Holiday Gift Guide | 2015

The Twelve Days of Christmas - Alison Jay
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling, illustrated - Jim Kay
Grandma's House - Alison Melvin
The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune - P. J. Lynch
Alice's Adventure in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll, illustrated - Anna Bond
Twelve Kinds of Ice - Ellen Bryan Obed, illustrated - Barbara McClintock


El Deafo

This week in our home, El Deafo cannot be stopped. Ever since I pulled it out of the library bag it has been in constant circulation.  Myles puts it down and Fiona picks it up, and round and round it goes.  Last week was stressful.  Fiona is in a local Wizard of Oz production and rehearsals are ramping up as the show approaches.  And, Myles has needed careful attention with his school work. Therefore, I am having to work really hard at making sure everyone in the house is getting enough time to decompress.   This blue book has been our crutch, and it worked wonders.  As I begin to read El Deafo aloud, we huddle closer and closer following Cece's journey through life.  It is difficult to stop reading, which is perfect right now.

I am startled to realize that my anticipation of the holidays this year is filled with joy. Bringing out the box of decorations will help make our new home feel more familiar to us.  Our simple traditions will soften the pieces of our life that we are still growing accustomed to.  Part of me even wants to throw a party.  I'm not going to hold myself to that, but the fact that the idea doesn't terrify me I will take as a really good sign.


More With Less

Sometimes this cookbook does not call out to me from the stack. I think it is the title. Why can't life's proverbs ring the bell of More with More?  But whether I am in the mood or not, the worn pages of this heirloom are filled with recipes that make you feel like you can conquer the world, at least for the moment. I remember when my mom handed me this copy, shortly after I was married saying, "You are going to enjoy this...And you are going to need it." For example, the Kusherie (Egyptian Rice and Lentils) is simple, nutritious goodness and can be made for a friend in need in about fifteen minutes. And I did just that this morning and it felt great. In the midst of sprawling paper work, and lists of things to do, the ability to whip up sustenance turns a day around. I am thankful for that.

     Our fall has probably been much like yours - Beautiful and filled with vibrant colors that stop you in your tracks. New schedules, hard times and too many forms to sign.  The colors on the cover of Laura Vaccaro Seeger's new picture book, "I Used to be Afraid" feel like they have been gathered from autumn's illustriousness. And inside the beauty continues, in her simple text about conquered fears.  I have been using this table to set up a new book on display each week.  It makes me happy, to see hands of all ages reach for the titles.

     More changes for our sweet Fiona. Today is her second day at another new school.   We had been on the wait list for a local public Montessori school, and a spot opened up.  Hooray!  We knew it was the right place for her, but two new schools in two months is a lot.  She is a little disoriented, but we are working hard to help her recenter.  She is a very trusting little girl.
And now let the Halloween costume scramble begin. Oy Vey.



I am very thankful for the arrival of autumn and all that its tidings bring.  You see, we moved at the beginning of the summer.  This meant we had the season to unpack and settle in. We could recover from the emotional cost of selling a home, saying good-bye, finding a new apartment, registering for new schools, starting new jobs, ending old ones, all during the luxury of schedule free days and weeks and months.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.*

The cool breeze of today's morning cools the memory of our fevered summer brow, reminding us with bitter sweetness that we will never have another one exactly like that again.  We were weary from change and anticipation, and just like all who have moved can understand; it felt like the boxes would be never leave. But then it happens. Books appear on shelves. Little moments pop up all around bringing much needed therapy.
The kids start school and come home with smiles, real ones.  And I am reminded with a grateful spirit that the constancy of family can weather mighty winds.


Book Bag - no. 20

So we are back in Cambridge and I feel like I'm dreaming.  With summer, and bikes and the library; words cannot express the change I feel about this next chapter. Yesterday I met an old friend at the library. We talked and swapped our latest family favorites while the kids got lost in the shelves.  It felt indulgent.  For a couple of hours, I think I experienced what I have heard called the "sweet spot" of parenting.  As annoying as that sounds, it is a little bit true. Translation:  I didn't know the precise location of my kids for a time, and I finished my ice coffee on my own terms.  

Today the parenting story is a bit different. The highs and lows are present every day, but really how low can they go? It seems as though summer tempers and moving box chaos have tested that limit.  I want to determine myself to set the highs as a back drop for our dips.  I am not great at this.  When I am in the midst of a struggle, I reach despair rather quickly, helping no one.  For example, when today it was hard to find a trace of empathy in my son towards his younger family members, it doesn't mean that yesterday's kindness no longer counts. It is like everyday I am trying to set the world record for consecutive days of sibling harmony, and failing.  Is this the long winded and awkward way of saying, life is not a zero sum game? Probably. 

Tomorrow morning we are headed to Concord for an outing with a picnic.  We hope to rent a canoe, and paddle away our worries.  The treat of being able to do this in twenty minutes was basically why I moved. Sort of. I love this town. It really is a thrill to drive by Louisa May Alcott's old, brown house.  I think this year the kids are ready for the actual tour. Especially after rereading, Alvin Ho.  It is his hometown too, you know.
Remember, The Great Brain? Myles finished it yesterday and said it might be his new favorite book. I love new favorites.