Blame it on the weather

I always knew I was allergic to winter, but what I have recently discovered is that summer is not my thing either. I love the sunny 70’s , but a little heat wave can make me not only hot but also hot-tempered. I become slow, slow-witted, under-slept and over-caffeinated. I have zero tolerance for slightest imperfections and inconveniences. Ironically, those come in bunches when the temperatures hit 90’s. For example, last week I got to wait at the doctor’s office for an hour just to hear that I would have to reschedule after all. Or I would bring the boys to a park with sprinklers just to see that they are off on Tuesdays. Not cool. Just as not cool as my assumption that one lady I was chatting with at a park was a grandma. She was a mom. Speaking of being a mom. Extreme weather is not in my favor.  It does not help me being a good mom. I overreact, dramatize, yell, cry… with or without a reason. I’m too hot to hang out by the stove so I feed my children take-out and ice-cream. I let the boys watch an extra episode to prolong my ice-coffee break. Mea culpa!

This week is a bit cooler and I’m slowly reviving. The fact that I’m writing this post proves that my brain has stopped melting and resumed thinking.  And what I’m thinking is that next year I’m going to enter the summer heat-wave more prepared.  I’m planning to hire a full time housekeeper for my family and send myself on a cooling vacation to Alaska. The only thing I need is to land some lucrative publishing deal to afford such extravaganza. If I don’t, I will have to go with a cheaper version of my plan and buy myself a statement T-shirt: “Blame it on the weather!”


117. “No, David! by David Shannon

Whenever young moms get together and talk about their toddlers or preschoolers, as all young moms do, even if they claim they have a life outside motherhood and prefer other conversation topics, there is always a story about a child being in a “NO phase”. Interestingly, although we complain about our children, we, moms, are in that phase too. Most likely, we say the NO word much more often than our children do. No, don’t do this, no, don’t go there, no, there is no dessert before dinner… How often have you used it today, fellow mom?

David’s mom used to say “no” quite a lot. Well, David was giving her lots of opportunities. He would draw on the wall, enter the house in his muddy shoes, flood the bathroom or break a vase as a result of an indoor baseball game. “I said no, David!” But when David’s eyes filled with tears, David’s mom knew that it was a right time for a little “Yes, David… I love you”

Yes… don’t we love our little ones regardless of how many no’s per day we have to say, scream or mumble in their direction. Or perhaps, the more protective no’s, the bigger the yes, for I love you?

On the practical side, apparently the forbidden fruit will always sound tempting, so how about limiting our don’t and mustn’t in favor of positive guidance, which not only might save us from nervous breakdown but also prove more fruitful a parenting method.

Coming back to the book, David Shannon did it again: he wrote a very engaging and entertaining story, which he illustrated with very original art. I really like the warm and bright colors, although I have to admit that  it took me a while to get used to David’s a bit disturbing features.

116. “Mr. Monkey’s Classroom” by Jiwon Oh

The first day of school is certainly an exciting experience, but it can also be a very traumatic one. So many new faces in a new place! It might be overwhelming and it surely was for me. I had always thought that having an older sibling would have eased the pain, but lately, I have been having second thoughts…

Mouse was one day away from his first day of school. According to his friend, Cat, there was a lot to be done, like buying new school gear and getting a good night rest. Mouse played along. Mouse stayed cool. All in all, the school couldn’t be that bad if his friend, Cat, was there too. But was she? After Cat had met her old school friends on the way to school, Mouse basically didn’t exist  anymore. Mouse was alone when  finding his classroom, meeting the teacher and… eating lunch. How not to lose appetite!  Cat noticed Mouse leave the cafeteria and she understood. Mouse needed some explanation. Whatever it was, it worked and it completely turned Mouse’s first day of school around.

If your younger child struggles to decipher the strange acting of his or her older sibling at school, “Mr. Monkey’s Classroom” offers helpful answers. At the same time, it reminds the older siblings, that perhaps helping the younger brother or sister during the first days of school is much cooler than simply cruelly disowning them.

The book effectively deals with a delicate social issue, relevant to many young students, and it does it in a very cute and subtle way. Besides, the book surely stands out thanks to the unique illustrations, which are basically bright, Asian-style collages, filled with humor and engaging details.

115. “Chicken Soup” by Jean Van Leeuwen

You might have other ideas to fight off a nasty cold or flu, but where I come from, a pot of chicken soup is supposed to do the trick. Every time someone would sneeze or cough in our family, my mom would run out to the store to buy fresh chicken, vegetables and other ingredients, and before long the whole house would smell like homemade chicken noodle soup, even though we could barely smell it with our stuffed noses.

At the farm, “Mrs. Farmers has taken out the pot!” as well. Cow told Sheep, which told Pig, which told Goose… And so the scoop reached the chickens, which  immediately raised the alarm: “Run for your lives!” All chickens ran, except for Little Chickie with a cold in his beak. Even though he finally decided to hide, he couldn’t help sneezing and coughing, which quickly gave away his hiding spots. Mr. Farmer found the sick Little Chickie and brought him to the kitchen, where he was greeted with a nice bowl of hot vegetable soup.

“Chicken Soup”  is a wonderful remedy for runny noses and fevers. The laughs you will get from this funny story and hilarious pictures by David Gavril, will speed up the recovery. Guaranteed.  It is literally, a feel-good story.

27. “Piglet and Mama” by Margaret Wild

Piglet has lost its mama. As it is looking for her, it meets different animals, who want to play with Piglet. Dog wants to roll in the mud, Sheep wants to make daisy chains, Duck even wants to cuddle. Nothing appeals to the little Piglet. Finally it finds its mama, or rather she finds it. They cuddle, roll in the mud, make daisy chains… They have so much fun together, doing the very same things the other animals suggested.

But, do you need to hear it from me? Everything has a different meaning with Mama, doesn’t it?

I fully recommend this book for every young mom, for two reasons. First to celebrate being a mom. This simple, almost minimalist story, with just a few little words paints a great picture of motherhood. When Piglet calls its Mama, I basically hear my own son calling me, those million times over the last three years. It sounds different every time: happy, scared, tired, smiley, sleepy, trusting… He will actually call me in a moment after he wakes up. That one word “mama” heard from our own children gives such a deep meaning to motherhood.  Secondly, read this book if the motherhood overwhelms you. Perhaps you can’t take  a shower, finish your dinner, do shopping, because your child needs YOU every minute. But you now what, soon your little baby will go to school and you will have all the time in the world. And you will miss hearing “mama”.

As a stay-at-home mom I have spent most of my last three years with my son. I think he is the only person who has stayed with me one on one for so many hours per day and for so many days. As a result we’ve basically become two in one. And I have to admit, he’s been a mama’s boy indeed. While my husband was voicing his concerns about me curbing our boy’s independence, I was just being a mom. Now, he still needs ME for his good night read- and-cuddle session and he calls ME when he gets a booboo, but he loves being his father’s little buddy, enjoys spending time with his grandparents and he ignores me when his favorite sitter is around. I guess there is nothing like too much attention to your baby when it is done wisely.

Enjoy the bond with your little one as you read the story by this Australian writer and smile at the cute pictures by Stephen Michael King.