My apparent affinity for British swine

I seem to have a liking for old, British-y names. When naming our children, I presented a constant influx of naming possibilities, and, therefore, I gave my husband full veto power. It only seemed fair. In the very early stages of ankle-biter birthing, I was a newspaper reporter who saw names all over the board, so the Hubs constantly received texts of “what about…?” If he responded with “no,” then I’d typically move along, though I did try to push for “Henry”…and failed.

When I was in middle school (circa 2000), I tacked this paper to my wall to keep track of any names I might name my future children (like any normal 12-year-old). It really is too bad little Teariyn or Bresh never made it out of the womb.

We tried our best to find family names. Truly, we looked up and down, climbed and shook our family trees, but came out empty handed. Ophelia? Otis? Plus, why honor some great-great-great-somebody or another because they have a nice name? We wouldn’t even get brownie points since, well, they would never meet said baby. That’s just thinking ahead, people!

And so, we went with first names we loved and family middle names. We even alternated families — my son got my maiden name sandwiched between his first and last names, while Baby Girl was middle-named after my spectacular mother-in-law.

I have never shied away from posting pictures of my kids on social media. They’re such a huge part of my life, and with my stay-at-home-mom status, Mama needs an outlet. I try not to post anything that will embarrass them in the future, but I like to keep things sassy.

With a public platform like a blog, however, I’m going to try my hand at protecting them a bit further. My favorite blogger (bloggess?), Janssen at Everyday Reading, nicknamed her four (very small) girls after literary heroines for blogging purposes. I love this idea, so, obviously, I’m stealing it.

He’s recently developed a cheesy camera smile.

My sweet, rambunctious, almost-3-year-old son currently loves Peppa Pig. Yes, yes, for those of us in the know, it’s actually a British TV show, not a book. But! We were introduced to the characters when “The Easter Bunny,” (ahem — my parents) gave my son a Peppa Pig book in his basket. In an effort to familiarize my toddler with the concept of “school,” which he’ll be starting in the fall, we fell in love with the bossy little pig and her anthropomorphized world. Also, Daddy Pig is my spirit animal, or possibly my husband’s.

george pig

That’s probably TMI, but all that to say — I’m going to refer to my son as “George,” Peppa’s little brother (official name: George Pig, lover of dinosaurs). More importantly, I purchased a George Pig surfing shirt from Old Navy in a 5T (my son wears a 2T), and my little goober loves it.

I did that hair-do all by myself. #HumbleBrag

Now, to Little Miss Sassypants — my feisty baby girl. She just turned 8-months-old, and she’s a teeny body overflowing with personality. My son was around eight months before he would lug himself across the floor. She started at 6 months. I keep hearing it’s because she’s a girl and the second child and blah, blah, blah, but, to be honest, I’m pretty sure she’d be following me around the house regardless.

This enterprising swine has a real-life clothing line.

Without a doubt, I knew I’d nickname her “Olivia.” We only own one “Olivia” book, a series written by Ian Falconer. I used to be a boy mom, so I’m a little behind the times on all things tiny and feminine. Olivia is a spunky, British pig with big dreams and an enthusiastic pep for life. I’m just getting to know my baby girl, but I have the feeling she’s going to fit nicely into that description.

Side note: What is it with British pigs?! Or maybe our culture thinks that children like pigs? Do all pigs actually have British accents? Is this an anti-pork conspiracy?

I realize my current readership is made of people who know my children (hi, Mom!), but I’m too lazy to come back and edit if I suddenly amass an enormous following. Then again, my main life goal is to become famous enough to get a call from “Dancing with the Stars,” so maybe this is my ticket in? Tell your friends to subscribe (Mama needs to lose a few pounds and dance with Val Chmerkovskiy)!

What book or TV show characters are reminiscent of your children or family?

Kid Lit Review: ‘LMNO Pea-quel’ by Keith Baker

“How did you get him to learn the alphabet?”

I have the blessing and curse of having a tiny boy who loves, loves, LOVES the alphabet. We were thrilled when he could identify any letter at 18-months, and it’s been fun to watch him grow. To be honest, however, I didn’t expect the obsession to continue this strongly.

We have spent hours upon hours writing the alphabet in sidewalk chalk and in the sand at the beach. We break out the paint to see his creative side, and all he wants is for us to paint the letters. I sing the Alphabet Song numerous times a day, and we decided to teach him the sign language alphabet so he could always have his ABCs with him.

So, after more than a year of this love affair, I’m constantly looking for new books and activities involving the ABCs.

I search for this library label with desperation.

I discovered an animated musical of “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” (by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault) and “LMNO Peas” (also by Keith Baker), and since the music is decent, I let him watch it over and over again.

Side Note: Does a musical version of a book still count as screen time? Can I at least deduct some time from these sessions since there are words on the screen?

As a bonus feature, the DVD includes an interview with Keith Baker. As toddler brains work, we HAVE to watch the interview every time since we watched it the first time, so I feel like Keith — may I call you Keith? — and I are good friends. He gives off a solid Dad-vibe complete with puns, so that makes me an immediate fan.

If you’re new to the LMNO Pea world, start with the original, “LMNO Peas,” which is a sweet run through the alphabet. Then comes “1-2-3 Peas,” a lesson in numbers, and “Little Green Peas,” which teaches colors. When your kiddo is ready for more of a challenge, hit “Hap-pea All Year” to introduce the months of the year.

I’m always up for a good pun.

Keith’s (I’ve decided to call you Keith) newest book, “LMNO Pea-quel,” was released on July 4, 2017. A few weeks ago, I noticed he was writing a new book and was on the library wait list. Did I mention I take our book reading very seriously? OK, OK, this was actually a coincidence.

“LMNO Pea-quel” is a sequel to the original book, except it introduces lowercase letters. Small green peas rhyme, rollick, and romp through the alphabet, playfully matching professions or hobbies and activities with each letter. I was a little concerned when “J” stood for “jailbird,” but he tossed in “ichthyologists” for “I,” so I felt like he redeemed himself educationally. Plus, the jailed peas do look very sad and repentant.

Brightly colored with plenty of action, my son loves this series. Plus, there’s a bonus character to spot on each spread, which only adds to the fun. I love the series, as well. The rhymes flow easily, and the books are concise and quick. I’d give “Pea-quel” a 4 out of 5. It wasn’t his most creative attempt, but I’m curious to see how much farther he can go with this theme. Just imagine the “possibili-peas!” (his word, not mine — Dad joke.)

Do you have any favorite alphabet books to share? Help a mother out!

“LMNO Pea-quel” was published by Beach Lane Books, a trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2017

Big A, Little A

Tonight, my mama friends had a fantastic idea. At 8:30 p.m., which gave enough padding after bedtimes to safely escape for a few hours, we agreed to meet up for coffee and Pazookies at BJ’s. Brilliant, yes. I wish I had thought of it.

As per tradition, the Hubs and I try to take our kids on a neighborhood walk after dinner. For exercise? Fresh air? Family bonding? Eh, maybe, but mostly to burn about 45 minutes between dinner and bath time. After trudging through 115% humidity, we parked the double stroller and sweaty babes in the garage with about 15 minutes to spare until bath time. Perfect! Just enough time to take a shower and not look like a sweaty mess for my mama friends.

I quickly stripped down while the Hubs gave Baby Girl a bath. My 2-year-old son took his normal, weird spot on our bathroom rug to accompany me for my shower. He likes to call me “naked baby mama” and laugh and laugh when I’m in said state. Thanks for the ego boost, sweetheart.

Dear Dr. Seuss, I believe you and I will always have a love-hate relationship.

I noticed he had brought Dr. Seuss’ ABC book. I checked it out from the library today (even though we own two copies) because it came with an audio CD. I’m hoping for a new toddler hobby to begin where he listens to his books being read while turning the pages – on his own – at each ding. This would be happening while I clean, feed the baby, take a siesta, etc. But, of course, I still hear “Mama read it!” every time I hit “play” on our ancient CD stereo.

So, as I’m hustling through a hair-washing, he’s begging for me to read this book for the 56th time. He’s learned to use the word “please” to his devilish benefit.

“Pweese, Mama, pweese!”

How can a mother resist?

And so, I begin reciting the book by memory, talking loudly over the shower.

“Big A, Little A, what begins with A?…”

I get all the way to T, feeling quite proud of my amazing memory, when I stumble. What the heck does Big T, Little T rhyme with? WHAT BEGINS WITH T? I try to coax it out of my toddler while he just stares back blankly. Time to call in reinforcements.

“Ten tired turtles on a tuttle-tuttle tree!” the Hubs shouts back, while drying off Baby Girl.

After jumping out of the shower and into a robe (hair and eyeliner will be tossed together after bedtime), I hurry my son into his shower, yank on his pjs, and barter his bedtime request for five books down to two. After a quick read of Bob Shea’s “Unicorn Thinks He’s So Great” and Oliver Jeffers’ “The Day The Crayons Came Home” – which is NOT a fast or easy read thanks to the too-many words written in crayon – it’s prayers, a kiss, a hug, a kiss from his three dogs, stuffed star, and stuffed moon, a discussion about his blanket, and, finally, a song request. I croon the Alphabet Song to him for the 27th time today (while admiring the richness of my singing voice and wondering why I never auditioned for American Idol), and back out of the room.

If he comes out now, it’s on Dada, as Mama is heading out for a giant cookie, ice cream, coffee, and mom talk.

What book has your child asked you to read so many times you have it memorized?

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