Monthly Archives: December 2015

What we’ve read so far, week ten

Stack of books

“Some are old, and some are new…”

We’ve got a great mix of books on our shelves (and on the coffee table, and the floor…), from some of my own childhood books (Millions of Cats, What Do You Do/Say Dear?, One Woolly Wombat) to library books (Click, Clack, Moo) to gifts from friends (You and Me, Little Bear; You Are My I Love You).

Sudo with one paw on a copy of 13 Words

Sudo’s choice is 13 Words. She has a highly developed sense of the absurd.


Stuffed animal cow with a copy of Pat the Foodie

Cow’s choice is parody touch & feel book Pat the Foodie.

We’re eagerly awaiting a few more from the library, including two more from Chris Haughton (of Oh, No, George! fame). And we’re always taking recommendations – what’s your favorite read-aloud book?

See week eight’s reading here.


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Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

In late September, we took a tour of the Taza chocolate factory in Somerville. I highly recommend this tour; it’s informative and there are lots of samples! However, I have been bombarded with e-mails from Taza ever since. Mostly I delete them, but the most recent one caught my eye, because aside from promising $15 off (if you spend $100, so, no, not happening), it included a recipe for Peppermint Cookies.

The e-mail happened to arrive at a time when the baby was napping and likely to be napping a bit longer (she’d had her vaccinations that morning, which, predictably, made her scream and cry and then conk out), and I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I decided to try the recipe. It said it only made 12 cookies though, so I went ahead and doubled it; also, I didn’t have any candy canes or starlight mints on hand, so I used Williams-Sonoma peppermint hot chocolate instead. (It looks like they’re not selling this right now or I’d link to it. Meanwhile, here’s a hilarious take-down of W-S’s holiday catalog instead.)

Other than doubling the ingredients (amounts below), I followed the recipe instructions (link above), and they came out great! I would recommend chilling the dough for 15-20 minutes at least – and overnight is probably fine – so it’s easier to roll into balls.

1 stick butter
5 oz. dark (60%) chocolate with 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp of salt
4 oz. Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs (we had these from the tour)
2 oz peppermint hot chocolate (no need to double this amount, I used 4 oz. and there was a lot left over)

They came out uniformly round, flat, and soft – I baked them on a Silpat – and have kept well in a tupperware container thus far. This is a nice easy recipe that doesn’t even require a stand mixer, for those of you with minimalist kitchens. What’s your favorite holiday cookie recipe?

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Lift the Flap and WTF: Some thoughts on Where’s Spot? and Dear Zoo

Many picture books require a willing suspension of disbelief; to begin with, a staggering number of them feature talking animals. (“Talking animals,” incidentally, is one of the reasons books have been challenged. Sigh.)

Cover image of Dear ZooYesterday we read the classic Dear Zoo, which we’ve read before, and which I always feel the need to preface (or conclude) by clarifying that “that’s not how zoos work.” You don’t write to the zoo and have them send you animals in the mail for free. The postal service would probably not deliver a lion, anyway, not even with correct postage.

Cover image of Where's Spot?Then this morning we read Where’s Spot? In case you’ve forgotten, I’ll refresh your memory: in this “original lift-the-flap book,” a mama dog goes searching through the house for her pup. Is he in the grandfather clock? No, but a python is. Stop right there: if you found a giant snake in your grandfather clock, would you not be thrown for a loop? Spot’s mom is unfazed by this, however – she does not react at all – nor does she bat an eye at the alligator under the bed or a veritable menagerie of large, dangerous animals hidden in unlikely places throughout the house. Kid, if you find a hippo in the piano, come find me and we will leave the house and call Animal Control. Don’t just shrug and go on to check the lump under the rug.

Cover image of Tigger's BreakfastWe read one more book this morning, Tigger’s Breakfast. (You want talking animals? Try Hundred-Acre Wood. And exercise that suspension of disbelief some more, because here, a bear and a piglet are best friends, and for some reason a kangaroo and her joey are hanging out in a British forest. Sorry, Kanga, wrong hemisphere.) In Tigger’s Breakfast, Tigger – which, what kind of animal is he? Unclear. Definitely not a tiger – is hungry because he hasn’t had breakfast. Okay, sure, we’ve all been there. It seems like this is a new and surprising problem for him, though. Anyway, he visits all his friends to see if he likes what they’re having for breakfast. He does not like honey, haycorns, or thistles, but he does like extract of malt (what is that?) so he decides to live with Kanga and Roo and eat all their food. Problem solved! Only, you can’t just wander in and out of people’s houses up and down the block until you find one where there’s a breakfast food you like and then decide to live there.

Fortunately, children understand the nature of fiction; otherwise they would be developing some real misconceptions about the way the world works right out of the gate.


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Two months today




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What we’ve read so far, week eight (ish)

It’s never too early for early literacy! Even if she’s just lying on her back kicking her legs in the air instead of looking at the pages…

Box of board booksThis gift box is a handy way to store many board books. A new favorite is Sandra Boynton’s Happy Hippo, Angry Duck, which has a funny ending. We also love Oh No, George!, a gift from a friend.

Stack of books

We received I Love You Through and Through and I Love You As Big As the World and Noisy Farm from some cousins. The first two are wonderfully sweet without being sappy, and the third – and this is key – only makes noise if you press a part of the page. We also read The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Spanish. “…pero aun tenia hambre!”

Not pictured (because I forgot): 13 Words by Lemony Snicket with illustrations by Maira Kalman.

Stack of books

We’re getting a lot of books from the library, too, including three Patrick McDonnell books (thanks to Laura, children’s librarian extraordinaire, for the recommendation). I recognized the art right away – he’s the creator of the Mutts comic strip.

Stack of books in foreground, Sudo sleeping on couch in background

Sudo is bored by all this reading and would prefer to watch Doctor Who. The David Tennant episodes, it should go without saying.

Did you miss the previous “What we’ve read so far” post? It’s here.


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Therapy dog visit to Simmons College

Before I had a baby, I agreed to do a therapy dog event at Simmons College about two months after the baby was supposed to arrive. Pro tip: do not agree to do anything in the weeks/months after you have a baby. Fortunately, the Husband/Dad of the Year stepped in to assist. As it happens, Lyra slept through the whole thing, but it was still good to have two pairs of hands to manage the baby and the dog.

The therapy dog event was held on familiar territory, in the Simmons library, and was very well-organized: there were canvas drop cloths on the floor in case of accidents, a bowl of water, and a large, eager, but orderly crowd of students waiting to pet Sudo (and Lola, who was a no-show, so Sudo got all the attention to herself. Lucky dog).

flyer for therapy dog event

A flyer for the therapy dog event at the library, featuring Sudo

Sudo being petted

Lots of surface area to accommodate many petting hands

Sudo being petted

“This is great, can I stay here?”

Thanks to the organizers for hosting us, and good luck to the students on their finals!

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Lyra, almost eight weeks

We didn’t think we were choosing quite such a difficult name, but so far she’s been called LEE-ra (instead of LY-ra, the correct pronunciation; it rhymes with “bye”), Laura, Lauren, Laila/Lila, and Clara. She’s going to have to learn to spell her name as soon as she can talk, and have the self-confidence to correct people who mispronounce it (politely!), or she’s going to wind up with an identity crisis. But all that is for Future Lyra to worry about. Present Lyra’s main task is being adorable.

Lyra and Grandma in the rocking chair reading

Reading with Grandma! (The book is The Skunk by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Patrick McDonnell.)

Lyra and Sudo on the couch

Chilling on the couch with the pup. We’ll worry about good posture later.

Jenny holding Lyra near bookshelf

We’re mostly reading board books now, but she’s got lots to choose from when she’s older.

Lyra looking up at toys

It’s very important to spend at least half an hour every day lying on your back, looking at colorful toys dangling above you, kicking your feet wildly. Everyone does this, yes?

Lyra in recliner

It’s not clear in the photo, but this onesie from Uncle Greg has a picture of a little goat on it and says “Kid.” Stylish and clever.

Lyra in bees onesie, tongue sticking out

Buzz buzz buzz! Onesie from a fellow Robbins Library staff member.

Lyra looking up at dangly toys

So close, and yet out of reach.

Lyra in carseat with pink sweater on

Going places

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