My nephew Austin got all As in his freshman year in high school and is #2 in ranking for his class of 484. Go, Austin, GO!!!!

What amazes me about Austin is that he's smart AND nice AND fun AND cool AND perfect. Seriously, he is the greatest kid. I am the luckiest aunt in the world.
Signa took her test for karate today and has now graduated from a white gi to a black one and now has a new purple belt. YAY SIGNA!

Today’s Usborne Books and More Recommendations:

For the younger crowd (ages 7+), See Inside Math.

For the older, Illustrated Dictionary of Math

Both of these help make math less “numbery” and more about what it MEANS.

Remember, all book sales through Feb. 15 will count towards the funds for UNICEF that we are raising for Haiti earthquake victims. In addition, I will be donating all of my commissions. Send in your orders to:

Debbie at mascotmanor dot org

William was telling us about "Minnie Newman" who was found "in the box!" "YOU KNOW! MINNIE NEWMAN! FROM THE BOX!" It took many minutes to gather more details (what kind of box? A BOX! where was the box from? THE GARAGE! what does Minnie look like? A BIG HEAD!)

He was talking about Marc's Alfred E. Neuman doll...

William has also taken to calling Marc, "Batman" and insisting on everyone calling him, "Robin". So here is a conversation I heard the other day:

William (from the tub): Batman?
Marc (from the office): Yes, Robin?
William: Let's pretend you don't know Pee Wee Herman.
Marc: Um... okay...
William: Hey, Batman? Do you know Pee Wee Herman?
Marc: Why, no, Robin, I don't.
William: Oh, Batman!

And then he went back to playing with the bath bubbles.
I was thinking about what *I* could do for the people in Haiti. I don’t have extra cash (that I’m willing to part with) and I don’t want to head off to Haiti to actually DO anything. But I can sell books.

Now I know that they don’t need books there. Really, I do. So instead, I’m doing a book fair from now until February 15.

Depending on the amount we raise, anywhere from 10% to 50% of our sales will be donated to UNICEF, one of the organizations helping the earthquake victims. UNICEF focuses on children and that is why I’ve chosen them as our recipient. More than half the population of Haiti is children, and children suffer most in disasters such as this. I will be donating all of my own commissions, too. So there is no reason for you NOT to buy great books for the children in your lives AND be helping in Haiti. I’m sure you all know how great the books are, but if you would like to see some or get some recommendations, please let me know.

Since this is a book fair, the order won’t be placed until February 16, so keep that in mind as you are shopping. If you need books sooner, I will still donate my commissions, but the other percentage won’t count to the book fair. Please place your order with me via email (rather than on the website) and I will send you an invoice. Start your shopping now:

Questions? Please let me know! I’ll be sending out blasts with my favorite books over the next couple of weeks. The “must have” books for every child.

To start you off, here is my all-time favorite Usborne book:

The Complete Book of Farmyard Tales: This book is a must-have for ages 0-5. In addition to the usual (good stories, good price tag, wonderful pictures) this book is a quality bound book with a ribbon for a bookmark (I really don’t know why this is so loved, but all kids seem to adore this feature. Each page features a hidden duck (making the little ones focus on THAT page instead of just wanting to turn turn turn). It’s a dual reader, so that the top line is easier reading for learners- or faster paced story for tiny ones- and the bottom lines are good for mom or dad to read or to skip until they are older. It also comes with a CD where each story is read aloud and wonderful music. We enjoy the book now for even the 7-year-old and 3-year-old, as the big one read to the little one (and develops more reading confidence in being able to do so).

If you have older kids and are past this stage, here is my recommendation for you:

Conspiracy 365 (JANUARY): This is the first in the new Usborne series for ages 10 and up. It’s a fascinating mystery series that will feature 12 books (one each month).

More recommendations coming… stay tuned!

Thank you all.


Today we were playing Apples to Apples and when Paul was reading the cards thrown down for something, Signa complained because he didn't read the one she put down that clearly should have won. He went back through and read them all again and she said, "NO! Mine was Afraid Hitchhikers."

Yes, Alfred Hitchcock. We were all laughing at my poor girl, but even though she was horrified and embarrassed, we just couldn't stop. Especially me.
Last night, Signa had her first sleepover (well, it was here, so her first Have a Friend Sleepover). Catherine spent the night and the girls just played with their Liv dolls, ate, chattered and then read and went to bed. This morning after breakfast and a couple hours of play, Catherine's family picked up the two girls and they went to see the Chipmunks. Signa had a beyond wonderful time and said that next time she wants Catherine to stay for five nights.
Last night at dinner, I got to hear William's story of an event from the day. I wish I'd recorded it so that I could regale you with the EXACT words, but it was too "in the moment." So I'll do my best.

William's Story

Today in the car and then not in the car there was a dead squirrel and the turkey vultures were in a circle (he made circle motions over his head, and I'm pretty sure he wasn't calling himself crazy) and they were eating a dead not Gilbert (Gilbert is a squirrel that we feed in the backyard and Will was okay with a dead squirrel in the street as long as it was... not Gilbert). And um Daddy said if I wanted to look and I said yes and we looked and there was RIBS! And the turkey vultures were eating that squirrel that was not Gilbert!

Later on he asked me for "Skechimo" kisses. Even though he drives us nuts sometimes, as we don't understand why he does things (kick the dog, not potty train, hit Signa, crash things, break things, destroy things, etc.), he really is pretty freaking cute. :)
In what way, shape, or form is it “potty training” when they just pee and shit in their pants/diaper/pull-up all the damn time EXCEPT when you happen to remind them at the particular right moment? How is THIS potty training? I’d give up and wait longer, except that diapers now all leak and are too small for my ALMOST FOUR-YEAR-OLD. ERGH. I’ve had it.

In other news, I came home early so that I could take Signa to karate and see her doing it again and she didn’t want me to go- wanted Daddy and for me to stay home with William.

Who proceeded to pee in one pullup and then poop in another.

Oh the joy.

Thank heavens he’s so darned cute.

New Year

Well, it’s over. Christmas, that is. This was actually my favorite Christmas yet. It started with a wonderful Thanksgiving and then just kept right on going until New Year’s. We did so many fun things, from crafts to a trip to see the City lights to a parade. And more crafts. And lots and lots of baking (pretty sure that’s why my fat pants are feeling a tad cozy right now).

The kids are at the perfect ages this year. Enough magic and wonder still to ignite the joy in all of us. And they do that every year, but this year I paid attention and remembered to enjoy.

Now the new year is here and some tough things are happening in the extended family. I’m crossing all my everything that it isn’t as bad as it seems right now and that all will be well.

I don’t do “resolutions”, but I do make goals frequently. One goal right now is to be better at writing down what’s going on with us so that I can share it with you and also so that I can share it with my future self. As I go through my days, I think, “I should write that down” but then things get busy and I think, “Oh, I’ll NEVER forget that!” And then when I get to the computer, it’s forgotten.

So 2010 should be filled with more “junk” from Mascot Manor and in return, please have a WONDERFUL 2010, because when you have a good one, so do I.