Daddy Reads 2.18

My monthly update on what my youngest daughter and I read the previous month.

February is always a little bit of a slog for la familia Summers Sandoval. Or maybe it’s just me. I feel like the month is the thick of it when it comes to the academic year. It can be a challenge when the kids feel the same way.

We keep afloat, however we can. Last month, mi chiquita and I did so by continuing with the adventures and mysteries of the land of Droon.

City in the Clouds; The Great Ice Battle; The Sleeping Giant of Goll; Into the Land of the Lost; and The Golden Wasp (The Secrets of Droon #4-8) by Tony Abbott
Neal, Eric, and Julie continued their adventures in the magical land beneath Eric’s (or Neal’s?) basement. The drama of Droon–framed by the evil Lord Sparr and his primary nemesis, the creative Princess Keeah–grew more interesting and cluttered throughout these next five books in the massively popular series. My little one continued to love them, although even she started to get a little confused at some of the regular introductions of new characters, scenarios, and mysteries. Gladly, with the apparent demise of Lord Sparr (our oldest, who’s read through to book 13, already informed us that he’s coming back) she’s finally growing amendable to adding a non-Droon book into the mix. This makes daddy happy.

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Daddy Reads 1.18

My wife and I have been avid readers with our kids since birth. Our youngest (7) has recently started preferring chapter books to the straight story book. This has partly arisen from the fact that both her sister (10) and brother (12) don’t read much else. But it’s also due to the great Beverly Cleary (101). Last year we inherited a box of old books from my folks (ages redacted), mostly stuff my sisters grew up reading. Among them were several of the “Ramona” books. Needless to say, she fell in love with the fact that the stories were told from the perspective of a little girl like her. And, so, we’ve been on chapter books ever since.

Anyway, I (45) thought it’d be fun to keep track of what she and I have been reading this year. So here’s the first month of Daddy Reads:

Runaway Ralph (Beverly Cleary)
We read The Mouse and the Motorcycle late last year. She didn’t like it that much at first–after all, the protagonist is a preteen boy–but she warmed up to Ralph and Cleary’s writing style. This is the sequel. It’s not as good overall but there are lots more kids and animals, and several scenes of tense suspense, all making for a good first read of the year.

Coco
I’m not going to go searching for this to find the author, but this is one of the junior novelizations of the hit Disney movie. We loved the movie. These novelizations are never as good, but the kids tend to like them at a certain age if they loved the movie enough.

Mary Anne Saves the Day (The Baby-Sitters Club #3) Raina Telgemeier
These are graphic novel adaptations of Ann M. Martin’s famous book series. My older daughter got one of Telgemeier’s original graphic novels a year ago and then devoured everything else she wrote over last year. I can see why. The characters are real and empathetically developed. They deal with young girls’ lives in serious (and positive) ways. I enjoyed this one more than I expected.

The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet; Journey to the Volcano Palace; The Mysterious Island (The Secrets of Droon #1-3) Tony Abbott
Some years ago, when we were still in our first house, one of our neighbors–a teenage boy–gifted us a bunch of his childhood books. Among them were the first dozen or so of this series. I had never heard of it but apparently it’s been successful. The first book came out in 1999 and the last–the 44th!!–came out in 2010. As you might imagine, when they’re written this quickly, there’s not much to appreciate for the grown ups. That said, the kids love them. They’re predictable, derivative, and poorly described, but the adventurous Eddie, Julie, and Neal discovering the mysteries of the land of Droon–including Princess Keah, the Wizard Galen Longbeard, and the evil Lord Sparr–are more than enough to entertain them. We’re on #4 right now.

The Beatles and my boy

My son must have been about 1 when we started playing The Beatle’s 1 album for him. We had it in the car CD player for about 4 months straight when he was 3 and his little sister was 1. They’d sing along with their favorites, even though they really couldn’t pronounce much. An early fascination with the music of George Harrison, through YouTube videos of “The Concert for George” and “The Concert for Bangladesh” (which he was eventually given for Christmas), aided The Beatles process in our family life.

In short, the sounds of The Beatles are burned deep into their brains, in ways that go beyond recall and memory. After a few years of not listening to much of their music in the family car, over the last few months, my three kids have been listening to more of them. We brought the 1 album back into the car again (after a prolonged run of the Hamilton and Moana soundtracks) and, thanks to the movie Boss Baby, which featured the song “Blackbird,” even the youngest Summers Sandoval is grooving to the fab four.

This resurgence of The Beatles in our familial life has re-inspired my son’s obsession with the group and its members, that obsession he had when he was about 2, only now it comes in the form of an 11 year-old who can animate that obsession with Google searches and online music at will.

This also coincided with our purchase of a new family vehicle, a family van to be precise, which came with a free 3-month subscription to Sirius XM radio. After lamenting that there wasn’t a Beatles station on the service, a few weeks ago we started hearing an advertisement for an upcoming Beatles station on channel 18, scheduled to premiere on Thursday, May 18 at 9:09AM, eastern time.

So what did me and my boy do this morning?

We woke up at the crack of dawn, got ready for the day, and jumped into the car at 6:00AM so that we could be driving and listening to channel 18 at the moment The Beatles station premiered on Sirius XM. We stopped and got some bagels (he stayed in the car to keep listening), drove around town, and enjoyed some great music together.

In case you’re interested, the first song they played was “All You Need is Love.”

The Journey

In a matter of mere hours, for the very first time in our lives, my wife and I will be the parents of a kindergartener.

It seems like decades ago that my son was born. While I can remember life without children–vividly–that time feels long past. He feels like he’s been with us forever. I’ve watched him grow from this little baby into this amazing young kid, filled with energy, creativity, wondering, humor, and love. His entire life, a story contained within my memory.

Yet how much of our first five or six years of life do we count among the significant moments of our present selves? It’s so strange to me that all this time that we have spent as his parents is but a prologue to the story of his own life, as he writes it and reads it from a not too distant future.

Whatever he does, however he lives, it all takes on a new direction now. School will be the setting of the majority of his waking life for the next 13 years. It will seem like an eternity to him.

It will seem like a moment to me.

I love you mijo…

Booker T ain’t got nuthin’ on her

These are exciting days in the Summers Sandoval household. BooBoo (baby 3 of 3) has begun crawling while simultaneously fully embroiled in the war that will conclude with her two front-top teeth dropping. Both require adaptive strategies on our part, but nothing we can’t handle with our years of prior experience.

We have been less than effective on the teething front, though. Our trusted standby of the past–Hyland’s Homeopathic Teething Tablets–have been off the market for all of BooBoo’s 9 months and their other product (a teething gel) works about as well as rubbing your finger on her gums. Ice has proven useful, as well as some teething toys, but both have their limits with little BooBoo, whether due to boredom with the cure or generally frostiness.

This morning my wife decided to pursue one of the folk remedies she had heard some talk about–a green onion. You don’t chop it up for eating but just wash it off and give it to them as a chew toy. Maybe it’s something in the juices that she extracts from pulverizing it with her bottom teeth and gums, or maybe its just the new flavor and texture in her mouth, but it seems to be working wonderfully right now.

So in honor of a non-fussy baby…