pet exploitation to turn unrequited love on its head.
James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake
A small boy guilty of murder flees the United Kingdom with several large insects, a surfeit of seagulls, and approximately 24 pairs of boots.
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, Ingri d’Aulaire, Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
Zeus and Hera, mortals, seas.
Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, Kate DiCamillo/Chris Van Dusen
One of many marvelous tales of a porcine wonder and her fondness for warm toast with a great deal of butter. Read all of these. Aloud. With great vigor.
The Giggler Treatment, Roddy Doyle/Brian Ajhar
A book primarily about poo, this volume also contains important information about biscuits and the Ways of Dogs.
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, Julie EdwardsThis book, like so many children’s books, begins in a zoo. Whether it will end in one I cannot say.
Teatro Olivia, Ian Falconer
Not a book at all, but a children’s theatre with sets and programs and at least one prima donna. Particularly adept directors and their parents may also enjoy Olivia. Then again, they may not.
The Happy Lion, by Louise Fatio
A French lion out for a stroll wonders where everyone’s manners have gone.
My Father’s Dragon, Ruth Stiles Gannett
Lessons on the art of provisioning abound.
George and Martha: The Complete Stories About Two Great Friends, James Marshall
Martha was very fond of making pea soup. Sometimes she made it all day. Pots and pots of pea soup.
Now We Are Six, A.A. Milne
We went to all the places which a beetle might be near,
And we made the sort of noises which a beetle likes to hear
Amos and Boris, William Steig
A book about the importance of networking in unexpected places.
The Big Orange Splot, Daniel Pinkwater
A man infuriates his neighborhood association and encourages others to do the same.
The Stars, H.A. Rey
For those who watch the sky.
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
A book about mischief, wolves, and supper.
The Sneetches and Other Stories, Dr. Seuss
This book provides many with the rare but thrilling opportunity to holler “Oliver Boliver Butt.”
Ounce Dice Trice, Alastair Reid/Ben Shahn
Lists, including words to be said when grumpy, names for insects, and rude names for nitwits.
Squids Will Be Squids, Jon Scieszka/Lane Smith
A book about squids and their natures as well as notes on fable-writing, the dangers of.
Many Moons, James Thurber/Marc Simont
Parents are reminded to avoid grand, somewhat idiotic promises and we are all reminded of the uselessness of mathematicians and the dangers of raspberry tarts.
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, Chris Van Allsburg
It is important that you buy this book immediately. That is all.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst
There were limas for dinner and I hate limas. There was kissing on TV and I hate kissing.
Sector 7, David Wiesner
In which we become aware of the kidnapping tendencies and secret lair of cloud formations. Their trickery includes teaching small boys to levitate.
Flotsom, David Wiesner
Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White/Garth Williams
The best book I know.
Piggie and Elephant books, Mo Willems
These books about the marvels of interspecies friendship include at least one helpful discussion on how to dress appropriately for a party.
* first photo by Cassia Beck
* second photo by Thomas Krauss
* third photo by Little Love Blue
* fourth photo by Frederick Desmots
Monday, October 04, 2010
Other parents-to-be get excited about buying tiny clothes or wooden toys or colourful nursery decorations for their little people and those things have tickled me intermittently, but books have been tickling us constantly since the first moment we sat down together on the floor of a children's book shop and started pulling things off every shelf.Sitting there in a pile of books for children of every age we became completely overwhelmed. We put back every book and left the shop empty handed. As the door swung shut behind us I turned to N and said in a slightly broken voice "maybe we should ask Amanda what to buy?"And so we did.Amanda is a writer of poetry, a seer of wonder, an adventurer of adventures and a whisperer of children and here, in the first of a series ofguest posts, is what she has to say about books for little people.....This is how it is for me: Of all the books, I am most fond of those written for children. It has been this way from the very beginning, and I have begun to suspect that it will be this way until the end as well. I spend a lot of time thinking about childhood and about witches and bears, and I believe that the stories must be told; we are set free so early by words and their sounds and meanings, by tales of mortals, voyages, wings feathered and waxed.By no means exhaustive, what follows is a small collection of what I very humbly (if superlatively) consider to be the Best Books, and what I would recommend for Peonies in particular--for her sweet and clever and aesthetically discerning family. Beware that some solid contenders have been excluded; it is clear, for instance, that Peonies and her Boy and Rabbit will inundate their girls with the tales of Edward Bear, and I’m sure we’re all well aware that Eloise the City Child and Paddington from Darkest Peru cannot help but invite themselves into the lives of children who need them.At the end of a day with small children, it has often been a long day even if it hasn’t. At the end of a day with small children, each of us needs stories to bring us home, send us off. If I were choosing books at the end of such a day, exhausted, and if children I love had been soaped and dried and jammied and if everyone had the wriggles and if there was a cool breeze and a warm duvet, these are the books I would choose. They are just-up-from-a-nap, bring-me-a-book reads; let’s-lie-in-our-fort-with-a-flashlight reads; goodnight, sleep tight reads. They are some of the best books I know.So. Three small collections to be pulled off the shelves, with any luck by the sticky-fingered among us: for the very small, for littles, and for the slightly bigger too. I hope you will enjoy them.
For the Very Small
Dogs and apples, tigers, mush.
Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown/Clement Hurd
In the great green room there was a telephone, and a red balloon, and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon.
The Big Red Barn, Margaret Wise Brown/Felicia Bond
By the big red barn in the great green field, there was a pink pig who was learning to squeal.
The Important Book, Margaret Wise Brown/Leonard Weisgard
The important thing about rain is that it is wet. It falls out of the sky, and it sounds like rain, and makes things shiny, and it does not taste like anything, and is the color of air. But the important thing about rain is that it is wet.
Two Little Trains, Margaret Wise Brown/Leo and Diane Dillon
Two little trains went down the track, Two little trains went West.
Puff, Puff, Puff and Chug, Chug, Chug, Two little trains to the West.
Little Cloud, Eric Carle
In which we learn that some clouds need more attention than other clouds.
Go, Dog. Go!, P.D. Eastman
In which very many dogs do very many things. Some of them go. Others do not.
The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
He walked with his toes pointed out, like this:
A Family of Poems, Caroline Kennedy (editor)/Jon J. Muth
For beginning children on poetry before anyone can ruin it for them; Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams sing beside Dylan Thomas and Ogden Nash.
Pat the Bunny, Dorothy Kunhardt
In which the reader regards a handsome rabbit with solemnity. Sometimes the rabbit deigns to be patted. Sometimes he does not.
A Hole is to Dig, Ruth Krauss/Maurice Sendak
Mashed potatoes are to give everybody enough A face is so you can make faces Dogs are to kiss people
It Looked Like Spilt Milk, Charles G. Shaw
Sometimes it looked like spilt milk. But it wasn’t spilt milk.
Sometimes it looked like a rabbit. But it wasn’t a rabbit.
Chicken Soup With Rice, Maurice Sendak
The reader is introduced to the seasonal joys of chicken soup with rice.
In the Night Kitchen, Maurice Sendak
Milk in the batter! Milk in the batter! We bake cake! And nothing’s the matter!
Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business, Esphyr Slobodkina
In which we learn one of life’s most important lessons: When up against monkeys, it is helpful to lose one’s temper almost immediately. Also, it is unwise to nap beneath monkey-infested trees.
A Child’s Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson
The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.
A Tree Is Nice, Janice May Udry/Marc Simont
A tree is nice because it has a trunk and limbs.
Piggies, Audrey Wood/Don Wood
Various piggies are portrayed. We sometimes wonder why these piggies are drawn as fingers and not as toes. Other times we do not.
* first image from Lola's Room
* third image by Simple Tess