somewhat bookish.

Totally Two: April April 11, 2014

Filed under: Motherhood — cransell @ 2:10 pm


What’s New: You are finally wearing 24 months clothes. There are still a few 18 month things in your wardrobe, but mostly you’ve outgrown them!


Toddler Skills: Your memory is a serious thing these days. Last night we talked about going to the library, but you decided you’d rather walk around the block, picking flowers/weeds and jumping on manhole covers. This morning when you woke up, you whine-cried “liibrarrry”. Likewise, a month or so ago you outgrew your shoes, and got new ones. Just this past weekend, you told me you wanted your “moon-star shoes”, which have been packed up out of sight for a month! It’s wild to me that you have this sort of long-term memory now!


Moments to Remember:

Sometimes I do an exploding fist bump with you and you laugh and laugh. I know you won’t always think I’m so hilarious and I am just soaking it up.

An actual transcript of a conversation we had on a recent walk:
You: What that?
Me: Uh, a drainage pipe.
You: (very excitedly) OOOOO! Drainage pipe!
It’s amazing what things are exciting when everything is pretty darn new.

When you don’t want us to take your picture, you say: “No cheese!”

This past weekend you were reading to yourself, and then you looked up and said: Mommy! My lap! Sit! and when I went and sat on the floor with you, you “read” to me. A lovely change of roles.

Proving that kids mimic what they see, this weekend you play-acted picking up Charlie’s poop. You put the newspaper bag over your arm and hand and picked up window clings that were lying on the floor. It was pretty amusing to me!

Mommy and Frances #365photoproject #day198

Likes: Flowers (in real life and on things – especially your clothes and shoes). Soup. Baseball. Dresses.


Dislikes: Not getting your way. I feel like this comes up regularly, and will continue to come up forever. Who doesn’t like to get their own way? Afternoon naps at home (also, again). Please start napping again, kiddo.



No travel this past month, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t had adventures! Winter had one last hurrah last month on Mommy’s birthday, and you had another Snow Day. Also, you made cupcakes for Mommy’s birthday! You are an excellent decorator.

Taking her sprinkle decorating duties seriously.

You also started a dance class, with which you have a love/hate relationship. The intention of the instructor is for parents NOT to attend the class, but you and a few of the other kids (the younger two year olds) tend to FREAK out when parents leave, so I’ve sat through every class so far. With Mommy, there, you love to tap and wiggle and tumble. This past week I’ve been catching snippets of you singing one of the songs from dance class. You like your leotard and your fancy dance shoes. You would just prefer to have a parental witness, please.

opening day. plus cookie.

Baseball is back! You went to Opening Day with your Mommies once again. Best family tradition ever. AND then you got to go again on Sunday. Luckiest girl. You have your own seat this year, which you are exceeding proud of, but you prefer to stand in front of it rather than sit on it most of the time.

Opening day


What I Read: March April 4, 2014

Filed under: Random Reading — cransell @ 10:44 am

I spent most of March trying to read Personal History by Katherine Graham, which I had picked for my book club’s selection this month. (I made it through 400 of the 650 pages, but finishing it will have to be something I do this month. Maybe). Anyway, I forbid myself to read anything else while try to plow through Personal History (never a good move on my part), and ended up finishing just one book back in the beginning of the month. That book was (fiction, hard copy):

Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood. This is the second book in the Phryne Fisher series and was mostly a fun, silly read, but about 3/4 of the way through the book, Greenwood used the phrase “picaninny sky” to describe the morning light, and it’s pretty well soured me on the whole thing. I went so far as too look up the phrase in the OED, in the vague hopes that this had a more benign meaning in Australia (where Greenwood is from and the books are set), but nope, it pretty much refers to what you are thinking it refers too. I think this especially bothered me because the use of the phrase was gratuitous. People use racist language in real life, so of course it appears in books, but there was no need for this particular phrase to be used then. There are lots of other ways to describe the morning sky and I don’t think that Greenwood was trying to paint her heroine as racist. I think the phrase was used carelessly, without realizing that it was a hurtful thing to say. Anyway, a lot of thoughts about two words in a cheesy mystery, but it’s left me with a sour taste in my mouth.


Totally Two: March March 13, 2014

Filed under: Motherhood — cransell @ 12:55 pm


What’s New: Your daycare moved! Not permanently, but they are building an addition on to their current space, and now you are two blocks away at space that they have rented in a church. You actually really like the change, although you are always trying to sneak into the class with older kids. You love older kids.

You got your second haircut this past month. They went a little shorter than we expected, and now all the ladies of the house are sporting some variety of bob, which is amusing to me. Still, I think we’ll grow it out for a while!


Toddler Skills: You are a crazy good climber. It sometimes freaks me out how fearless you are. And nimble. But good job, kid!

Both goats and Frankies love to climb.

Moments to Remember:

Last week your Mommy was getting ready to go to yoga class, as you and I were upstairs getting you ready for bed. We talked about how Mommy was going to yoga and said: Do you want to do yoga? That got an enthusiastic yes, so we taught you how to do downward-facing dog, and then went back to putting on your pajamas. Once they were on, you said: Yoga, and proceeded to do downward-facing dog again – stopping just long enough to insist that your mommies do it with you. It was super cute.

You and I have started baking together. Just stuff from a mix so far – dump in ingredients and stir, but you enjoy it and I have a vision of the slightly older girl you will be, helping in the kitchen. It makes me happy.

We went to the library as a family after dinner on Monday, and when you go out of the car, you said “Yaaaay, library!” and my heart just melted. Your love of libraries and baseball make me feel like I am doing something right as a parent!


grammie and kitty snuggles

Likes: Mary Poppins, still. (I’m rather pleased with this obsession. How many two year olds can say suffragette?). Your “bicycle” (really a trike, but that’s what you call it). Coloring. Play doh. Money (play money, but also coins that you find. “My money”, you say). Saying everything is “Mine.” Going on walks “outside”. Family hugs.

Evening walk.

Dislikes: Not getting your way. You say “don’t want it” when we make you do something you’re not in to (like say: go to bed), but honestly, that’s really all that sticks out from this past month. Which isn’t too shabby!


Adventures: The biggest adventure of the past month was our trip to Maine over President’s Day. It was our first family trip there during the Winter, and it was cold and snowy and beautiful. You really enjoyed playing in the snow. We were at a ski resort, and you went to their daycare one morning to play with the other kids. When I picked you up, the teacher said, “She loves the snow. When the other kids fell down, they would cry, but she just laughed and laughed!”

It was your Aunt Kim’s birthday while we were there, and you enjoyed helping to decorate the cupcakes. So lovely to get to spend time with all your Maine family!



There was plenty of snow at home in the past month too – two big (for DC) multi-inch, school and work closing storms. You got plenty of snow-playing time, but I am hoping we are now done for the year.

We also had some really nice, warm days this past month, and your mommies had a good time having outdoor adventures with you – at the zoo and neighborhood playgrounds. There will be more of that in the months ahead!



DCPL Love: Chevy Chase Library March 7, 2014

Filed under: Life List — cransell @ 9:47 am
Tags: , ,

I had never visited the Chevy Chase Library prior to last weekend. But the branch is just a block from the store where we buy Frances’ shoes and we had some time to kill after we got our shopping done, so it seemed the perfect time to check it out.


This building opened in 1968, and resembles nothing so much as a 1970s bank branch. It was not the first library in Chevy Chase though – the neighborhood has had a library since 1920, in rented or shared space, but this was the neighborhood’s first dedicated library building. DCPL has been renovating and building lots of new library buildings in the past few years, and this should probably go on the list for the next round. It’s dated inside as well as out.

That said, the library is quite large for a neighborhood library. It was getting great use early on a Saturday morning. Definitely an important part of the neighborhood. It was the most well-staffed of any branch library I’ve been to – I counted 7 staff members working and I’m not sure I caught everyone!


The library is two stories, and we spent most of our time on the second floor where the children’s collection is located. The library has great Eric Carle rugs which I loved – and a felt “board” (really a felt-covered angled table) to play with, which I haven’t seen at any other libraries so far. The focus is definitely on more traditional library services, not as many puzzles, art supplies, or games as you find at other branches.



Downstairs you find the adult collections, periodicals, and the circulation desk. I thought the library had some really neat themed book displays up, which was nice. So often it’s just new books. Frances and I checked out The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, one of my childhood favorites.

One of my life list goals is to visit every library in the DCPL system. There are 26 libraries total, and I’ve been to 7 so far. You can read the other posts here.


What I Read: February 2014 March 4, 2014

Filed under: Random Reading — cransell @ 9:34 am

I read 6 books in February, half fiction, half non-fiction. Half on Kindle, half in print. How balanced of me!

A Fork in the Road, edited by James Oseland. This is a collection of essays about food and travel (two things I like quite a bit). It was a good, easy read, although a bit heavy on food experiences in Paris (I feel like if you are going to write about Paris for a book on food and travel, it’s got to be AMAZING, because it’s pretty rote at this point). I had two favorite essays – the first was by Giles Coren (restaurant critic for the Times of London) and was about his first trip to the U.S. as a child in the 1980s and his experiencing of all the amazing foods he’d only witnessed on TV (McDonald’s! Vending Machines! Twinkies!). The other was an essay by Ma Thanegi, a woman who had served as a body guard for Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, when she was touring the country (prior to her house arrest). On their travel they were served veritable feasts at every stop, and Thanegi describes them (and the intersection of food, welcome, and politics) beautifully.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing, written by Anya Von Bremzen. This was a really excellent memoir/look at Soviet history through the lens of food. Von Bremzen and her mother emigrated from Moscow to Philadelphia when she was 9, and she is now a cookbook-writer by profession. She goes through the Soviet Union by the decade – describing the food common to the era. This is much better than your average food memoir. Well worth picking up.

Cocaine Blues, written by Kerry Greenwood. This is the first book in a mystery series centered around Phyrne Fisher, an wild-living aristocrat, living in Australia in the 1930s. Somewhat as a lark, but following her natural talents, Fisher establishes herself as a private investigator. Very fun. A good vacation read.

Finnikin of the Rock, written by Melina Marchetta. Marchetta is a YA writer that I, surprisingly, had never read before. This is the first in a new fantasy series about Lumatere, a land under a curse, where no one can enter or leave. Finnikin is a Lumateran exile, son of the head of the King’s Guard. With the help of Evanjalin, a young woman with special powers, Finnikin embarks on a quest to find the missing Prince Balthazar, in the hopes that he has the power to break the curse. If you like YA Fantasy, this is a great read!

Keeping The Castle, written by Patrice Kindl. A perfectly charming YA romance written in the vein of Jane Austen’s Emma. If you like feisty heroines and crumbling castles, this is the book for you!

Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women, written by Carol Dyhouse. I was excited to get this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers – a look at the history of young women in the past century or so? Yes, please! Dyhouse is a British social historian, so it was also interesting to look at the progress made by girls and women from a slightly different perspective. Having read a lot about women’s history, a lot of this was familiar to me, still it was an interesting read and Dyhouse did a good job both providing a broad overview and interesting anecdotes. I bet she’s a great teacher!


Reading About Reading: A Link Round-up February 28, 2014

Filed under: Somewhat Bookish — cransell @ 8:59 am

It seems like link round-ups are things that are done on Fridays, and there are a few book/library-related posts lately that have been floating around in my brain, so I thought I would share. Have you read anything good on the internet lately? Leave me a comment with the link(s)!

Genre blocks
Are there genres or themes that you never like to read? What are your reading blocks? I really liked this post and the subsequent comments about what we choose to read (and what we never pick up).

Highbrow media’s sexist blind spot: Romance novels
Why doesn’t the media talk about the best selling segment of the publishing industry more?

“The typical excuse for that exclusion is genre, not gender. But those two words have a common root, and are intertwined in many ways. Romance is seen as unserious and frivolous because women are seen as unserious and frivolous, and romance is written largely by women, for women, about concerns traditionally seen as feminine.”

This is What a Librarian Looks Like
I’m a sucker for any project that celebrates the diversity of librarianship.

“I realized I had a stereotype in my mind of what a librarian looked like, which is one of the reasons I wanted to do this project. Whenever I think something is true, I’m often wrong,” Cassidy said. “I tend to think of librarians as the ones I know from my public library and from school. But there are librarians who are researchers and archivists doing extraordinarily technical work. There are librarians who work in specialized fields who have to know about archaeology, for example, or medicine or research science. The field was broader than I had gone in there thinking.”

This Map Shows The Most Famous Book Set In Every State
I strongly disagree that The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown is the most famous book set in DC.

“Why are they always white children?”
I have been thinking about race and children’s picture books since NPR did a story on the topic last year. That story is also worth a read, but I really liked this more recent post.

“Children living in one of the most diverse countries in the world need to be exposed to people who are not like them. Otherwise they grow up to be the kind of person that freaks out when Coca Cola airs a commercial during the Super Bowl in which “America the Beautiful” is sung in language other than English.”


1987 Caldecott Medal: Hey, Al February 25, 2014

Filed under: Life List,Random Reading — cransell @ 9:40 am
Tags: ,

Hey, Al

Hey, Al, written by Arthur Yorinks and illustrated by Richard Egielski, is the somewhat odd tale of a janitor (Al) and his dog (Eddie) who are taken by a large tropical bird to a lush island in the sky. At first this seems like a wonderful escape from their hum-drum life, but over time Al and Eddie begin to turn into birds and decide that they must escape.

Egielski’s illustrations are realistic and detailed. The drab browns of Al’s everyday life give way to the bright, tropical colors of the island. The visuals really make the story.

Richard Egielski has illustrated over 50 books, 8 of which he also wrote. He collaborated with Arthur Yorinks on 9 different children’s books, starting in 1976, but Hey, Al is his only Caldecott Medal (or Honor) book.

This book is probably most appropriate for elementary-aged readers, although the illustrations might be enough to capture slightly younger kids. Overall I find the tone of the book to be just plain weird, rather than charmingly quirky. Not my favorite of the Caldecotts I’ve read so far.


One of my Life List goals is to read all of the Caldecott winners. This is my fifth post about a Caldecott book. You can read the other Caldecott posts here.



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