Audible 2

Audible was one of my favorite things during my first year of parenting. I’ve had a subscription for years, and it is still one of my favorite things, but during that first year, I wanted to be paying attention to my baby. I didn’t want to be looking at a smart phone or a screen constantly, but the days were long and I also needed food for my brain. We listened to a lot of audiobooks that first year. I don’t lean on audiobooks as heavily now that my son is a toddler and he’s more tuned into (and has preferences about) what is playing in the background. These days I mostly use them for long car drives, but they are still one of my great pleasures in life.

Gavin and I like to listen to audiobooks together, and some of our favorite audio books over the years have been the Terry Prachett novels narrated by Stephen Briggs, especially Going Postal, Making Money and The Wee Free Men. I also loved The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, and Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. I read Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle in book format, but Gavin is listening to the audiobooks, and they are quite a ride, particularly if you like very, very long rip-roaring adventures (over 100 hours), and you can be patient for the first 14 hours — or about a single normal book’s worth of pages if you are reading — while you wait for it to get exciting. Maybe I’m not selling that one properly — what I’m trying to say is that it was worth it. I got into those during a stretch when my son would nap best if I was lying in the bedroom with him, and I was reading up a storm during those naps, so I was looking for a lot of bang for my buck when buying books. They’re less of a bargain on Audible, because what is sold as three paper books is broken up into seven normally priced audiobooks. Still, if you like long stories, historical fiction and adventure on the high seas, these are about as exciting as it gets.


Hydrobubbles 4
A friend brought us some hydrobubbles to play with. They start out about the size of couscous, and when you soak them in water they expand to the size of marbles. Our friend soaked these in blue food coloring.

Hydrobubbles 7
This is what they look like when you drop them in a bowl of water.

Hydrobubbles 1
Here they are in a bowl of water with some gravel.

Hydrobubbles 3
They feel like marble-shaped jello cubes.

Hydrobubbles 5
She told us that if you leave them in water for too long, they start to break apart into pieces, and that if you leave them sitting out in the sun they eventually shrink back to their original size.

Early morning adventure

My little one woke up this morning at 5:00am hysterical, urgently asking to “see our car”. When we realized that none of us were going to go back to sleep any time soon, we got dressed and took him down to see our car in the garage. He looked in his car seat. “Nothing there,” he said a few times with what sounded like relief. He wanted to stay in our car, by his car seat, so we buckled him into it, drove around looking at the 5:00am sights and ultimately stopped at a diner for sausage and french toast and eggs.

At Izzy's 1 At Izzy's 3

We took Gavin into work early and then drove down to Home Depot to get some oversized cement mixing tubs and some gravel. We ended up getting a zucchini plant and a tomato plant, and this beautiful green watering can, too.

Green watering can

Tomato 2


Zucchini 2


Gravel 3

Gravel 4


The Little Island

The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown (of Goodnight Moon fame) is another great book for Earth Day. The same, and always changing, the little island discusses with a visiting kitten how it is both itself and part of the wider world. We see the seasons change on the island. We see how the weather changes the island’s appearance. We see animals come and go. We learn, along with the kitten, that “all land is one land under the sea.”  The illustrations are of seagulls and fish, lobsters and spiders, seals and kingfishers, butterflies and wild strawberries, owls and bats and a pear tree all on and around the island, and the text feels like poetry — good poetry.

If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond

When we read If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond, we imagine wading in the pond with Thoreau, sitting on a carpet of pine needles together, walking through forest trails together, watching ant wars, and chasing a fox. We imagine drinking cold, clean Walden pond water, and picking and eating huckleberries together.

I like the idea of reading books for Earth Day that celebrate nature and that remind us how wonderful it feels to be in it, rather than urgent or scary books about what we need to do, especially for small children. I think the deepest, most sustainable action comes not out of fear or guilt, but out of love. I think love is the place to start, especially with children.