The holiday wrap-up: toys and tonsils

One of my favorite moments during the holiday was in the hospital.

After the usual presents, visits with friends and family, too much food, Calvin had his tonsils and adenoids removed two days after Christmas.

You may know we have a long (and fortunate history) with Calvin and Cincinnati Children’s. He went into his surgery like a trooper.

Initially, I think it was harder on Max. My husband told me, “I think he’s a little scared. And why wouldn’t he be?”

At 7, he may not vividly remember his twin’s formerly long hospital stays, but I wonder if it’s embedded deep in his memory.

So, we brought Max to visit Calvin during his overnight hospital stay.

The moment that was so nice was Max’s relief at seeing Calvin and his subsequent head-patting of his twin. “Is his heart ok?,” he asked. “What’s wrong with him?”

Calvin was drugged up but immediately perked up when Max came in the room. Even the nurse noticed. Calvin grinned  while receiving the head-pat and cuddle.

This reminded me of the power of twins and the beauty of my kiddos. When Calvin was really ill, it was Max that fortified him and us. It also reminded us that when something happens to one of them, it impacts the other.


My Christmas babies sans books!

And the books

The other moment? Reading, of course! After the thrill of Zoomer kitty and chimp, legos, cars, and sugar, they secretly love their new books.

On Christmas Day, Max and I cuddled up among the chaos of toys and discarded wrapping paper and read The Day the Crayons Came Home by Oliver JeffersIn this beautiful second book about crayons, Duncan reads letters from his forgotten crayons. Both the story and illustrations are brilliant.

Here are some of our other holiday books this year – tested for you by my favorite first graders.

The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon, Kentucky’s 2016 poet laureate.  Calvin especially liked this story of a girl with double vision. (Thanks, Kate!)

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea. This book has a great sense of humor but also a sweet message about friendship.


Ever the baseball fan, Max received Baseball from A to Z by Michael P. Spradlin, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan. I know it’s good because I’ve found him reading it. (Thanks Lou and Lanthan!)


Leap your way into the New Year with Ballet Cat!

Both Max and Calvin are venturing into graphic novels. Here’s some that were under our tree:

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton

Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires


Happy New Year all! Lots of love and keep reading.

P.S. Calvin is slowly mending.




Take me out to the ballgame

Sandy Koufax used to live in our house.

Not being a sports girl, I used to throw out this fun fact to sports fans of a certain age. Now it impresses Max.

His new obsession is baseball.


Max at a Reds game.

You learn things from your kids. Through Max’s former obsessions I figured out who Harley Quinn was, grew an appreciation for Diplodocus, and caught up on the more recent Star Wars characters.

Now I know about Big Papi, Billy Hamilton, and Joey Votto. Our summer has involved playing baseball, watching baseball, talking about baseball. (Calvin has a vague interest but mostly for Max’s sake.) He tries and then goes back to his traffic jams.

“I knew Jay Bruce was going to get traded but I’m still sad when I hear about it,” said my little fan.

Our favorite books

I’m ok with Max recording and watching EVERY SINGLE Reds game but I’ve also used his new focus to get him to read.

Here are some of our favorites that even Calvin and I can get into. They are so many inspiring stories about players who have overcome obstacles.

A favorite is I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer. (We love all of Meltzer’s We Can All Be Heroes books about famous people and how they overcame challenges – Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln.)

Silent Star The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy  by Bill Wise and Adam Gustavson is fantastic and he played for the Reds!


Calvin, Maxfield, and Max at the ballpark!

And don’t forget the female players – The Kid from Diamond Street, The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Steven Salerno – is a gem.

Sports Illustrated Kids Baseball Then to Wow is a great introduction to the game.

Max found The Love of Baseball in a used bookstore on vacation and could not put it down.

And don’t forget Sandy Koufax – check out You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! By Johan Winter & Andre Carrilho.

If you’re wondering about Sandy Koufax, he lived in our Clifton house when it was a fraternity Phi Lamda Phi and he played for University of Cincinnati. An additional fun tidbit – my friend Annie’s grandfather played with him!