Friday, July 17, 2009

Kid Stuff

Those of you who read this blog for the musical theater might want to take a break this week. I'm a little bit distracted by the six-month old baby bump that has stolen my midriff.

I had a little panic last week, 24 weeks into my second pregnancy, because a friend of mine said she wanted to get me a gift and she asked me what I needed. I smiled politely and said, oh no, we're all set. We kept everything from the first baby and so we don't need anything.

"You don't need ANYTHING?" she asked. "Not bottles, not diapers, not burp cloths, not bibs, nothing?"

And then my heart started palpitating. Because though I had really gotten excited about being pregnant again, I hadn't yet given a whole lot of thought to the fact that we were actually going to HAVE ANOTHER BABY.

My mom flew in. We went through all the baby clothes that had been stored in the basement, washed them, sorted them, organized them. We moved furniture so the baby now actually will have a place to sleep. And I started a list of what we still have and what we need to replace. I had forgotten how much STUFF a baby requires.

Truth is, we're in really good shape, and I feel much more prepared now that I've started "nesting." I'm just organized enough that I can get back to work and maybe even be productive for three more months before all hell breaks loose. But since we've been thinking about it, I wanted to share with you some of the amazing kid things that have been helpful for us. THIS IS NOT A REQUEST FOR GIFTS. We already HAVE these things. I just wanted you to know about them because they have made our lives better.

1. The Alarm Clock
I know this isn't a BABY item. But as soon as my daughter started sleeping in the "big girl bed" we realized that she could get OUT of the big girl bed whenever she wanted, and that was usually much earlier than we were ready for her to be up. This alarm clock changes colors at the pre-set time, and you just teach your kid not to get out of bed until it's green. The clock glows yellow all night -- a lovely nightlight -- and then when the "alarm" goes off, it changes to green. If the kid sleeps through it, so be it. But if the kid wakes up early, she knows to stay in bed (or in our case, at least in her room) until it turns green. My daughter's first words of the day are usually "IT'S GREEN, MOMMY! IT'S GREEN!" (I'm told there is an actual alarm function, but we've never needed it. Kids wake up early, y'all.)

2. The Mesh Feeder
Okay, a toddler item. I was surprised everyone in the world didn't have these. When your kid is transitioning from baby food to solid food, you can put small bites of real food (especially fruits and vegetables) into the mesh bag and they chew on it. Good for teething, good for nutritious snacks, and you don't have to worry about choking. Every time I used one some other mom would stop me on the street and say "where did you find that?" Now I think they're everywhere. Smart invention.

3. Tickety Tock
Molly's favorite book, and mine, hands down. Okay, so we're biased. Daddy wrote it. Mary Grand Pré illustrated it. (She did the Harry Potter books, and you can recognize her style.) The story, about a tailor named Schmuel and his magical clock, comes from Jason's musical THE LAST FIVE YEARS. It's a gorgeous book, and it makes me sad that it's kind of hard to find unless you know to look for it. So look for it. Okay, shameless plug over.

If I think of anything else I'll add it to the list. But perhaps it's time to get back to work, while I actually have the opportunity to do so.

Friday, July 03, 2009

What to Read Now. And Why.

Every summer there are book lists released of the 100 greatest books of all time, and I've usually read a good percentage of them already. I love the classics but I read many of them in high school and college. Since then I've been reading mostly contemporary fiction -- more trade paperbacks than disposable beach smut, more Ursula Hegi than Dan Brown -- and lately more and more non-fiction. But I look forward to these book lists in the case that they may reveal some gem that's just dying for me to read it. (In all of my free time.)

I loved the list that came out in Newsweek this week. The article is called "What to Read Now. And Why." It's a list of books that "open a window on the times we live in, whether they deal directly with the issues of today or simply help us see ourselves in new and surprising ways." The list is fascinating, and in the fifty books they mention, I've only read two. A third is on my bedside table, thanks to a birthday gift from my friend Jamie, who is apparently ahead of the curve.

Looks like I know what I'm going to be doing this summer.