Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Year With Susan & Nile

They've been coming since the beginning of time, and this week will be their final storytime. They're moving to Chicago.

I know our friendship will continue, but can't deny the sadness I feel when I think of not having them regularly at storytime. Looking out into the audience and seeing their faces always gave me extra motivation!

I first met Susan & Nile last June when storytime began at the Parkway. This was back in the day when our group was small enough that each week we would go around the room and introduce ourselves. From our first meeting, I fell in love with them!

Anyone who knows this pair can confirm how Susan (on her own) lights up the room with her beaming smile and warm personality, but with Mr. Blue-Eyes in tow, you can't help but feel happier around them!

Because they lived a few blocks away from the cafe (and attended every possible story hour within a 10 mile radius!), they would stroller it to Tuesdays at Ten regularly. On the way, Susan would try to keep Nile awake so that he'd catch his morning nap on the return trip home. I can only imagine what techniques she must have used; Susan is the Mary Poppins of mothers, truly!

She always has a song up her sleeve, or a bottle of bubbles, or a Ziploc full of finger puppets, or a random rubber farm animal, or an assortment of tiny carpet swatches to entertain Nile (and any other children in their presence). She had us over for a playdate once in which we roasted marshmallows in her fireplace and made S'mores. She doesn't let below-zero weather (that's caused school closings) prevent her from bundling Nile up for a trip to the library. Midwestern can-do spirit! She's showed up at my house equipped with a tent, big wands of bubbles and a refill of bubble fluid (in case anyone spilled). She makes and distributes May Day baskets! Susan - always prepared and always ready to have fun.

And then there's Nile! He's social and curious, sometimes intently focused, other days playful and carefree. As long as he wasn't too busy investigating his mother's ears or practicing his fine motor skills with a fork, he'd greet me each time with a smile and a hug.

My favorite memory of him is one winter morning we shared when he sat on my lap for a full hour while I chatted with Susan. Granted this was before he began walking, but nonetheless, not one wiggle or moment of discontent - just a nice, warm bundle of baby happily hanging out for a SOLID HOUR!

What a year with Susan & Nile. We've been so fortunate to have them as regulars and as friends. Some lucky story hour in the Chicago metropolitan area stands to inherit two exceptional human beings.

So best of luck, Susan & Nile, as you begin a new chapter in your lives. I look forward to the next time we are together again!

Reminds me of the Jim Gill song we used to sing...

"We clap our hands when we get together.
Clap our hands to celebrate!
We clap our hands when we get together.
My friends and I can hardly waaaaaaaaaait!"

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Happier We'll Be

The lighting may not be perfect, the foreground is a little cluttered, the view of one subject's face is obstructed; but regardless, this is one of my favorite shots because of it what it symbolizes about storytime - people coming together for the shared experience!

For those of you that missed the Michael J. Fox ABC Special mentioned at last week's storytime, it was all about optimism and happiness. During one segment Fox travelled to Bhutan, a small country in the foothills of the Himalayas where the government monitors the happiness of its citizens. There was an underlying theme here about the correlation between happiness and having strong connections with people - family, neighborhood, community. The importance of having "shared experience!"

It made me think about storytime, and how I always feel especially happy on Tuesdays. Starting my day off with whatever unique mix of people may have come together on that particular morning -- regulars, newcomers, stay-at-home parents, working parents with the day off, grandparents, neighbors, out-of-town visiting relatives, preschool playmates, meet-up groups, a first-time parent with a newborn -- every Tuesday is brand new and special!

If you're there, it means your morning went well enough, no one was sick, your schedule was open, and ultimately you had the desire to come and be TOGETHER! I believe you show up not just for the books or songs, but for the connection we share. "The more we get together, the happier we'll be..." really does say it all.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Transport Me!

"And an ocean tumbled by with
a private boat for Max
and he sailed off through night and day
and in and out of weeks
and almost over a year
to where the wild things are." -- Maurice Sendak

My time with Jeremy Jacobs and his voyage at sea, reminded me of Max's voyage, which made me remember that it was time for me to book our yearly passage across Lake Michigan by high-speed ferry!

Since this big event happens only once a year, each time we board feels like a new experience for my daughter. Boarding a ferry as a 2-year-old can be very different than boarding a ferry at 5! Some years excited, some years trepidatious; either way it's great to prepare for travel through reading!

So, with the upcoming travel season upon us, let's explore all the ways we get from HERE to THERE! Planes, trains, automobiles...and BOATS, of course! This month we'll...


The Bridge is Up! by Babs Bell
Away We Go! by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Emma's Vacation by David McPhail
Two Little Trains by Margaret Wise Brown
Night Train by Caroline Stutson
The Bus For Us by Suzanne Bloom
The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort
First Flight by David McPhail
Boats Afloat by Shelley Rotner


I'M A LITTLE AIRPLANE to the tune of I'm a Little Teapot
I’m a little airplane... I can fly! (arms shoulder height)
Here are my instruments - low and high. (turn dials)
When I get all revved up, (spin arm in front like a propeller)
Watch me fly... (both arms up again)
Off the runway to the sky! (up on tip toes)

This is a choo-choo train, (bend arms at elbows)
Puffing down the track. (rotate forearms in rhythm)
Now it's going forward, (slowly walk forward)
Now it's going back. (slowly walk back)
Now the bell is ringing, (pretend to pull cord with closed fist)
Now the whistle blows. (hold fist near mouth and blow "toot, toot")
What a lot of noise it makes, (cover ears with hands)
Everywhere it goes! (stretch out arms)


Row, row, row your boat gently down the STREAM.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily...Life is but a DREAM.
Drive, drive, drive your car gently down the STREET.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily...Life is such a TREAT.
Fly, fly, fly your plane way up in the AIR.
Merrily, merrily merrily merrily... Life without a CARE.

Finally, how excited I am to announce the debut of OUR VERY OWN RESIDENT MUSICIAN! Once I learned that this storytime regular sings, plays guitar, and is studying music education; it wasn't long before I convinced her to share her music with us. I requested one of my favorite songs from childhood and coincidentally it fits the travel theme perfectly. So get ready for some call-and-response fun! This month (Phin's nap schedule permitting) Nancy will lead us in song...


O the world is big,
And the world is SMALL.
So there's lots of room
For the short and the TALL.

O the world is far,
And the world is WIDE.
But there's many different ways
To see the other SIDE.

You can travel on a BOAT.
You can travel on a PLANE.
You can travel in a DANCE.
You can travel in a GAME.

You can travel on a BUS.
You can travel on a TRAIN.
You can travel in a SONG.
You can travel in a NAME.

Can you and your little one think of any OTHER interesting ways to be transported???

Looking forward to MAY'S ADVENTURES IN TRAVEL!