Monday, June 27, 2011

The PaperHOME

I think my site needs a dash of Joey. Grandma Joey.

Therefore, in an effort to channel her love of journaling, I am going to interlace snippets of our home life within the book and product reviews. In addition to promoting the store, I also hope to be able to use this site as a way to take a few moments to reflect and record the memories we are making before I lose them forever.

I have tried countless times to keep a journal of my life as a mother and have failed miserably. Maybe this is one small way I can do it. It will at least be a way to record some of the fun - albeit, censored - memories we make, as well as a good place to put the family into family-owned business for our loyal Paperhouse customers and Joey readers.

As the days have been getting warmer and longer and the kids getting older, we’ve been able to experience lots of firsts as a family ….

 … with the most significant being the first few consistent days of beautiful weather. We experienced the first family bike ride together on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in Harrison, Idaho.

Followed up by ice cream!

And Joey’s first-ever cone all to herself.

The circus came to town and brought with it two separate firsts for us: the big show itself, as well as a lesson in clear and proper annunciation. The first “first” is quite obvious, of course. And as you can see in the photo, Joey couldn’t pull her eyes away. She especially loved the trapeze artists and an act that featured beautiful and very well-trained birds.

The second “first,” the one dealing with annunciation, took us a bit more by surprise. It’s always funny to hear grown-up words come out of a child’s mouth, and this instance is no exception. The boys had been talking about the circus for weeks, ever since they had started seeing the posters all over town. They would talk about all the things they’d get to see … the tigers, the lions, the clowns, cotton candy, sodas, etc. Except, I don’t think they ever said the actual word “circus.” When we got into the tent and after we had made our way to our seats, Brock sat down, scooted over to me and excitedly asked, “Are we here Mom? Is this the cervix?”

Jack (left, in black) and Brock (in yellow) are Cars nuts. Absolute fanatics. And they have been looking forward to the sequel for months. Alex and I wanted to make it special for them, so we made sure Cars 2 was the first movie they ever got to see in the theater. And we did it in spectacular fashion, complete with a jumbo bucket of popcorn and sodas … and four trips to the bathroom.

And perhaps the best first: my first long run since the St. Joe River half marathon. The run itself wasn’t the best part, although it wasn’t half bad … I ran a paved trail along the lake. But the best part was that I got to share it with my dad. He and I took off early Sunday morning; he rode his bike, and I ran the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes from Chatcolet to Harrison, about an 8-mile trek. The plan was to leave early enough to arrive just in time for church. That almost happened … I was just in time for Communion.

My only regret? No photo! Trust me, though, it was beautiful beyond words; the sun rising above the mountains, the stillness of the water, the emptiness of the path ... and especially the time spent with my dad, which didn't require any words. Father-daughter relationships rarely do, though. And perhaps that's what makes them so special.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Just in time for summer, a Weiner roast

It used to be that puzzle time on the kitchen counter was a pretty innocent way to spend an hour. Even if it happens to be while listening to the nightly news as I botch another recipe with my proclivity to confuse tablespoons with teaspoons.

But that was before Anthony Weiner got a hold of a camera and a Twitter account. Since then, watching the nightly coverage with two three-year-olds has made for a very interesting take on national news.

Rep. Anthony Weiner is the Democratic New York congressman currently entangled in controversy surrounding a photo sent over his Twitter account. The photo in question was intended for a 21-year-old girl from Seattle with whom the potential New York City mayoral candidate – and very married politician – had been socializing on the popular networking sight. Instead, it was sent in such a way that the content of the message was visible to all of the congressman’s Twitter followers.

The three-year-olds in question (like most of us will agree) understand that wiener is, quite simply, a funny word. And when it’s being used on a “Mommy show” – something they normally would tune out for being too boring and void of bright colors and silly bodily noises – it becomes a hilarious word. Now, like a recipe that sort of creates itself, pepper in the words “picture” and “photo” and strategically say them right after the congressman’s last name, and you have something these two young boys (and perhaps, many of us) consider sheer comic genius.

All during the six-o’clock news.

Obviously my problem isn’t with the word itself; I didn’t even bother trying to hide my own giggles. And it is, after all, the guy’s name. Not to mention the fact that I’ve been caught saying far worse while destroying an otherwise perfectly good recipe. It’s the arrogance – not to mention the icky-ness – of the act itself.

Weiner spent the better part of the past week playing footsie with the media, clearly hoping his charm and inconsistent brush-offs would keep them and all of their pesky questions at bay. Unfortunately for the congressman, the new era of investigative bloggers didn’t swoon over him the way young girls appear to. Like Larry Craig in the airport bathroom, his story never did add up, and that’s what’s offensive. Where’s the shame? The humiliation? My preschoolers even understand that – as silly as it is – it’s still embarrassing subject matter. 

The puns we can make are infinite and equally hilarious – to all age groups, apparently - and we all have a pretty good idea what the “tweet” consisted of. (I know a couple little boys who would gleefully tell you). But the truth is, lewd subject matter is well … subjective, so we should probably cut the guy some slack. After all, when you consider his voting record, it’s quite possible the “offensive” picture in question was merely a shot of a balanced budget.

This column was originally published in the June 8, 2011 edition of the St. Maries Gazette Record.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Book review: "Press Here" by Herve' Tullet

There are so many excellent kids’ books flooding the market (Dr. Seuss comes to mind, as do the Bright Baby board book series), that sometimes it’s hard to sit down and pick one to write about – or, in this case, gush over. The truth is, how good a book is really depends on the level and stage of development your child is in. And I’ve never found one single book that holds an older child’s attention as well as intrigues an infant more than Herve’ Tullet’s book Press Here.

Clever and effortless, Tullet’s work sets the stage for fun and interactive story time. Joey and the boys alike request it multiple times each day; Joey does so by pointing and babbling in its direction, whereas Jack and Brock say, “Mom, we wanna read that fun dot book.”

Author and illustrator of several children’s books, Tullet mixes simple art with even simpler instructions. But the reaction is anything but ordinary.

Each page displays bright, colorful dots with a sentence or two of instruction, such as “Five taps on the red …” The result of completing the instructions appears when you turn the page to find that the dots have either changed color, multiplied or moved.

The grandkids huddle around Grandpa for yet another re-telling of their new favorite book.

My three-year-olds enjoy it because they’re old enough to understand that what they have done has created a change but still too young to truly figure it out. They are intrigued each time we turn the page, even when they know what’s coming. Joey (who is now 15 months) doesn’t quite get that she has affected something, but is so enamored with the beautiful colors and interaction that it doesn’t matter. It’s truly a perfect book for children of any age.

My only complaint is that it’s not available as a board book. Joey is still too rough on books to allow her to play with this on her own, and if she had it her way we’d read it all day long and only allow for sippy-cup-refill breaks.

Book it to The Paperhouse

Alex and I are thrilled to be a part of the first annual St. Joe River Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K
this Sunday, June 12th. The Paperhouse -- as well as several other local businesses -- will be open the day of the race and will be celebrating with fun promotions and tons of great sale prices.

Created by St. Maries Gazette Record

The centerpiece of our special opening will be a visit from one of our favorite local authors, Travis Griffith. Griffith's first book, a children's story, Your Father Forever (makes a fantastic Father's Day gift) will be available.

Be sure to also stop in for our "Beat Devon to The Paperhouse" promotion. I'll be running the half-marathon (which starts at 8:15 a.m.), and anyone who stops by before I finish and spends $50 or more will receive 20% off his or her entire order.The best part ... I'm super slow, so you'll have LOTS of time to take advantage of this promotion.

A portion of the entire day's sales will be donated to the St. Maries Foundation for Education, a local non-profit organization dedicated to supplementing local schools with extra funding, something that couldn't be more important - or timely - considering the budget shortfalls and cuts that are sure to affect our schools.

Lots of great stuff going on during a very exciting day for our community. If you're in the area, we'd love to have you stop by and check us out.