Baby Showers for Second Babies

Monday, October 2, 2017

To my knowledge there's no hard-and-fast rule about baby showers for second, third, or even fourth children. Maybe I should consult Emily Post on the matter. Having a baby shower for the first baby makes a lot of sense. Babies come with truck loads of stuff! Most of which is only used during the first couple years of life. Fortunately, I was showered with not one, but two, generous baby showers three years ago. Creating a registry made the process a bit simpler, but I was pretty clueless about what exactly we needed and what we would use. Now I know, when in doubt, consult this helpful list.

But when it comes to having a second child (especially when it's the same gender), I always feel a little conflicted about a baby shower. Is it necessary? Probably not. Do I need one? Again, probably not. Will I attend someone else's shower that is having a same gender second baby? Most likely yes. Why? Mainly because I feel like babies should be celebrated. And who doesn't like a good party? (By good, I mean absolutely NO hokey baby shower games.)

That said, a couple friends have asked what they can get us for baby number two and to be honest, I've had a hard time responding. Mainly because now that I'm a parent I feel like the most important thing you can give a weary mama of a newborn is sleep. Buckets of sleep. Which, let's be honest, isn't really something you can gift wrap and pop in the mail. Apart from cherished shut-eye, I have a hazy memory of just how many diapers babies use. Sometimes 10-12 in one day! And while giving diapers to a new parent might be akin to receiving toilet paper for Christmas, I can honestly say that diapers are a gift that will be appreciated and get used.

The other SUPER helpful thing about having a child is when friends and family bring meals. We don't live close to any family, but were so lucky to have numerous friends bring meals or muffins over during those first few weeks. What a lifesaver. While I have every ambition of stocking my freezer better this time around, I'm fairly certain if someone sent us a meal kit (like this or this) I might just be the happiest person on the planet.

Lastly, having another baby is a great time to take stock of what worked and what didn't the first time around. Here I'm referring mainly to baby gear. One of my biggest regrets the first time around was purchasing a ten-year-old secondhand car seat. Yikes. Which I now know is technically illegal. That said, I've done some research and decided that we really ought to invest in a new car seat and portable stroller frame to manage the hoopla that will involve navigating two small humans. Any other must-have items you've loved and used for your babies?

Ps. Our tiny registry for baby #2 can be found here.

Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an Adult

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

As one who reads a great deal of children's literature, everything from board books to YA novels, reading Bruce Handy's latest book Wild Things was not only an escape into the books of my formative years, it was a thoughtful analysis (complete with footnotes, appendix, and accompanying bibliography at the back of the book) of children's literature as both a genre and process of human development. From the outset this book might seemingly appeal only to teachers and librarians. However, I think most parents, caregivers, and educators of young children could benefit from the anecdotes and every day details outlining not only why we read to children, but what a metamorphosis children's literature has had in the past half a century.

To quote some from the introduction, here is a section on how the book is organized.

Roughly speaking, this book is organized chronologically, by the ages of intended readerships, beginning with picture books for the youngest children and moving on through chapter books and then to novels that just kiss the border of young adult fiction, maybe crossing over once or twice. I've tried to weave in a parallel narrative showing the way the best authors and illustrators not only address the needs of different age groups but also challenge them, broadening worlds and stretching imaginations. I'd like to think there's an implicit coming-of-age story here. 

A particularly poignant passage on picture books.

Why haven't picture books earned the same pop culture cachet that comics and graphic novels have? Picture books are like poetry to comics' prose, a form every bit as sophisticated if not more so, and no less worthy of adults' attention and enjoyment. In a fairer world, Ferdinand the bull, Olivia the pig and Sam-I-Am the whatever-he-is, would be mentioned right alongside Krazy Kat, Superman, Popeye, Charlie Brown and Lucy when discussing archetypal American characters. They might even deserve a seat at the table with Huck and Gatsby. 

And lastly, this take-away message.

One thing I hope to convey is the sheer pleasure of reading children's books, not just to whatever children you have on hand but also for your own enjoyment and enlightenment. As Ursula K. Le Guin has written, 'Revisiting a book loved in childhood may be principally an act of nostalgia...[however] you may well discover a book far less simple and unambiguous than the one you remembered. That shift and deepening of meaning can be a revelation both about the book and yourself.'

Admittedly I must forgive Handy on account of his extensive space dedicated to Seuss and his hearty dismissal of Anne of Green Gables, but otherwise this compelling nonfiction begs for future editions of similar substance.

Four Back-to-School Picture Books

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Efficient George has taken considerable care in making sure he's done everything to get ready for school. Still he can't help feeling like he's forgot something. This colorful picture book is another one to have in your back-to-school arsenal, guaranteed to make you smile.

What George Forgot by Kathy Wolff, illustrated by Richard Byrne. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing.
Zoey, the adventurous chicken, is spunky enough to start her own school, inviting all her barnyard pals to be part of the best parts of school. With humor and zeal you'll easily identify with this book and find it the perfect tool for transitioning little ones to preschool or kindergarten.

Chicken in School
by Adam Lehrhaupt (@lehrhaupt) and illustrated by Shahar Kober. Published by Harper Collins Publishing.
When a mother bear can't handle being parted from her little cub, her young son, Benno, gently reassures her and then kindly let's her spend part of the morning with him in his new classroom. A heartwarming role reversal book; perfect as a back-to-school read aloud and one that my three-year-old can't get enough of.

Don't Go to School! by Máire Zepf and illustrated by Tarsila Krüse. Published by Sterling Publishing.

This new concept book, featuring Mac the plush apple with an adorable mini backpack, is perfect for talking with your kids about the normal process of nervous excitement when starting a new school year. For anyone that loves Elf on the Shelf at Christmas time, this is similarly structured, and one that is completely customizable.

Back to School With Mac by Kim DiLoreto, illustrated by Alvina Kwong. Published by Little Pumpkin Press.

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