Monday, January 31, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
2. A baby's first all night sleep will invariable coincide with the insomnia of another family member.
Monday, January 24, 2011
I’ve started this post several times on the screen, and more than that in my head, wondering what I should pick as my second Book of the Week (courtesy of Suburban Sonnet). After too much mind-changing I’ve finally settled on….
(Yes, I HAVE settled on it. No more changes now.)
We have all become big Julia Donaldson fans here. First there was The Gruffalo and Toddle Waddle. Thanks to his birthday and Christmas, Little Bro now has an expanded and very popular collection filed in the “D” section. (No, not really.) Big Bro is also a fan, but Little Bro is obsessed. And B and I don’t mind the books, so they keep getting read
, and not lost under the couch. No don't admit to that..
The illustrations by Axel Scheffler, who has illustrated many of the Julia Donaldson books, are bright and detailed, and it was no wonder that The Snail and the Whale repeatedly receives Little Bro’s highest honour- “read it again!”
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Big Bro and I finished reading James and the Giant Peach last week, and with the finale of the peach's skewering on the Empire State Building and the seed ending up in Central Park as James' house. I suggested we learnt a bit more about New York this week. We managed a bit less than I had planned as Big Bro wasn't well in the middle of the week, but still learnt a bit- certainly enough for Little Bro-the-parrot to exclaim "wook, Empire State Building" as we walked through the (Melbourne) city.
To learn about New York landmarks we looked at photos B and I had taken on trips to New York, and watched a few YouTube clips, including:
This sight-seeing montage set to New York, New York - the boys enjoyed the limousines and black town cars.
The Wiggles' Central Park
New York State of Mind by Alicia Keys
We also watched clips of On the Town, which for whatever reason can't be embedded- but it did bring back memories of the D-Gen's Late Show spoof of the song (which is embeddable)
We also located some New York coloring pages and downloaded paper models of New York landmarks from a cool free site called Paper Toys- including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. These four structures, plus Central Park seem to be the top five recognizable New York landmarks.
We were going to make a few New York foods, but illness and time got in the way. In the end we used the leftover frankfurters from last week to make hot dogs in honour of the ubiquitous street hot dog carts, and didn't make Waldorf salad or a New York cheesecake, or have a bagel at the New York Bagelry. I got stuck with New York picture books- any recommendations?
It certainly wasn't an exhaustive study- which isn't the idea- but more a hope that in the future if Big Bro hears mention of New York he'll have an idea of what's there. B is off to New York later in the year so it will be a good test of what has stuck.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Our next adventure was Joan Robinson's About Teddy Robinson. It's a collection of short stories about the adventures of a girl and her apparently-alive bear. They're nice mundane real-life adventures like going to a party or shopping, which children can relate to. Teddy Robinson was a big success, but unfortunately it seems to be out of print so I am still stalking eBay looking for copies that aren't priced for the "collectors' edition" market.
Next on the menu was a return to Enid Blyton- The Enchanted Wood, which is the first of the Faraway Tree series. Jo, Bessie and F(r)anny (the "r" is a post-1980s inclusion) and their friends Moon Face and Silkie have adventures in a magical tree that is a bridge to other lands. It's the same formula as The Wishing Chair, but often the adventures span several chapters. Big Bro initially lost track of some stories, but by the time we launched into books 2 and 3 he had the idea of the multi-chapter story, and was disappointed when it finished. There are heaps of other Enid Blytons I think he'd enjoy- and from my childhood collection and second hand bookshops I've accumulated a queue that includes Mr Pinkwhistle, Bimbo and Topsy and the various Tales... short stories. However, I've been trying to mix them up with other authors so we don't turn into exclusively Enid readers (which is tempting given how many of her books I loved!)
After The Enchanted Wood we tested the Winnie the Pooh water. The first couple of chapters were alright, but even I got a bit lost in the subtleties of the next chapters and it remains half read next to Big Bro's bed. A.A.Milne's children's poetry was much more of a success, and thanks to Lines and Squares Big Bro is "ever so careful to watch (his) feet" whenever he walks on a Melbourne street.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Postscript: there is a great response, also in the WSJ.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Feeling winded after a particularly punch-in-the-gut week, it's good to have a focus on the positive with my regular Maxabella-inspired Grateful Post.
With mention of deaths of friends and husbands in the blogosphere, and the shock of the Queensland floods, by Thursday I was definitely feeling grateful for the basics- a dry house and a loving and healthy circle of family and friends. On Friday I was grateful that the two personal stories of the Brishbane floods that I had been following ended- in both cases- about 2cm on the side of relief. One of the stories was via The House That A-M Built- I felt terrible on Friday to be checking a blog that is supposed to be about building beautiful homes, expecting mention of the destruction of a home. It was a little ray of sunshine through a dark cloud to read about a near miss.
I'm also grateful for 24 Hour Viruses- not that seeing your child go from healthy to listless and a 40 degree fever in 2 hours is anything good, but to see him pull out as suddenly the next day is something to be grateful for. I just don't know how parents of chronically ill children cope.
Coming up next week (whether I blog about them or not is another matter): the end if a career-era and a childcare era, the attack if the mystery seeds, how rockets make fire, and perhaps even a ripe tomato. And Lego Brickventures- bring it on!!
Friday, January 14, 2011
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I'm not a fan of the soapie, but I am a big fan of neighbours. I love our house and garden, but what money couldn't buy was landing in an altogether friendly pocket of suburbia. As well as lovely adults, there is a bunch of kids around our boys' ages with whom I'm looking forward to them growing up. And it's the sort of street, without us being overly chummy and all over each other, that there's no shame in asking a neighbour to collect your mail or feed the chooks.
The patriarch of the block is an elderly Sicilian gentleman (any lesser descriptor wouldn't be appropriate) who has been in the neighborhood for years (and spread his loquat seeds) who knows everything there is about everything. He's our real estate sales reporter, neighborhood watch and voluntary handyman, sometimes to the point of embarrassment: he ended up showing up, goods in hand, to fix our fence, then wouldn't accept a bottle of wine (he makes his own), or a cake (no good for his cholesterol).
Our next door neighbours were away for a few days after Christmas and asked us to put their bins out, and help ourselves to their ripe tomatoes. Good deal... until their bins migrated to the street without our input. Ok, we were too slow. Then, early the next morning as the boys and I waved to the garbage truck we caught a glimpse of the Sicilian rocket whiz out his gate in the truck's wake and return our neighbours' bins to their yard, still warm from the garbage truck's exhaust. With a small splutter I wondered, who needs good neighbors when you've got the Super Neighbour?
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Holidays for me used to mean time to read. School holidays were my time for indulgent reads, like starting The Famous Five at book number one, and aiming for book 21. These days my hopes are a lot more sedate- like "read an entire book"- but I like to imagine that one day holidays will again be "time to read".
I'm not really one for memes, but these two came up in Facebook and I felt enthused about responding (apologies to those for whom I'm double dipping!)
Fifteen Authors in Fifteen minutes
Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.
1 Enid Blyton (anyone want to discuss the intricate plot details of the Famous Five? I am still excited to find an original Blyton I hadn't read- though not the crummy spin-offs!)
2 Alexander McCall Smith (I live from one Scotland Street instalment to the next)
3 Jane Austen
4 Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, Animal Vegetable Miracle)
5 Neil Campbell (Biology)
6 Nigella Lawson
7 Vikram Seth (I could read all 1000 pages of A Suitable Boy any day)
8 Bill Bryson (lots are good, but Made in America especially)
9 Cynthia Voigt
10 Thomas Hardy
11 Lewis Carrol (esp the Jabberwocky, Hit your baby when he sneezes)
12 DH Lawrence (Snake)
13 Samuel Shem (The House of God- B said "read this and you'll understand what I've been through")
14 Laura Ingals Wilder
15 Three way tie between CS Lewis or EB White or JK Rowling... not convinced which should be here and I am sure I have forgotten someone else!!!)
Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. (I add that if you like Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens and/or Jane Austen you get immediate bonus points as they're represented at a high frequency.)
I've bolded the books I've read in their entirety, and italicized the ones I started but didn't finish, or read an excerpt.
1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (all)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton (and just read them all to Big Bro!)
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo