Category Archives: kidstuff

Patrick, Schmatrick

  Sure, you can celebrate today drinking green beer and singing “Danny Boy” and eating soda bread. IF YOU’RE LAME. But the cool kids spent the morning learning about ancient Egypt from a bunch of fairly adorable first graders. Best parts: 

  • The use of plastic garbage bags for linen tunics
  • Ninja grave robbers in King Tut’s tomb (no, really)
  • The poor kid squashed into a cardboard box to be the Sphinx
  • The incredibly awesome ancient Egyptian version of “Uptown Funk” that ended the performance (sample lyric: “E-gypt. Is so hot. Egypt is so hot.”)
  • Sylvia being inducted into the 100 book club

I fucking treasure elementary school showcases, I tell you what. And bless those teachers for finding the wherewithal to guide seething hordes of 6 and 7 year olds in such a creative endeavor. God knows I couldn’t do it. 

Lookit wot I did

Lookit. I made a sweater.

I’ve been knitting on and off (mostly off) since I was 12, and I think this is the first sweater I’ve actually completed all by myself. I adapted the pattern from one I got on The yarn is some old acrylic Lion Brand worsted weight called “Monet’s Garden” that I bought because I lovelovelove the colors. It was supposed to be for the Sprout, but because I’m lazy and hate figuring out my gauge, it turned out about twice as large as I’d intended it to. Which made it perfect for the Hatchling:

Which is nice, because now they can both wear it. Next up: some projects for the two babies soon to be welcomed into the extended family. (Not mine! Good God, not mine. Two of my sisters are knocked up. :-))

Plaything for a dud economy

Uses to which the Hatchling put a single piece of tissue paper over the course of an hour this evening:

1. Baby blanket for her doll.
2. Pillows for her head and her doll’s body as they lay on the carpet in a meditational pose. (Me: “What are you doing, honey?” The Hatchling: “I just wistening to my music.”
3. Changing pad/diaper, again for her doll.
4. Drape for Daddy’s foot.
5. Toreador-style hankie to wave in the air.
6. Thing to stuff up her shirt, look in the mirror, and try to find it again.
7. Sculptural material for found art project involving carefully removing tiny shreds of the tissue, balling them up, and placing/stacking them around/on the bigger sheet.
8. Elephant Man-style face mask, looking through the holes torn for the art project above.

And I probably missed some uses. I mean, christ: why did we spend all that money on awesome birthday presents when we could’ve just gotten her a damn box of kleenex?

Reticence is not her problem

Yesterday the Hatchling and I went to tour a possible preschool for her for fall (because, yes, you have to start at LEAST this far in advance if you want to get your choice, which is kind of giving me hives. Not to mention figuring out how we’ll pay for it, which is also giving me hives.) It was a great place, very welcoming and kid-friendly, a really nice director, great activities, etc. – I hope we can swing it, because the Hatchling would just thrive on it and it might keep me from losing my mind. Anyhoo. We we touring with another mom and little girl and let me tell you, they were a study in contrasts. The other girl, Grace, was very nice and friendly, but she also was perfectly happy to stay close to her mommy for the duration of the tour, a concept which the Hatchling completely fails to grasp. From the Hatchling’s perspective, this was clearly a place designed with her in mind, so why would she have any qualms about, you know, just joining in? She wouldn’t! We visited one classroom where they were having story time, and I whispered to the Hatchling that she had to be very quiet in this room, because other kids were listening to the story. Riiiiiiiight. She marched right up to the back of the group, sat down on the mat next to the nearest kid, and in her usual enthusiastic voice, said, “Hi, kids! What’s goin’ on?” I went over to try and shush her, and the little kid sitting next to her asked the teacher “Why are there some kids in here who don’t belong?”

I got her out of there without too much further disruption, and in the next room we visited, they were having open playtime, with lots of different stations for the kids to choose from. It was nicely chaotic and I imagine most normal children would have opted for Grace’s strategy of watching the action safely by her mother’s side. I, however, do not have a normal kid. The Hatchling zipped right into the middle of the room where a teacher was preparing some craft supplies, took the cup of glue and paintbrush out of the teacher’s hands, and started making her own collage. She was perfectly polite about it, she just wasn’t at all shy. The teacher looked up at me and said “she seems to be right at home!” and indeed, she did. It didn’t make for the most, uh, relaxing tour of the facilities, and I think Grace was appalled, but I guess it was good to see that the Hatchling would fit right in. I’m glad that she’s so outgoing – makes it easier to make friends – but I don’t know whether to be hopeful or fearful of the inevitable time(s) her friendly overtures are rejected. I don’t want her to steamroller over the other kids, but I know her little heart will be broken if someone doesn’t want to make friends with her. Sigh.

Cutest. Book. Ever.

I just found this new-ish Web 2.0 app, Lookybook, which I foresee using the crap out of over the next few years. They’ve scanned a ton of picture books into their server – not just excerpts, a la Amazon, but whole entire books – so you can preview them before you buy them. So extremely cool – because who has time to peruse picture books at the bookstore when your two-year-old is threatening to demolish the entire CD section? This site has lots of ways to search, and you can collect books on your personal bookshelf so you remember them, and … well, me likey, is what I’m saying. Here’s a book I found on the site that I have got to get for our library, because HOLY LIFE-THREATENING CUTENESS. Check it (click the eyes in the upper-right corner for a bigger verison):

It’s no wonder they get irritated

The Hatchling is at that point where her vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds (like, 4-5 new words a day, lately), but her pronunciation is lagging a little behind. Most of the time I can figure out what she’s trying to say from context, and she’s remarkably good natured when we can’t understand her, but I’m sure she occasionally wonders why we’re so stupid. Take, for example, last night. As a special treat, we’re watching some Noggin before she goes to bed, and they’re showing an episode of the Backyardigans, a show she hasn’t seen in a while. I’m showing off my knowledge of the character names to Mr. Squab (because I’m awesome like that) when the Hatchling starts pointing in the direction of the TV and saying “Bugga.”

The Hatchling: Bugga.

Mr. Squab (to me): What’s that mean?

Me: I have no idea.

The Hatchling: Bugga.

Mr. Squab: Bug?

The Hatchling: Bugga.

Mr. Squab: Bugger?

The Hatchling: BUGga.

Mr. Squab: Booger?

The Hatchling: BUGGA. Bugga. Bugga!

Stumped, we redirect her attention to something in the show. About five minutes later, a little light goes on over my head.

Me: Boo-boo, were you saying Backyardigans?

The Hatchling (looking at me, like, DUH): Yah. Bugga.

Really, she’s very patient with us.

Quote of the Day

Nine-year-old nephew, on getting ruthlessly laser-blasted as he makes his way through the new Simpsons video game:

“Dude. That does not bode well.”

Me: Did you just say ‘that does not bode well?’
Nephew: Yeah.
Me: Gimme five, dude.
Nephew (too cool for it, but complying): Why?
Me: Because I just don’t think many nine-year-olds would use that phrase.

Review: 101 Pep-Up Games for Children

So, in case you haven’t noticed it on the right-hand side, I’m a member of LibraryThing, which is this enormously satisfying way of cataloging one’s book collection online. Enormously satisfying for TOTAL NERDS like me, I mean. Oooh, I love me some book cataloging. Mmm-hmmm. And the only thing even more awesome than organizing my books online is getting free copies of books I’m interested in, so long as I review them. Free books = awesome. (Unless you’re Mr. Squab, who tells me every time we move that I should not be allowed to own more books than I’m willing to physically carry, myself, from one house to the next. To which my response is, that’s what professional movers are for!) So anyway, I got my first reviewer’s copy a few weeks ago, and what with siblings getting married and all, I didn’t get a chance to write the review until tonight. It’s posted at and LibraryThing, but I figgered I’d post it here, too. In case y’all are interested.

As a theatre director and professor, I’ve had ample opportunity to witness the usefulness of games for energizing and focusing groups of people. Now, as the mother of an extremely energetic one year old (one of her primary nicknames is the Energizer Bunny), I’m even more aware of the basic human need to *move* sometimes. Educational theory backs this up: kinesthetic learning is increasingly recognized as an important and valid learning style. (In my parenting group, our coordinator told us that some districts are even encouraging kids to chew gum late in the afternoons because the motion helps them focus!)

Along these lines, 101 Pep-up Games for Children is an excellent resource for moms, pre-school and grade-school teachers, daycare providers, and theatre folks like myself. The games are well-organized, making it easy to find the right kind of game for your specific purpose. They’re ordered from simplest (for the youngest children) to most complex (for kids aged 9-10 … or immature performer-types like myself). Each game is coded with clear icons delineating how many people the game is for, whether props or music are needed (mostly they’re not), whether the game is played outside, and whether or not there’s physical contact involved. There are also nice indexes in the back in case you want to find a game by name or requirement. Best of all, the games are simple to learn and play, and many incorporate learning concepts that make them easy to adapt to current classroom lesson plans.

One interesting note: the author is German and the book was originally published in Germany. For the most part the translation is seamless, but occasionally the cultural differences show in the “tips” included with certain games. (Suggesting that teachers light a peppermint scented candle to pep students up is one that I imagine would not be allowed in a lot of US classrooms.) Overall, this book is a great resource and one I’m sure I’ll turn to with my own kid and with future students and actors.

Friday Video Blogging

Ah, Friday. It’s funny how even though I no longer work a M-F/9-5 job, I still look forward to Fridays. Oh, wait, that’s not funny, IT JUST MAKES SENSE. Best part about Saturdays? Mr. Squab gets up with the Hatchling and I get to sleep in. I will NEVER grow out of that.

Anyhoo. Here are our weekly video recommendations. The Hatchling recommends:

Be sure you watch until the end – it’s the cutest.

The Mamala recommends:

Mummenschanz made a HUGE impression on me as a young kid. Their playfulness, expressive use of movement and innovative masks are still captivating to me. In a lot of ways, they epitomize my favorite kind of entertainment: material that’s equally kid- and adult-friendly. Hope you like it!

This one hits home

Things You Didn’t Put On Your Resumé
by Joyce Sutphen

How often you got up in the middle of the night
when one of your children had a bad dream,

and sometimes you woke because you thought
you heard a cry but they were all sleeping,

so you stood in the moonlight just listening
to their breathing, and you didn’t mention

that you were an expert at putting toothpaste
on tiny toothbrushes and bending down to wiggle

the toothbrush ten times on each tooth while
you sang the words to songs from Annie, and

who would suspect that you know the fingerings
to the songs in the first four books of the Suzuki

Violin Method and that you can do the voices
of Pooh and Piglet especially well, though

your absolute favorite thing to read out loud is
Bedtime for Frances and that you picked

up your way of reading it from Glynnis Johns,
and it is, now that you think of it, rather impressive

that you read all of Narnia and all of the Ring Trilogy
(and others too many to mention here) to them

before they went to bed and on way out to
Yellowstone, which is another thing you don’t put

on the resumé: how you took them to the ocean
and the mountains and brought them safely home.