Thursday, September 19, 2019

What We're Reading: Hilo

What we're reading: Hilo by Judd Winick (of Real World SF fame).

My husband picked out this graphic novel for Animal. Based on that knowledge, Animal was hesitant to try this one. After we finished Ghosts I decided we would make Hilo our bedtime story. Usually I let Animal choose, but sometimes I decide it's time to try something outside of his comfort zone.

There was some grumbling and moaning to be sure, but I'm used to that. One chapter in and he was hooked. Hilo is an action packed adventure graphic novel. There are robots, kids, explosions, friendship, magic and other dimensions.

We are both enjoying so much. When I told my husband how much we were both enjoying and that Animal had already read ahead and finished it on his own, he went on Amazon and ordered the rest of the series.

We are about to finish the last book, but Animal has already devoured the complete series!

Guys, this is my dream come true. I love to read. It's such an important skill. I want my son to be a ferocious reader, like me. When he was an infant and toddler I would cry, and fret because he didn't seem to like books. He wasn't really talking very much, he only had a about a dozen words when he started preschool at 2. Even though I read to him every day. One day he finally started showing interest in the books I was reading him.

My love of reading doesn't just fuel my imagination. Doesn't just put words in my head. Doesn't just entertain me. It has made me a better, more empathetic person. It's made it easy for me to code switch. It's made me a better student. It's given me the ability to learn about anything. For fun, for health, for knowledge. Whatever the subject, there's a book for that.

Even though Animal didn't struggle to learn to read, he HATED it, and I hated making him read to me everyday. But I did. Now here we are. Finally. Don't give up fellow readers. There's a book (many books actually) for everyone.

Animal's art work.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Parenting Fail 876

Sample: creation on a (sparsely used) art tool organizer
As a parents we often buy things that we think will fuel Animal's imagination and foster his creativity. We stroll down the craft aisles and craft stores on many a Saturday while running errands.

Big Paper, little paper, white, colored, thin, thick, all kinds of paper. Glue, markers, crayons, erasers,  scissors, paintbrushes, water colors, acrylic paint. Googly eyes, stickers, rulers, pens, pencil sharpeners, organizers, art portfolios, sketch pads, canvas, scotch tape, masking tape, brads, and paper clips. That's a short list of the types of things we purchase. 

He draws. A lot. He illustrates and writes books, comics and flip-o-ramas. He cuts up boxes from Amazon and builds tracks, houses, hide outs, stores, cars, the list is as endless as his imagination. These creations fill up our walls, our floors and his bedroom. We store some, we recycle some, we throw some away. I LOVE his art. I love his creativity and tenacity. I hate throwing it away because I'm a pack rat and I'm a sentimental sucker.

So why? Why did I buy a whole bucket of pipe cleaners?

The Mr. looked at me quizzically when I picked up the bucket and asked Animal what he thought one morning at a craft store. I said, "He makes some really cool stuff with these." My husband, an artist, said, ok. Animal was excited and so was I (at the thought of escaping Micheal's 5 bucks and taxes only).

The bucket, with a few things I have found.

Here we are, a month out. He's made some cool shit. Including a King Ghidorah (Godzilla's Nemesis), and other cool creations, and many, many pieces of "art" that I find under beds, behind electronics, in toy bins, and in many random spots (as pictured at the top of this post).

So parenting fail 876: buying what would soon become precious, untouchable garbage that has served it's purpose, but I have to have the heart to throw out, because it's trash now.

Friday, September 6, 2019

What We're Reading: Ghosts

We're reading Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier.

Ghosts is a graphic novel about two sisters. Cat(rina) is a teenager and Maya is her younger sister who has cystic fibrosis. The family moves to a new city that will help Maya breath easier. The town (or at least the first people they meet) is obsessed with ghosts and El Dia De Los Muertos is a big deal in this town. 

I loved how the holiday and it's traditions were explained, the story, and the art work. It was a beautiful portrayal of how other cultures (my culture) view death. Animal loved it for "the sad, but sweet story", and because he said it was his culture. 

There is some Spanish text or for you bilingual families this graphic novel is available in Spanish (Fantasmas).

There was, for me, a very touching moment between the sisters, when Maya asks Cat, "What happens if I die, Cat? Will you be afraid of my ghost, too?" It was such an honest moment. What could Cat say except the truth, or nothing. 

A couple of months ago Animal shared some fears about his father's health. I reassured him his dad's immune system was getting better everyday. Now that he was done with his treatment, his immune system could heal. Dad was going to start being able to go to the amusement park with us again, we could go to places with lots of strangers, he was going to start picking him up from school again and we weren't going to have to quarantine ourselves if we got sick anymore. "that's over now." I said. 

Animal answered, "but it isn't really over yet." And what could I say? The truth was, that that what I said was a half truth. I hadn't lied, but there are still going to be trips to the hospital. Lab work. CT scans. 

This was a really good book. 

Saturday, August 10, 2019


There are moments in your life that are so monumental that they are forever ingrained in your psyche.
These moments can be milestones or traumas. They can be joyful or painful.

The moment becomes a memory, the memory a story you tell yourself. Somewhere in that story, are truths, half truths, and lies that make up your reality and shape who you are from that moment going forward. Even as the moment is happening, you can have an out of body experience and realize that some smell, some taste, some word, some thing will always remind you of this exact moment.

While my husband was speaking to the anesthesiologist and surgeon about the surgery that had in moments, for me anyway, gone from bad to major. I tried to both listen and keep my son, 6 at the time, distracted.

I still had the wherewithal to realize that the outfit I picked for that day, would forever be linked to the day I found out my husband had cancer.


It was all wrong.

I wasn't there for this awful news. My husband, partner, and father of my child had been all alone when he got this information. He had to sit on that and wonder how he was going to tell me when I returned with our child. Our child who was already scared and worried about his dad. The reason I'd picked him up was so we could all spend some time together and we could reassure him that his dad was going to fine.

He did it. He told me. Calmly, and with resolve. Like he had already decided what was going to happen.

My mind was racing. I was shocked. I was trying to reign in my already anxiety ridden brain. I looked at my husband who was still talking. "I'm a survivor, this is just another time I'll beat the odds," he said. Then I knew he would, and that those clothes would forever be the cancer clothes.

The next half of the year. Diagnoses and treatment were full of anxiety, fears, anger, frustration, and love. I haven't worn the cancer outfit, but I have worn the top and the pants separately. There's a brief moment where I remember that moment. It's not a surprise, and it's OK. This is just a part of my husbands story, our story.

What I didn't expect was having that moment, when the Kona ice truck pulled up to my work. Surrounded by my co-workers, and families, just like I had the year before.

Before I knew.

Before everything changed.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

What We're Reading: Dog Man

In June I got some book recommendations for Animal.

I had noticed a boy reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I commented on the book and before I knew it the mom was telling me what books I should introduce Animal to based on his like for the same book.

She told me check out Big Nate and Dog Man. I had just seen a Dog Man in his scholastic book flyer, so on a whim, I bought it.

The day it came in I put it on a shelf in the laundry room. I proceeded to forget all about it.

A few days later it caught Animals eye. He pulled it off the shelf and smiling asked, is this for me? I nodded. He said, thanks, and took of with the book. A few days later when it was time to do our reading he pulled it out and asked if we could read this.

We did. He read it to me. I read it to him.

Then we saw a two pack at Costco. He asked his dad if he would buy it for him. My husband did. We devoured those. Sometimes I read to him, sometimes he read to me. He started taking them to his grandma's house so he could read it to their dog. Last week they were on sale at Target, so we bought two more and then we checked out the last one at the library.

Recently he was slouched over his desk. I asked him what he was doing and he answered, just looking at what always cheers me up. He was looking at a Dog Man book.

Dog Man is written by Dav Pilkey, the creator of Captain Underpants. At the end of every book is About the Author. It always tells the same story. A story my son can relate to. A boy with too much energy and a creative imagination. A boy that isn't always on task, but believes in his creations. I like that message. I'm a fan.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

What We're Reading: Your Seven-Year-Old Life in a Minor Key

Every summer I get a week off. Before parenthood I used the week to catch up with friends and family, clean my house and cook dinner every night. Now I tell myself I'll play the coveted role of stay at home mom.

Coveted by who? All? Most? Work out of the home moms.

Ever since Animal was an infant, all I wanted was to stay home and be there for every moment.

Except, I'm not cut out for that life.

When I'm home, I long to have a routine and schedule that includes: having a reason to put on real pants, adult conversations and mandated break times.

When I'm at work I wonder what Animal is up to. I want to enrich his life and build a strong bond between us. I want to be the classroom mom, I want to make pinterest worthy, from scratch lunches. I want to be patient, and perfect in every way.

The thing is, I'm not. I'm not patient. I'm not attentive. I'm trying, but I'm always failing. I'm not perfect. I know that's a silly thing to say. Of course I'm not perfect, no one is perfect. But I feel like I'm failing all the time.

I try to plan fun activities for my son and I. I take him to the amusement park, to the pool, to playgrounds and parks. I find activities at the library or his school. It doesn't matter what we do we spend some portion arguing. When I was a kid that was unheard of. Not the sulking or pouting of course, but the arguing. It drives me metaphorically insane, and to literal tears. I feel like the worst mom at least once a week. My son does not behave this way with his father, which only leads to disagreements between my husband and I.

This week at the beginning of my stay at home mom fantasy week, we took his bike out on the trail and rode to the park and then back. We argued as usual and while he sulked I sent an S.O.S text to a good friend. My son noticed how upset I was and apologized to me. He did his best, and did in fact change his attitude and we had a decent day.

My friend responded with this, "So much of this is his age. Anytime I have 7-10 year old patients. I know it's going to be a fight to do anything."

We went on to have a conversation about developmental stages.

A few days later we took his bike to the library, played tag at the park and then went in to check out some books. I found two books. The one I'm reading right now is called Your Seven-Year-Old Life in a Minor Key. It's all about the developmental stages of a seven year old. What a fucking God send. You know sometimes, it's just really helpful to know what are common and age appropriate stages that we all go through. Of course every kid is different and while some kids do a lot of a behavior, or just try it out once, we all go through these stages. As a parent it's important to know where a kid (your kid) is coming from. So that you can be better equipped to handle these moments. And at least for me, it is what I need to save my mental state.

Books to the rescue again!

Friday, July 12, 2019

What We're Reading: The Diary Of a Wimpy Kid

Very recently my son finished reading his first big kid book.

He just finished first grade, so he's been reading for a while. First the phonic books, then things like the Elephant and Piggy books by Mo Willems. He LOVED those books. We read a lot of other easy and first readers.

I tried to push him to read from The Magic Tree house series, he loved listening to those at bedtime and I was certain he could...but he didn't think he could.

Then one day Scholastic sent me an early release of Diary of a Pug (coming to a scholastic flyer near you soon). It was definitely a step above the books he loved, but it was also full of pictures and the story was so fun. A smart girl making an invention, and her sassy pug is telling the story. He read it with no complaints.

So I pulled out a boxed set of Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney I had purchased years ago (when there were only four). I threw them in his Easter Basket and hoped for the best.

He looked through them and was immediately curious. A few days later he strolls out with that book and shows me a picture. He's read around it and is amused. I ask him to start at the beginning because it sounds fun, and I want to hear more. Then casually say it will count as his reading log time.

HE STARTS READING. It takes him about 20 min to read 5 pages. He keeps stopping to make sure he read the word right, or to ask what something means or to comment on the pictures. He enjoys it. It's a fun story. I don't love it, but I love seeing the progress he's making reading 5-7 pages a morning. I love the confidence he's gaining. I love spending the time with him, being in this story with him, hearing his opinion about what the characters do, and his predictions about what will happen. Some mornings (that's when he reads to me) are rough because he's distracted, but this is also his homework so it needs to get done. But most mornings when he's reading to me, it's a little slice of heaven, because reading with my son is EXACTLY me being the mom I dreamed I would be. Not the one that's always in a rush. Not the one always feeling like I'm not doing my best. Not the one that doesn't know what she's doing. Not the one that feels like she's doing everything wrong.

I'm super proud of his accomplishment. I'm excited for the books he will choose for himself. I'm excited for all the things he can learn and be, because he can read. I'm maybe a little proud of me for helping him get there.