Monthly Archives: May 2014

Hey, It’s Franklin

We’ve been reading a few Franklin books over here with Aoife. Right now on her shelf, we have Franklin’s New Friend and Franklin Rides a Bike. The age range is a bit beyond 2 years old, with Amazon putting them solidly in the 3-8 year old camp. However, Aoife loves pointing out various details in the illustrations and talking about the different animals. The words and phrases in the book are easy enough to modify to your child’s own level, and I was actually surprised to see that Aoife was perfectly willing to sit through the entirety of a somewhat longer picture book (even two times … and three times before bed).

Franklin 25th Anniversary

If you didn’t already know, Franklin is a young turtle who can do lots of things but learns even more as he goes through all the milestones of childhood. The Canadian series (that was something I learned when researching) has been adapted into two different TV series, one of which I’ve seen and with which I have been pretty satisfied.

The books handle those childhood milestones in a way that is balanced and reasonable, which means that kids can relate to them and even see proper behaviors modeled for them. Franklin makes mistakes, and he usually has to answer for them. Kids can relate to both the mistakes and the ways that Franklin overcomes them.

But here’s the real point of these thoughts. Every other animal in the Franklin universe simply goes by their animal name: Bear, Moose, Beaver, Fox. Why is Franklin the only character who has an actual name? What do they do when there is more than one of that animal? Bear 1 and Bear 2? Mr. Bear and Mrs. Bear?

I can suspend belief when it comes to having predators and prey animals in the same classroom, sharing Tinkertoys and what-not. But why isn’t Franklin just called “Turtle”?

Is there another named character somewhere in the series that I’ve missed? Is this ever explained? Am I crazy for thinking about this every time I read to Aoife?

Bookshelf Hack and Poop

I can’t wait to see what search terms lead people to this post.

First, I have a little life hack that you may find helpful if, like me, you have things propped up on bookshelves and also have a plethora of rocks carefully selected by a toddler. You may remember my bookshelf. A couple of days ago, it got bumped and my priceless work of art fell behind it. If you’ve ever tried to move a bookshelf holding a few hundred books, it’s not all that fun. I wanted to not have to do it again, and I discovered an elegant yet simple solution: I grabbed one of the rocks collected by Aoife and slipped it behind the picture.

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It’s unobtrusive and not readily visible, and it will prevent me from having to shimmy the bookshelf away from the wall and squeeze my arm into a space an inch wide. Super easy? Yes. Super awesome? Heck yeah!

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Which brings me to the subject of poop. Not really, but Everyone Poops is one of Aoife’s new favorite books. We picked it up at the library mainly because we’re getting into the potty training phase and I thought it might be helpful to normalize the whole process. I remembered hearing about it when it first came out in the US in the early 90’s and just recalled the jokes I’d hear about it. Is a book about poop joke-worthy? Yeah, probably — and this one knows it. Is it also a great topic to talk about with your kids, that we probably wouldn’t want to talk about too much on our own? Of course!

Aoife loves this book — whether it’s the simple pictures, naming the animals, or just the fun of pointing out the poop on each page, we end up reading this one frequently. Reviewers evidently didn’t feel the same way. A review in Publishers Weekly stated that kids will likely enjoy the book, “but their parents may well not want to read to them about it.” To that I say — so? There are a lot of things I don’t want to read about to Aoife: bullying, poverty, sex, racism, and only using a purple crayon when maybe your favorite color is actually yellow. But to present an age-appropriate subject in an age-appropriate and, above all, interesting format is crucial for parents and children. 

I realize I’m complaining about reviews written over a decade ago, but they struck me as being written by non-parents, or worse — people without a sense of humor or wonder about the world. What does a whale’s poop look like? I’d honestly never thought about it, but by golly, you know I’ve Googled it since reading this book. (Psst — let me save you the trouble.)

Would you read about poop to your child? Do you consistently typo “poop” like “popp”?

 

Loving lately …

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Great article in The Guardian – “Growing up, I assumed that the newspaper on the breakfast table must be assembled by people who truly knew what they were doing; then I got a job at a newspaper.” I think this can be said about any profession — or parenthood. We are all learning as we go and sometimes making mistakes and we can’t just expect perfection.

BabyLit – I love every single product here!

Merrick features great step-by-step tutorials for making clothing. I may have to search for just the right fabric for this easy circle skirt

Not only do I love the bunting made by Lucy at Attic24, but I also love the inspiring behind the scenes look at a magazine photo shoot.

And finally, a big thank you to all who have served or are currently serving our country. Without you, we would not enjoy the freedoms that we currently do.

 

Review: The Strain

The Strain
The Strain by Guillermo del Toro
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The first half of this book was pretty gripping and kept me interested in what was going to happen next and how everything was going to pan out. I liked the idea that vampires are something to be feared, not loved, and yeah — these guys are scary. I felt that the second half got a little repetitive, and I was turned off by the idea that maybe there are more … “organized” vampires as was implied toward the end?

After completing the book, I’m left with more than a few unanswered questions — to be expected with the first book in a trilogy — but I don’t care enough to learn the answers. (Sorry, honey!) I think I like my “undead” creatures to be more mindless and less “secret society”.

View all my reviews

Powerhouse Pancakes

If you know us, you know that pancakes feature strongly in our weekend routine. We had a special day earlier this week with extra time in the morning, so we took our usual pancake recipe and mixed it up a bit.

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Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. We were nearly out of flour, so I dumped some old-fashioned oatmeal in our food processor and blended away. You can do the same for this recipe — make plenty, and you can store the rest in an airtight container in the fridge. The freshly-made oat flour really added some “oomph” to the pancakes. A little vanilla and cinnamon in the batter, and we were ready to go.

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Powerhouse Pancakes (makes 8-12ish pancakes)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups oat flour (directions above)
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups soy milk (or your preference)
4 tbsp melted Earth Balance
3 tbsp pure maple syrup

3 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine both kinds of flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine soy milk, Earth Balance, maple syrup, and corn syrup in another bowl. Add the liquid to the flour mixture and mix — I usually use a whisk to help eliminate lumps. Once it’s mixed, add the vanilla and cinnamon and stir.

Heat griddle or skillet over medium to heat. If your griddle/skillet is not nonstick, then prep it accordingly. Once hot, pour the batter onto the griddle or skillet to form circles (or other shapes – my mom was always a pro at making turtle-shaped pancakes). The batter will start out fairly thin, but the oats help it thicken up.

Cook the pancakes for a few minutes on each side, until they are golden brown. Before the batter is fully cooked is a perfect time to sprinkle on any fruit, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, or other add-ins. 

I’m not sure if I accurately estimated the amount of pancakes that can be made using this recipe. Too many pancakes is never a bad thing — they can be frozen or kept in the fridge to be eaten later in the week for breakfast or a snack. The oatmeal adds a great heartiness to the pancakes, and they have fantastic flavor.

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My latest favorite toppings have been adding coconut to the batter, spreading the pancakes with peanut butter, and then adding strawberries in syrup. Pretty decadent, but just perfect for a weekend … or when you just want to spend a little extra breakfast time with the family. (Excuse the slightly blurry photo – I was to eager to dig in!)

Abstract Art

Abstract art is my favorite kind, both to look at and to create myself. I love getting caught up in the colors, shapes, and textures that cover the canvas.

You may remember this beauty that now sits on my bookshelf:

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I’ve been inspired lately by abstract landscape photography. There are some great examples on my Pinterest board for painting inspiration. I’d also been inspired by a recent post by The Nester. I have some acrylic paint sitting around just dying to get used, so during a recent naptime I decided it was time.

The one I created the other day is not necessarily an abstract landscape, but it follows the same idea. I used an old painting that I had done several years ago and never liked, just covering it up with white, black, and yellow.

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I added the paint directly to the canvas and just started mixing with my paintbrush with back-and-forth strokes. I may go back and do it over, because some of the lines from the old painting show through and create a texture that I don’t want. Or, I might live with it for a few days and decide the texture adds character, who knows.

I tend to get intimidated by a blank canvas, but this method of painting is simple and (dare I say?) foolproof. It’s freeing to take an old painting and cover it up with something new and improved, and it does away with some of the inhibitions you feel with a fresh canvas.

What’s your favorite kind of art? 

Loving lately…

Here are a few things I’ve been enjoying online lately:

The Ultimate Guide to the Independent Princess – great reading list for kiddos of all genders.

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Basic Auto Upkeep  – a nice introduction to a few things that make your ride a little smoother.

More Nature for Kids – now that the weather is somewhat consistent, it’s time to get outside!

DIY Laundry Detergent – I’ve used a similar formula (minus the Crystals) for the past couple of years and absolutely love it. You can’t beat spending $20-$30 for 2 years worth of laundry detergent.

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Tiny Stone Cottage in France – mainly I just want a tiny stone cottage in France.

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I loved this list of photos challenging stereotypes in toys, and it led me to Lammily, a doll with average proportions instead of the ridiculous Barbie proportions that are so popular. Fully funded and ready for shipping in November!