Thursday, December 23, 2010

Best Audiobooks

IHMO, these are really great audiobooks. A combination of a great story with great storytelling.

In no particular order:
  • The Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) Uses 2 narrators: Henry and Claire. I could hear what they look like!
  • Bloody Jack series (L. A. Meyer) Rollicking fun. The narrator's voice changes as Jackie becomes more sophisticated.
  • Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword (Tee Morris) A dwarven warrior becomes a PI in Al Capone's Chicago. Hilarious, available free at (Full Cast)
  • Ship Breakers (Paulo Bacigalupi) A post-apocalypse, global-warming style. Gritty, very real (although a little fantastic).
  • Paper Towns (John Green). A young-adult coming-of-age story.
  • Changeling (Kristin Cashore) Great characters and strong plotting make this otherwise standard fantasy story a great listen. (Full Cast)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

My Little Mozart

So we've been worried that Isabelle's class isn't quite where she is in the reading department. Carrie called the teacher, who said they'd just given a reading assessment to the kids, and Isabelle was at the top of the entire first grade. How far at the top? Well, they give this same test at the END of first grade, and most kids score between 12 and 18. Isabelle, at the BEGINNING of first grade, scored 20.

Her math is at least in the neighborhood of the other kids.

The school is going to make a special reading group with Isabelle and the only other first grader who has a hope of keeping up with her, to make sure she gets challenged. Good solution.

Now I'd better post this, because if Isabelle looks over my shoulder, she will of course read this, and it's a little early for her to see herself standing out quite that far.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Toothfairy, Magic, and Sleight of Hand

With great fanfare, Isabelle lost another tooth: the first upper incisor. (Lopsided grin!) She put the tooth under her pillow, I got ready for my job interview the next morning, made sure things were ready for her first day at camp.

I'm up at the crack of dawn the next morning, getting on my tie, and Isabelle says, "Daddy, don't make so much noise! The toothfairy hasn't come yet, and if she hears you she won't come."


"Really?" I say. "Let me see." She shows me the tooth under her pillow. "Well, go back to sleep, she must be running late."

Then I grab the money, come back, "Let me give you a kiss," and with a little stealth and sleight-of-hand, the tooth fairy has come.

Later that day, Isabelle tells me, "You know there has to be magic in the world, Daddy. Because the tooth fairy got under my pillow and I didn't even feel it!"

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Isabelle's First Movie

How's this for a rainy day activity? I swear I had nothing to do with the creative aspects of the film, just the technical rendering.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Green Lawn Mower

So, my bro-in-law Nathan's lawn mower died, which is a problem, because I always borrowed it. Thinking that he was likely to muddle along or borrow his neighbors, I bought a new one. A cordless electric. I am in love. Comparing it to the previous gas mower (not a very old one):

  • Power: toss-up. I ran it through 10" wet grass and it did a great job. If it had a few more moments of "woah, too much" than the gas, it made up for it by never stalling.
  • Noise: no contest. It sounds like a fan. I can hear Isabelle talking to me in a normal voice, whereas with the gas, if Carrie screamed at the top of her lungs, I got a vague impression that maybe there had been a sound.
  • Smell: no contest. All I smell is cut grass.
  • Weight: at 77#, it's a little heavier. But it's well balanced and easily maneuvered, and, if I need to actually pick the darn thing up, I pop out the battery, and then it's lighter than the gas.
  • Endurance: here the gas probably wins with a big yard. Mine's a 0.1 acre, and it had no trouble. Other have mowed much more, but if you have acres, you might need to mow half now and half tomorrow.
  • Bonus: no gas can. Never leaks gas. Never have to run for gas. No oil. No spark plug to repair.

Bicycle Adventures

I took Isabelle out for her first ride on her bicycle. Her brilliant father bought her a five-speed, which he can't put training wheels on. But we gave it a try! I warned her, "Nobody learns to ride a bike with falling off and getting hurt once."

Off we went. After half an hour she had more directional control, and a little bit of balance. Woopee. Then just as we decided we were done for the day, the inevitable spill happened.

Isabelle barely scratched her knee. Her father, however, in his effort to keep her upright, tripped over her bike and caught all his weight with his outstretched thumb. I don't think I broke it, but I haven't been in this much pain since I don't know when--probably the time I drove a splinter the size of half a toothpick up under my thumb nail.

Isabelle composed a poem for me:

Bikes crashing,
Babies flying,
Daddies crying.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

All Species Day

Isabelle went to All Species Day as a Jaguarundi (Central & South American wildcat):

That's her friend Zella as the black cat:

Notice her stuffed cat, who, for the occasion, put on a "girl costume."

This is some random guy dressed as a N'avi warrior (the guys from Cameron's Avatar), whose picture I couldn't resist taking.

I also had a teacher-moment. There was a young woman there, probably fifteen-sixteen, who looked familiar. It was only after I left that I realized I had last seen her as a little stick of a fifth-grader in my student teaching. I haven't been doing this long enough for that to happen!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Sing to the tune of "Yesterday."

My daughter's gone insania
Her shrieks would shatter crania
Oh how did she get mania?

Where did my girl go?
I don't know, she won't stand still
But if this goes on
Very long
I'll need a pill.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Isabelle's First Poem

by Isabelle Helene Rouillard Wightman

Fat Fat
What about Fat?
Bake Fat
Make Fat
Buy Fat
Eat Fat
Cook Fat
Book Fat
Fat is very tasty
People like Fat.

Monday, January 25, 2010

How to play banana

So Isabelle wanted to wrestle, and I wasn't up for so much activity. She proposed a number of variants on wrestle, like "naughty horse," which involves her riding on me and tipping her onto the floor.

Looking for redirection, I said, "Let's play..." and I couldn't come up with anything, so, stalling for time, I said, "Let's play banana."

Frown. "How do you play banana?"

uhh... "You walk along, and then you say, 'woops I slipped on this banana.'"

"Great idea!" she exclaims.

Next thing I know we are playing a game that involves throwing yourself on the floor and blaming it on a piece of fruit.

Have to be quicker, next time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Taste of Preteen

I came home today to discover the door to Isabelle's room firmly closed, and a sign on the floor in front of it that said, in big letters:
Doo Not Disdrb