The Current Favourites for the Kids

I know I haven’t written about what I’m currently reading, but my own reading time has been cut into by an immense amount of cooking and housework (I’m feeling the pinch as my return to work date approaches and I keep thinking I can get ahead with everything- which would of course work if my kids didn’t have such healthy (and messy) appetites!!)

Nevertheless, reading time with the kids has not been in decline but rather, given the poor weather we’ve had, it’s on the increase! Quite enjoyably we have returned back to Julia Donaldson’s Room on the Broom as the current favourite (he loves watching the movie version almost as much!) and he’s getting very good at reciting his favourite bits. A relatively new book has also moved into the rotation being Bob Darroch’s Time for Bed, Little Kiwi. It’s a lift the flap book (the best kind!) delivering a surprise native NZ animal  on every page (Stewie the Tui is his favourite). However, the little kiwi didn’t hide on the last page so every time we get to the end I am forced to explain that page doesn’t open like the rest as he pleads with me ‘open it, open it’. It’s the little things. It’s a very nice bedtime book, with a nice segway for being told that it is, in fact, time to sleep!

V2 is currently enjoying Dr Seuss’s Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You? She loved it so much that this is our second copy. Apparently the first was too delicious to resist. Given it was hardcover, the cover is all that remains of copy #1. Copy #2 may not fare so well given it’s just a flimsy cardboard cover so while I diligently perfect my cow, bumblebee, sausage, horn and clock sounds, amongst other things, V2 diligently snacks her way to the end of the book, one dog ear at a time. (I should clarify that once a few pages have been unceremoniously torn and half consumed, I remove the book from her reach and it is returned to the shelf, as a memento of this time!)

 

Reading to the Kids

My kids have A LOT of books. Sometimes there is a new one here and there that makes it into the inner sanctum of the favourites on rotation however V1 is pretty reliable with his favourites. For those of you who have also read The Gruffalo so many times you’ve begun to give the snake, fox and owl actual personalities and wonder at why they didn’t just snap the mouse up quickly and scuttle away, rereading their favourites can be a tedious thing.

I’ve now discovered there is a light at the end of the Hungry Caterpillar, Room on the Broom, Gruffalo and Thomas speckled tunnel. V1 still loves to read all of these but now he has starting doing the sweetest ‘reading’ himself. He tries to inject a little bit of emotion and excitement as he recites (I say recites because if I can remember it from start to finish, it’s only sensible that so can he!) his favourite bits. It makes the repetition and monotony of reading the same thing day in and out, completely worth it.

While I will revisit a great book perhaps once or twice after the initial read, there are few that I would consider revisiting. This is not the case for kids. It’s amazing to watch V1’s face light up in wonder on every page, even though he knows them inside out and it’s most likely the third time we’ve read the book, in the same sitting. I love that kids can be entertained so easily by the books they love over and over again and can’t wait for him to read his favourites to me, over and over again. Maybe then when he gets to the end of each book I will be just like him and issue the request – ‘again?’.

To Dog Ear or Not to Dog Ear

I’m a strict no dog ear kind of a reader. I’m also the one you see squinting at a barely open book trying to read it because I don’t want to crease the spine.

I’m now beginning to see the merits of the dog ear. Since V2 has commenced crawling she finds my books easily. She’s quite partial to a chew and flip through. Apparently she likes Bronte because she’s chewed through more than a few corners. So. If she eats the corner, does it matter if I dog ear it before she devours it? If I just dog eared it, it would save me the hassle of every day once again finding the page I was up to because my bookmark is almost constantly never where I left it – that is, in the book.

What do you think? Is a dog ear and a creased spine a sign of engagement of the book? Or are bookmarks a must?

Book Shopping… With a Little One

I know I’m not the only one that gets almost as much joy out of shopping for books as I do reading them. However, since the little ones have come along book shopping has become one of those wish list activities that you do when you’re feeling really brave. It now belongs in the same category as bra shopping, going to the Dentist and drinking a cup of tea that is actually still hot. It’s nice to be able to do, but let’s face it – the realities of such a task requires a LOT of forward planning.

Looking back on my day, I now realise that grouping three of the above activities into the one day may have been overly optimistic. But I had scheduled the Dentist and had Dad booked to babysit the V2 for the appointment. V1 was safely at daycare so I traipsed the 40 min train ride into the city to really make a meal out of the trip.

It was before I had even reached the city where I encountered the first problem. Train stations without lifts. After awkwardly carrying poor V2 lopsided down the stairs (she loves her pasta and cheese and it’s really adding to the weight of the pram!) I was grateful for the momentary reprieve before the train arrived. She, however, wasn’t. She doesnt appreciate being stationary in the pram for longer than a couple of minutes so we had no sooner boarded the train when the ‘I really need to sleep, but there’s so much to look at’ cries commenced. After 5 mins of ‘shh, shh, shh’ and rocking the pram as best I could, the gazes of my fellow passengers were becoming a little too accusing. To be fair, I’m pretty sure none of them cared at all, but as a Mum with a crying little one you do start to think that everyone is looking at you when they meltdown so I gave her the cuddle she needed and let her pass out on my shoulder. Somewhat miraculously I managed to get her back into the pram, buckled up and off to Dad’s office and back from the Dentist without her even waking. Lucky for Dad!

She of course awoke as soon as she heard my voice when I got back to his office, so we had a quick morning tea break followed by my guzzling a too hot coffee (it’s either cold or boiling – I can’t win!) and we bravely set off for Dymocks. With a slight detour at 2 shops along the way (I had an enormous shopping list!) I soon realised the error of my ways.

Always, always, always go straight to the shop in which you are wanting to spend the most time. I wasted the 5 minutes of good mood she was capable of giving me while browsing for handbag size combs and pretty head bands for her at Priceline. By time I got to Dymocks I was utilising the pram as nothing more than a rather fancy bag carrier. It made browsing rather challenging. And I was very much questioning the virtue of my selfless act of ensuring she was asleep for Dad’s babysitting shift while I was at the Dentist.

After 20 minutes of me pleading with her to stay calm, stop dropping her rusk and stop trying to show off her gymnastics abilities by throwing herself backwards at every opportunity, I arrived at the counter to pay for 3 books (thankfully I had browsed online, as browsing in store is just not an option these days), 4 cards and some beautiful wrapping paper. She promptly scrunched the wrapping paper as I passed it over – good thing I was buying it. She tried to throw in a heap of extra purchases all within arm’s reach of where we were standing. When I tried to put her back into the pram so I could at least take the bag from the kind staff member serving me, she put up such a fight that I ended up covered in sweat and a fellow shopper offered assistance carrying my bags for me so I could have more hands to wrestle her into the pram. Several back arches later, a few indignant faces and a couple of screams close to my ear and she was latched in, very unimpressed. It was then that I was actually able to take a look at her face and realised she had mashed the rusk all around her face – and so the guilty parent feeling began to amplify. She was hot, bothered, bored of shopping and to add to it all she had food all over her face.

I was desperate to get home as fast as possible but V2 lulled me into a false sense of security by quieting down just as I walked past my favourite lingerie shop. Desperate for some new bras I dashed in, asked for anything in my size that I could quickly try to check it was still correct and then do a cry free online order from home. While she cried in the doorway of the change room (it was open so any passers-by got more than they bargained for that day!) I hopelessly requested assistance from the store attendants only to be ignored 3 times. I quickly put everything back on and sprinted out as fast as I could, still uncertain of sizing and very certain of the crumbling nature of my sanity and patience.

I breathed a sigh of relief as we arrived at the station on time for the train, only to miss it by 1 minute due to a rather sluggish lift at the station. After melting a bit more on the platform waiting for the train I realised that a 2-hour outing to the city involving coffee with the hubby, shopping for books, bras and birthday presents was simply not as much fun as it sounded and the fact that I was suddenly desparate for a bathroom only reinforced the thought.

I realise this was probably all avoidable if I didn’t attempt to overreach with so many tasks in the one day. But I very much believe in being optimistic about what we can achieve with the kids (and since I am currently on parental leave, I don’t get into the city very often so I try to capitalise!). Even if it means that almost every time you do brave an activity, be it a shopping trip, a dinner out or letting them crack the eggs for the cake you are making together, it’s better to have the faith in them and deal with the issues later. Practice makes perfect!  And if I didn’t try, I’d never get to visit Dymocks and online shopping for books is just not the same thing as browsing in store!

 

About Me and My Family

I’m a 30 something married mum of 2. I say 30 something as I’m quite prone to forgetting my age. Not in the ‘I can’t believe I’m over 30 kind of way’ but in the ‘did I actually have a birthday last year?’ kind of way. I know the kids did because I’ve once again purchased a raft of toys that I’ve already attempted to re-home, but did I have a birthday?’. My eyes say ‘yes’. My hair says ‘yes’. My energy levels say ‘Hell, yes’. Thankfully I have a twin sister who, when listening to my suggestion that we have a big 31st birthday to make up for the absent 30th, dutifully reminds me that it is in fact our 32nd year. Que gasp. Never fear, age is a state of mind, so they say, and since we, as Mums, very rarely have time to be in any other state of mind than that of the utter chaos of managing the kids, the house and the husband, it’s no surprise I often forget the state of mind which reminds me of my age.

It follows as only necessary that I find a new way to measure my time (outside of loads of washing, nappy changes, housework and finding the socks the washing machine simply had to devour) in books. I’ve selected the Dymocks 101, because if I’m honest, (and my husband will most definitely confirm this) I’m indecisive. Not with the kids, not with the dinner, the cleaning or most things related to the family, but in pretty much most things that relate to my leisure time (reading, movies, shopping, exercise, whether or not I should devour that fat laden, sugary treat for morning tea or if I should just eat the equivalent calories in nuts and fruit, thereby rendering my diet completely ineffective), I’m hugely indecisive. So, since I undertook the challenge of finishing the list in 2011 and loved the organised nature of knowing which book I would read next, I thought the structure would offset the chaos that prevails at home. It’s nice to have choices delivered right to you by many other book lovers, and as the list isn’t finalised, I am confident to say, I am not yet behind in my reading!

I should also mention I like to read…. a lot.

My better half

He’s a 30 something professional in the Property business who loves reading Fantasy, Fantasy and sometimes when he gets bored of that, Fantasy. He has introduced me to the joys of the genre, but I’ll never understand how he can read the same David Eddings book 8 times. The spines are literally falling off his books. So, while he too is a book lover (let’s face it, we’ve been married for nearly 10 years so he has to share the passion a little), he is of a vastly different ilk.

My kids

Our boy, V1 is 2.5 going on 10 – aren’t they all? He loves his books. Especially when they have trucks in them. Or tractors. Or Bulldozers. Or diggers. Did I mention he likes trucks? He has his favourites and it would seem he is very much like his father as it is a rare day that he allows a new book into his inner sanctum of those favourites. He takes the best ones to school to read to the class. He literally knows them cover to cover for memory so he can ‘read’ to the class. What I’m trying to understand is why this exceptional memory doesn’t apply to what he needs to do after he has taken his pants off to go to the toilet. But if I’m honest, I’m more proud of his ‘reading’ than if he did remember to actually put his pants back on.

Our chubby V2 is a little princess of 10 months. Already partial to her books, she likes anything that sticks up and out, or that she can tear off and eat (I’m literally wincing as I type).

Not Just Another Book Blog

Why this isn’t just another Book Blog.

Before you say it, this is not just another Book Blog. I hope to guide you in your choices, provide you with some laughs and by writing about my reading habits as a Mum of two, which as many of you will know is a wide ranging profession. As I know reading time is scarce for most Mums, I hope my suggestions will point you in the direction of those books well worth dedicating what precious little spare time you may have.

Being a bit bookish, I love my reading but I’ve learned to become very efficient with choices and my reading pace since the kidlets have come along. I’ve worked my way through the Dymocks 101 before (excluding the Bible, because, well it’s the Bible! – back in that hazy time known as pre-kids; a time for which I can no longer remember what I used to do to fill my days) and now since my days are filled with decisions as to which meals have the best chance of not ending up on the ground; which activities will result in the least amount of mess and the longest level of entertainment; which cupboard is the dustiest and whether or not your hair can be dirty for another day, making my way through the already compiled 101 list provides a nice break from decision making.

Since I’m doubtless not the only Mum who has worked hard and dedicated every spare snippet of time to a book that ultimately ended being a little underwhelming, I’m going to walk you through the 2017 Dymocks 101 (sometimes crawl, sometimes run, depending on how the kids sleep and how much work there is to be done!) and hopefully help you choose your next read.

I’ve been thinking about this for some time but since I have a rainy day, a sleeping 2.5 year old and 10 month old I’ve finally decided to put down my book (currently a re-read of Wuthering Heights), get up off my lounge which has, of late, become indented with the distinct impression of my butt in the repose of only someone reclining to read would recognize, and tell you about what we, me and my family, are all reading.

I’ll give you my thoughts on the books on the list as I progress through them, but since a large majority of my time is dedicated to the family, there’ll be a little bit about them too!

 

My blog

What this Blog is about.

This blog is a diary of my journey through the 2017 Dymocks top 101 books as a bibliophile and a Mum.

I’m taking the decision making out of my reading for the year (and most probably longer) to work my way through the list of top 101 books voted by Dymocks readers and this is where I will share my personal impressions of each book as I progress through them. In the least, I hope to entertain you but hopefully I will also help you to choose your books wisely and capitalise on the spare time you have.

Since a lot of my time is focused on kids, family and everything else, I’ll also share some general musings (or venting) on toddlers, parenting, being a wife and the transition back from stay at home Mum to working Mum, and of course – all things books!