somewhat bookish.

Totally Two: August August 20, 2014

Filed under: Motherhood — cransell @ 12:58 pm

what a treat!

Vital Statistics: You are now 24.2 pounds! Good job, chowing down and beefing up, kiddo.

What’s New: Your Mommy has a new job! I know that’s not really NEW with YOU, but it does affect you – your daycare schedule has changed to 8-6 (from 7:30-5:30). No longer are you the FIRST kid at daycare every morning.

mmm tomato

Toddler Skills: Eating. Well, I don’t know that this has improved to the level of a SKILL, but we have been really working on getting enough calories in you this past month and you have been doing a great job. And you love your “Dr. Corder Milk.”

"Say cheese,  little baby" #365photoproject #day336

Moments to Remember:

Sometime in the past month, your Mommy pointed out the Capitol Building to you. Now every time you see an imposing white building or one with a dome (including church cupolas), you say “Look! It’s the Cap-di-dol.”

You are working on third person pronouns, but so far you have one – HER. She, he, it, his, her, it’s, HER is currently the word for all of those. This lead to the following amusing (to me) exchange when we read this book last week. F: “What’s her name?” M: “President Taft” F: “Oh!” (Knowingly) “… is stuck in the bath”.

We all watched Annie a few weekends ago for family movie night. You are obsessed and always was to sing Annie songs. You refer to the song “Dumb Dog” as “Mean Dog”. And you are fond of asking us: “What’s Annie’s dog’s name?” If we ask you, you answer confidently: “Sammy!(A note from your Mama: since I first wrote this, you have started saying “Sandy”, but I still love the weeks of “Sammy”, so I am memorializing them here.)

One day, while looking through photo albums (a favorite activity of yours), you saw some old pictures of your Mommy with a guitar (she used to be in a band, you know. Total rockstar). You decided you wanted one too, so a lovely, Minnie Mouse guitar was ordered and you have enjoyed playing it these past few weeks. You do a great rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

You are very sweet with your loveys. You are sleeping with two these days – LaLa of course, and also Minnie Mouse, who you loved as a baby. At bedtime you often cradle them in your arms and sing them lullabies. Especially “Stay Awake” from Mary Poppins.

this? this is my spray park

Likes: Christmas stories. They are often the choice at bedtime these days. Being two. I’m happy to report that after real peak in the occurrence of tantrums they have calmed down as the month went on. You still have them, but they aren’t constant, like they were for a two week stretch there. You still like spray parks and playgrounds. Plums. Reading. Dr. Corder. Annie. You are always singing the songs from Annie. Exercising.

Dislikes: You went through a few weeks of extreme toothbrushing aversion (teething?), but luckily that has passed. You also really hated putting on your shoes for a while there, but then we bought you new, bigger shoes and we don’t have that problem any more. Guess they just weren’t comfortable, oops. You have some general dissatisfaction with life occasionally, but nothing is particularly bugging you these days.


Adventures: Your Grammie came to visit this past weekend and did all sorts of great stuff with you. SO MUCH FUN.


What I Read: July August 13, 2014

Filed under: Random Reading — cransell @ 9:06 pm

I read 8 books in July, all fiction. 6 were on the Kindle, 2 were in print.

Bertie Plays the Blues by Alexander McCall Smith (2013).
The next book in the fun, light 44 Scotland Street series. 7-year-old Bertie’s struggles with his mother continue. Domenica and Angus are engaged. Matthew and Elspeth are now the parents of triplets! Life, in other words.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (2011).
It feels a little bit like sacrilege to admit it, but this is the first book I’ve read by Rainbow Rowell. I really liked it, one of my favorites of a month of reading. Lincoln gets a job of “Internet security officer” at a Nebraska newspaper. In practical terms, this means reading emails by the paper’s employees that get flagged for “inappropriate” content. He comes to know and like two friends through their email exchanges, which they don’t know he is reading. A fun twist on an epistolary novel and a really quick read.

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante (2011).
This had been on my To Read list for a while and I picked up when it was a Kindle Daily Deal. It’s a mystery that circles around the murder of a retired schoolteacher. Suspected is the teacher’s best friend a world-class surgeon with Alzheimer’s. I didn’t love it but it was solid. Not sad to have spent $1.99 on it.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (2011).
The Sisters Brothers was on a lot of Best lists when it was first published in 2011. I am not really much of a Westerns reader, but it got enough good press that I thought it was worth checking out when it too was a Kindle Daily Deal. Eli and Charlie Sisters are professional killers working in the Western territories in 1851. Given that, I should have been prepared for how violent the book was, but I really wasn’t. Reviews call it darkly comic, but I didn’t enjoy the humor. It’s definitely well written, accolades well deserved, just not really my cup of tea. I’d recommend True Grit if you want to try a Western, but they aren’t your usual genre.

Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich (2013).
Oh Stephanie Plum. You are always there for me when I want a super quick, amusing read. If life is feeling hard, well, at least I am not a fairly-inept bounty hunter in Trenton!

The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne (2006).
I picked this up because it was recommended by Everyday Reading and the premise sounded amusing. If I haven’t made this clear yet, I am definitely focused on quick, easy, amusing reads this summer! After getting laid off, Melissa starts her own agency helping socially inept men with the social graces. There is a love interest of course. It’s sweet and fluffy and fun. First in a series.

The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham (2014).
A thoroughly enjoyed Children’s fantasy novel about the Village Drowning, ruled by an evil earl and threatened by the terrifying Bog Noblins. Will the banished secret society, the Luck Uglies save them? The book reminded me of novels by Tamora Pierce. Definitely a keeper.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009).
This book made me like Thomas Cromwell. I didn’t really have an opinion about him before, didn’t know anything about him other than he was a non-royal ruler of England, and that that fact wasn’t without, um, conflict. The events Wolf Hall predate that – you see him as very much self-made man, smart, sympathetic, and very, very competent. Not sure if it’s a fair portrayal, but it does make for a very good read.


What I Read: June July 31, 2014

Filed under: Random Reading — cransell @ 12:18 pm

A very late update! I read 3 books in June. One was fiction, two were non-fiction. All were in print!

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. I picked this up based on recommendations for a “don’t want to put it down, read it in 24 hours” book. It took me slightly longer than 24 hours (have I mentioned I have a toddler), but not much, and I found it totally enjoyable. Clay Jannon is laid off from his web design job, and ends up working as a clerk at a 24 hour bookstore in San Francisco, which is a front for a delightfully nerdy secret society.

Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett. I read this for the #betterinrealifereadinglist, and you can read my (and others) others thoughts over there if you are curious. In brief, this is a memoir by the writer Ann Patchett of her friendship with the author Lucy Grealy. I found it really lovely.

This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, edited by Jay Allison. If you’ve heard the NPR series, This I Believe, then you know what this is about: short essays by folks from all walks of life about their core beliefs. I especially enjoyed the fact that this book mixed essays from the original series in the 1950s with essays from the current series.


Life List #32. Make homemade ice cream. July 24, 2014

Filed under: Life List — cransell @ 12:58 pm

I have long desired an ice cream maker. I started saving ice cream recipes to a Pinterest board over a year ago for the day when I could make all those yummy treats myself. Then, at the beginning of the month I just decided: THE TIME HAD COME. I tweeted:



My thought was that I would add it to my Wish List, and maybe someone would get it for me for my birthday. BUT THEN, my fairy godmother (aka my friend Marcella) replied and offered me her ice cream maker, which was just taking up room in her closet. AMAZING.

Last week, I made my first batch of homemade ice cream. I picked peach, because our CSA had yummy ones just begging to be used.

Here’s how it went:

Chop up peaches, mix with sugar, let sit for 2 hours, so they get nice and juicy:


Always do what Ben & Jerry tell you:


Mix, mix, mix:


Transfer to freezer container and freeze solid:


Consume (bonus point for cute ice cream model):


It’s super tasty! It was super fun! And now we have tons of peach ice cream in our freezer, because I am actually counting calories at the moment. Wah. Wah. STILL! Two thumbs up for homemade ice cream. Just got the Jeni’s Ice Cream book out of the library and can’t wait to make more!


TWO AND A HALF July 21, 2014

Filed under: Motherhood — cransell @ 12:03 pm


Holy crap! We have a two and a half year old. (Remember how important those half years were when you were a kid? “I’m not 6, I’m 6 AND A HALF.” Yeah, I feel like that now!) Here’s all the latest on Frances at two and a half.


Vital Statistics: At your 30 month check up last week, you weighed 23 pounds and were 34 inches long. You are not gaining weight as quickly as your pediatrician would like, so we’re back to “figure out how to get as many calories in this kid as possible” mode. You are not a picky eater, but you don’t eat a ton of anything, so we need to make sure everything you eat packs a good caloric punch. For now that means lots of full fat dairy, peanut butter, and “Dr. Corder milk” (aka, Pediasure) every night after dinner. Luckily you really like the Pediasure.

we've entered the skinned knees phase of childhood

What’s New: You are such a KID now a days. Just what I envision when I think of a kid – running around, active, engaged, (mostly) happy, into everything with messy clothes and skinned knees. Just in the past month you seem to have passed one of those invisible age lines that always catch us parents by surprise. One day we just wake up and you are older.


Toddler Skills: You have your colors DOWN. This really helps when you tells us: “I want that” while pointing vaguely in the direction of half a room’s worth of stuff. Now at least we can narrow what you want down by color.

serious about exercising

Moments to Remember:

You are very in to exercising these days (this is clearly an activity at daycare) and you like to show us your muscles (holding your arm up in the standard flex pose).

You are very helpful these days. Chores that you are good at: putting your clothes in the hamper, throwing things away in the trash, mixing/stirring food items, cleaning up your toys (sometimes), rinsing dishes, shelling black-eyed peas.

You have this nonsense phrase that you like to say a lot: “challa palla” (someone tell me if something like this means something in Spanish!) You often answer challa palla to questions (What song should we sing? What book should we read, etc.?) The other day you and your Mommy had a whole long nonsense conversation starting with challa palla and it was hilarious.


Likes: Spray parks! After two years of being terrified of them, you now find the SO, SO fun. We go several times a week. You like being outside in general: playing in the front yard, going for a walk, visiting the playground – all are good fun. Also, thankfully for us, despite your big kid transformation, you still like to snuggle.


Dislikes: Being two and a half? Tantrums have definitely gotten more frequent in the past month and they are now often of the total and complete meltdown variety. It’s gotten harder to prevent them (you used to be much easier to distract), and I can’t always tell WHY they are happening. I think being this age must be hard sometimes. Also, your two year molars are still coming in, so that may be making you a little more on edge than usual.


Adventures: We went to Grandma and Pop Pop’s farm for the 4th of July. You saw chickens, goats, dogs, baby calves at the dairy, and one very fun small town 4th of July parade. Oh, and the big highlight – Grandma and Pop Pop of course.



Toddler Reads: Potty Training June 25, 2014

Filed under: Kids Books — cransell @ 12:13 pm
Tags: ,

Let me tell you: there are A LOT of really mediocre books about using the potty out there in the world. Here are a few that I didn’t HATE.


Diapers are Not Forever. Written by Elizabeth Verdick. Illustrated by Marieka Heinlen. (2008).
PREACH, Ms Verdick. Diapers ARE NOT forever. Cute and simple board book about growing up and learning to use the potty.

Everyone Poops. Written and Illustrated by Taro Gomi. (1977).
The classic, and rightfully so to my mind. Takes poop from the realm of YUCK to totally normal. Plus you get to say poop a lot, which always amusing to toddlers.

Go Girl, Go Potty! Written and Illustrated by Emily Bolam. (2006).
Potty training with flaps. (Flap books make everything more amusing!) A silly look at who uses the potty (Spoiler alert: giraffes do not, little girls do). There is also a boy version, if that is more appropriate in your house.


Oh no! Gotta go, Number 2! Written by Susan Middleton Elya. Illustrated by Lynne Avril. (2007).
This probably has the most “plot” of any of the potty training books. A little girl goes on a picnic with her parents. She pees before she leaves home and doesn’t drink anything while out, but soon remembers that “there’s more than one reason to sit on the pot.” Emergencia! Written in English, with scattered Spanish vocabulary. There is also an earlier book with the same girl about needing to pee, but I think this is the stronger of the two.

Potty. Written and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli. (2010).
Patricelli has written dozen of board books about popular toddler topics. Yummy Yucky is a favorite of ours, and Potty features the same mostly bald, gender ambiguous baby. Let’s call the kid Pat. Baby contemplates peeing in the diaper, but choose to go on the potty instead. GOOD CHOICE, baby!

Time to Pee! Written and illustrated by Mo Willems.
Willems, author of Knuffle Bunny and the popular Elephant and Piggie books puts his great talents toward the topic of potty time. Specifically what to do when you get that “funny feeling” that lets you know you need to pee. If you buy the book, you get a potty chart and stickers, but we just got it out of the library, and that suited us fine.


Totally Two: June June 24, 2014

Filed under: Motherhood — cransell @ 12:19 pm


What’s New: We went on vacation at the end of May and you slept in a Big Girl Bed! You are still in the crib at home, but you did really well.


Toddler Skills: POTTY! Oh, my gosh are you amazing at the potty. We did an intensive three day, don’t leave the house potting training weekend at the beginning of the month, and you have done so well. You are 95% accident free, you tell us when you need to go potty, you mostly wake up dry. Your mommies are crazy proud.


Moments to Remember:

Pulling up at our house after driving home from vacation: “Frances, look! Where are we?” Sobbing Frances: “I want my vacation house.” Don’t we all, kid. Don’t we all.

While driving you to daycare one day, from the backseat I hear you talking to your Minnie Mouse doll: “Oh, Minnie, you fall down? It’s okay, your mommy here.”

At baseball on Sunday: “Look at me. I’m tired.” It’s hard to miss a nap these days.

There is this rhyming book about cars (Cars Galore) that we checked out of the library recently and that gets read a lot at bedtime. You LOVE the last line: “Someday YOU’LL drive.” You love to pretend to drive in the front seat of our car.


Likes: Frozen peas (I think this is a teething thing). Dresses, oh my word, dresses. Naps (after so long on the dislikes list, I am really savoring this one. I think potty training really takes it out of you). Bubbles. Your sand and water table and using it to get as dirty as humanly possible. Hugs and snuggles. Treats. Delaying bedtime. Butter.

Baseball love. #365photoproject #day283

Dislikes: Things that are too loud. Not getting treats on demand.


Adventures: The big adventure of the past month plus was, of course, our family vacation in Virginia Beach (where this Mama grew up). Grandma and Pop Pop, Uncle Jonathan and Auntie ‘Stina also stayed at “your vacation house” with us. Auntie Laurie (who still lives in Virginia Beach) visited most days. Great Grandma Jane even came down one day to hang out with you. It was all SO MUCH FUN.


You have also been to baseball FOUR times and celebrated your good bud Katherine’s 3rd birthday. Good times.



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