GoodReads Best Books of the Year Awards

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | Comments Off

Choice_logo_90x107

Vote now for your favorite books!

Let’s see, I voted for Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Sideways on a Scooter, and The Wilder Life. I was sadly unable to vote in the fiction category, because, well, it’s been a low fiction reading year (although I’m loving the short stories in If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, and have Stephen King’s new book on my bed table in all of its rather large and daunting glory). And it’s awful, but the only one of the “Best Books” I’d read was Tina Fey’s–and although I liked it, it wasn’t.

Go vote!

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Dentist! No Dentist! Dentist!

Monday, November 28th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | 2 Comments

On friday I looked at my iCal and realized–dang, someone has a dentist appointment on Monday! Because I brilliantly failed to categorize it, though, I couldn’t tell who.

“It’s all of them,” my husband said. “We got cards in the mail last week.”

I thought that seemed funny. I thought it was a little soon, but I didn’t think about it very hard. And then last night, I looked again, and the dentist appointment was at nine. Which couldn’t be right, I never make kid dentist appointments at nine. “It’s at eight,” Rob said. Just to be sure, I got out of bed, went to find the cards, looked at the time on one and—eight.

So this morning I rounded everyone up and rushed them into the car, with a little morning madness because it was a Monday after a vacation and a little stress, in part because someone’s body decided that an extended bathroom visit was in order precisely at the moment we needed to leave, but nothing compared to the way it would have been a year or two ago.

We left the house at 7:40 and marched into the dentist right on time.

The dentist’s office was very surprised to see us. No, they said, their appointments are in January! At 8:00.

I hauled four peeved kids (a: they like the dentist and b: they felt rushed through breakfast) out. At 8:15, I dropped the first two off at school. At 8:20, I got a voicemail from the dentist. They’d considerately tried to figure out why I did this thing and realized that I had a dentist appointment. At 9:00.

At 8:35 I walked the other two kids into school, signed them in, and got back in the car.

At 8:55 I arrived back at the dentist.

I know it’s funny. But it threw me off. It took an hour of recovery (and, yanno, tooth chiseling and whatnot, violently spraying teeny weeny fire hoses and sharp pointy implements) before I could laugh. I’m still regrouping. Why does this kind of thing–ultimately nothing but dumb and inconvenient–BUG me so much?

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Results Achieved

Friday, November 25th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | Comments Off




Results Achieved

Originally uploaded by kjda

Through a judicious application of bribes and threats.
KJ Dell’Antonia
sent from my iPhone



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Wyatt in a tree

Friday, November 25th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | Comments Off




Wyatt in a tree

Originally uploaded by kjda

KJ Dell’Antonia
sent from my iPhone

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Cool Pout.

Friday, November 25th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | Comments Off




Cool Pout.

Originally uploaded by kjda

KJ Dell’Antonia

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Surprise! The Kitten Would be a SURPRISE!

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | 2 Comments

I always forget I know some of you IRL. So–it’s a Christmas surprise. More anon.

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Should We Get a Kitten

Sunday, November 20th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | 4 Comments

I’ve lost my mind, I know I have. I am thinking of getting a kitten. I nice Siberian, because I was very allergic as a kid, although I seem ok now, and they are supposed to not produce the protein that causes allergies. (Dr. Oz says so, so it must be true!)

Who thinks our dog, who is largely interested in other animals but not aggressive, would enjoy
the companionship of a cat? Will I? Or is this just another one of my patented really bad ideas?

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Behaving Badly

Saturday, November 19th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | 1 Comment

I didn’t sleep well last night. In fact I’m a few nights down, enough for me to be thinking I jinxed myself by saying on Motherlode last week that for the moment I’l sleeping well without “mother’s little helpers.” In part it’s our dog, who feel he needs to alert us every time something stirs upstairs or outside. Since the porcupine incident, he’s been extra wired. And in part it’s my brain, which feels it needs to alert me every time it feels nervous or regretful or anxious. All night it keeps chattering away at me. “Yo!” it says. “What are we gonna write about tomorrow? How did we do today? Are you sure? Should we rethink? Maybe we should rethink!”

What I’m rethinking is my bedtime reading. Usually I read one of my stack of buddhist style advice books, which I find calming. Why yes, Wherever I Go, There I Am! Oh, I really should Pay Attention, For Goodness Sake! I’ve been reading Mary Johnson’s memoir of her years with Mother Theresa instead, Unquenchable Thirst, and you know, I’m too engrossed. It’s too good for bedtime reading. And not at all soothing. Her struggles just crawl into my head and feed mine. It’s a fantastic book.

But at bedtime, a fantastic book is the last thing I need. So tonight we’ll just switch that back up. But the side effect of all of this sleeplessness is grumpiness, and although my grumpiness with the kids is so much milder than it once was, taking the form of gruffness rather than actual shrieking, I still end up every surly exchange feeling worse. It does not matter that they are whiny. It does not matter that they did, in fact, forget hockey sticks/sprinkle cracker crumbs everywhere/leave shoes in the hallway. I can call them on those things without bringing my evil alter ego, the Black Mood Ringleader, into play. When I let Black Mood take over, I may make my point: seriously? Underwear on the floor in the living room? Who raised you people? But I pay for it in a vicious cycle of getting grumpier and grumpier because I’m not doing anything to make anyone, including myself, feel better.

The really irritating, awful thing is that you do choose your moods. You can wallow in Black, or you can just … not. I know that. But knowing it just makes it harder, some days. If it’s not my fault and I’m just “in a bad mood” then I can wait for it to pass. But getting past it myself? Well, I’m usually glad I did–but today, at least, I’m having some trouble making it happen.

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Can Virtual Schools Really Replace Classrooms? (Hint: Not for Most Kids.)

Monday, November 14th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | Comments Off

On Motherlode today, one I’m really proud of–virtual schools are earning praise in the home schooler’s blogosphere, and I think for those kids, they deserve it. But what if cash-strapped administrators try pushing this cheaper alternative on kids who won’t really “school” at home? Read and comment, please!

Also: Holiday book shopping! The Children’s Book Review! I love seeing this every year. Come tell me and everyone else what you’re buying for the kids on your list.

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Secret Agent Josephine’s Books Are Here!

Monday, November 14th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | 1 Comment

My longtime internet buddy Secret Agent Josephine has three new books available on Amazon for your Kindle (or better, Kindle app, because you’re gonna want color and graphics for these):

Secret Agent Josephine’s ABC’s
Secret Agent Josephine’s Colors
Secret Agent Josephine’s Numbers

She’s a fantastic artist (people used to compete to have her create an avatar for them), a fun writer and deserving of much success. Back in the day, it was kind of all about whether you blogged undercover, or under your own name, and she made a complete game of the whole anonymous blogger gig, and made it all look so much cooler than the rest of us. And, not because I’ve said all that good stuff, she’s given me a PDF of her coloring book to share, for free. Click HERE to download. (It’s just a nice PDF. Very safe.)

I have uploaded a few screen shots that will surely send you straight to Amazon:

Now you see why we all wanted her to make us an avatar. Who wouldn't want to look so cool?

For your coloring pleasure. Or your kid's. Whatever. More where this came from!

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Motherlode: More Screen Time? Homeschooling Anarchists? Good Teachers When Kids Fail.

Sunday, November 13th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | 1 Comment

On Motherlode at the end of this week: I was thinking that my idea to allow kids more “screen time” on the computer if they were doing creative things instead of just playing, as one commenter said, addictinggames.com was a good one–but most people are still arguing for full limits or none.

And what I liked best about the New York Times Magazine’s “Homeschooling Anarchist Parents” article this week was the mother’s unabashed embracing of a parenting style I thought her daughter was pretty critical of–but commenters didn’t see it that way, either.

I think everyone should read What Good Teachers Do When Kids Fail (but I’m only partially responsible for that one).

I’ll be back for more next week. The permanent disposition of Motherlode, though, remains in the air.

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Dog Meets Porcupine

Saturday, November 12th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | 1 Comment




Dog Meets Porquipine

Originally uploaded by kjda

I totally thought the Porcupine was cute. Yesterday.
KJ Dell’Antonia
sent from my iPhone



Correction: I also TOTALLY thought there was a Q in porcupine. But I fixed it. Ah, the glories of not having to adhere to an editorial policy…I didn’t even have to cop to it.

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Motherlode: Lies! Sexual Harassment! Fat Babies!

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | 3 Comments

So, shameless self-promotion is the mark of the successful modern writer, and in particular the successful modern blogger.

I definitely want to succeed at my second week at the helm of the New York Times’ Motherlode blog, and so I’m inviting everyone: please drop by, read, comment, argue and engage! If you’ve ever wanted to discuss parenting styles with New York Times readers from New England to California and far beyond, or even just to take issue with mine, now’s the time.

This week, I’ve already offered my best advice for flying with kids (see below, and click again to meet the commenter who called me obsequious), written about sleep (not enough of it, for kids or parents, but my willingness to lie to get my kids to bed earlier prompted one commenter to label me the Jessica Seinfeld of sleep), and my reluctant admission that if I had a daughter who felt sexually harrassed by her fellow middle or high school students, I think I’d advise her to let it pass, rather than risk being the whistle-blower.  (I’m not proud, but I am honest.) Later today, I’ll be writing about Jerry Sandusky. Tomorrow, about whatever comes up in the realm where family life meets politics and culture—which is to say, everywhere.

As always in the world of online writing, there’s a bit of a popularity contest going on. Your comments (even the ones in which you take this opportunity to tell me that I am completely WRONG) make me look good, and I’d appreciate them. So please, stop by.

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Panic!

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | Comments Off




Panic!

Originally uploaded by kjda


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Motherlode: Does Flying With Kids HAVE to Be That Bad?

Sunday, November 6th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | Comments Off

After a decade of flying with small children, I’ve learned that what makes the biggest difference isn’t the airline or the other passengers: it’s me. Please, come read more as I return to Motherlode at the New York Times for another week. And comment! Think coffee klatch and start talking’.

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Shoul I Prep, or Just Let This Happen?

Saturday, November 5th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | 5 Comments

If you’re visiting a friend or child with a handicap that is noticeable but not necessarily something that will bother your kids, do you bring it up?

I blew this a few weeks ago, when we went to see a family member who is being treated for cancer. I thought she’d wear a wig, and that the kids wouldn’t notice, and I didn’t want them to pester her with a lot of questions. Instead, she had a little soft cover on her head, and that provoked immediate curiousity. What was it? Why did she have it? Where was her hair? Oops.

Over the holidays we’ll be visiting at least one friend with a child who is somewhere on the autistic spectrum. My first thought is that there is no reason to mention it. My kids are young enough to be accepting of a pretty high level of weirdnesses and I bet it’s completely irrelevant to them. They will play with other kids in whatever way they want to be played with, or not. One also has a hearing aid, and I’m not going to bring that up unless/until asked. I figure, then it’s all just well within the realm of normal.

But research on other differences, like race, suggests that not talking about it directly teaches kids not that it’s so ordinary that there is no reason to mention it, but that you’re not supposed to mention it. That’s not the goal at all. I just don’t want them to go into things with any preconceived ideas provided by me. I want them to take the kids on their own terms. I’m more than willing to talk about it, but I thought I’d wait and see if they even see a difference worth mentioning. Good idea, or hopelessly idealistic bad call?

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Out of Words

Friday, November 4th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | 1 Comment

I may be out of words for the day.

On the fantastic news front, I will be taking the Motherlode blog again next week at the New York Times. I have some great stuff planned, and I’m going to link here every time, which I think I failed to do last time around. This will be the outtakes. The snark. The post behind the post. Or just the links.

But it was a day of mucho wordiness. I started it with a teeny tiny book review (which I actually drafted two nights ago while helping Sam with his homework. His assignment: three paragraphs including a brief synopsis of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and how the author persuaded him to keep reading. Mine? 150 words on National Book Award nominee The Convert: a synopsis and “why you thought it was good”). Then on to my memo for the NYT editor I’m meeting next week, with a brief interval for a Slate post on the idiocy of getting people to send your child prelicked, chicken pox contaminated lollipops through the mail. Even spellcheck thinks that’s just craziness. It’s not buying “prelicked” at all. Hell, neither would I.

Then back to the memo. And I dunno, some other stuff. My whole life is pretty wordy. And I’m worded out.

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Halloween

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | 1 Comment




Halloween

Originally uploaded by kjda

The hogwarts crew (that is Sirius Black looking nobly off into the distance), Crookshanks (can we have some suspension of disbelief here? I know it looks like a stripper costume) and one Shy Guy. I don’t usually put pics of the kids’ friends on the blog, but somehow I think we’re cool.

KJ Dell’Antonia
sent from my iPhone



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Lily’s Braids

Sunday, October 30th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | Comments Off




Lily’s Braids

Originally uploaded by kjda

Lily is going to be Hermione tomorrow night. Hermione has bushy hair. Lily has straight hair.

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Carving the Pumpkin Harvest

Thursday, October 27th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots | 4 Comments

Wyatt was super excited. “Let’s carve penguins!”

I was all, dude, that’s going to be so messy.

But frankly the pumpkins were messy enough. As usual, my eyes were bigger than my carving stomach. We had a TON of pumpkins to carve.

"I try not to think too hard about how gross this is." It would be so much worse if it was a penguin, though.

Fortunately Sam turned out to enjoy gutting them nearly as much as he did carving the faces. And like so many things, pumpkin carving is easier but still not precisely idyllic when your youngest kid is five. They need help with their own pumpkins, but not that much help, particularly if, like me, you’re not that picky about the end result. Or worried about fingers. We ended the pumpkin carving session with the same number of fingers we started with, by the way.

Sharp knife! Hooray!

"This is my so teeny one pumpkin."

Hey-if you send pics of your carved pumpkins to my friend Pam at Nomad press, you’re entered into a contest to win some of their great books (they do some super non-fiction stuff with great illustrations.) Send your pictures here. That sounds super cheesy. She really IS my friend. And they really ARE good books.

Our end result: a suitably motley crew.

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