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Neti Pot

Believe it or not my kids don't mind using the neti-pot.  I was introduced to it when I was hugely pregnant and mightily congested and wasn't allowed to take any real medication (remember those days?).  I found it exhilarating, once I'd gotten my head tilted forward at the right angle, to realize how all my inner passages were connected--specifically, how the nostrils connect up top without getting all involved with my mouth and throat.  It really is incredible.  You mix some (non-iodized or kosher) salt into warm water and then pour the spout into one nostril and watch as everything trickles (or gushes) out of the other nostril.  Then you do a lot of messy sputtering and snuffling, and repeat on the other side.  I remember that it brought me about ten minutes of clear-headedness--enough so that I could get to sleep.  My older two kids can do it, and really don't mind.  We usually do it leaning over the bathtub.  It's quite a production, but satisfying when it works, and less expensive than scrolling through a zillion different types of cold medicine (cherry? grape? bubble gum? pills?  liquids? quick dissolving tongue tabs?).  It's a nice non-medicinal approach, and honestly, kind of fascinating to do.  



Uno Spin

While watching the Democratic National Convention the other night, I caught a glimpse of the father of three kids I used to teach.  He was in profile at the edge of the screen, chewing gum, and then he kind of lunged forward for a split second and his face filled my television.  I was able to hit rewind on my remote (since I have DVR) to double check.  Not exactly an old friend, but a fun face to see in that arena.  The next night I caught a glimpse of another familiar  site lurking on the edges during the DNC--Uno Spin.  The Obama family was playing it as part of the montage of Barack's life--of all the things they could have been shown doing together, they chose to be seen playing Uno Spin.  I totally get that.  It's a great game--the familiar card game we all know so well (the one I've finally forgiven for being such a blatant rip-off of Crazy Eights) and the spin aspect adds some great touches.  The spinner itself is satisfyingly sound--not only because it makes a satisfying sound (think Wheel of Fortune) but because it works so smoothly (unlike the spinner in The Game of Life--which has gotten so rickety that they've added a new twist to the game--a person whose 'career' is in computers, actually earns money every time the spinner goes off its track).  And some of the wheel's rules are quite fun--'Trade Hands' means everybody passes their entire stack of cards to the player to their left, 'Show Hand' means you have to hold your cards up for everyone to scrutinize.  You can definitely hit a patch of bad luck in Uno Spin, but most of the bad luck is publicly and objectively ordered by the spinner, and not by a vengeful sibling discarding mean-spirited cards to prompt a whole lotta pain.  Of course there's room for that too (we wouldn't want to miss out on all that kind of fun), but as in Sorry!, it's comforting to not have every bad turn be the result of some overly-competitive family member. Phew. No wonder the Obamas looked so happy playing it.  



Nyttja Picture Frame

Can you tell that an Ikea just opened up in Brooklyn?  The wonderful thing is that it doesn't feel like do-or-die shopping like it used to, when I'd have paid $9 to cross the Verrazano Bridge so the pressure was on to spend at least a hundred dollars to make up for the fact that I'd just shopped in a no-sales-tax state (NJ) but had to pay a toll that would match the sales tax of a hundred dollar purchase in NY.  (Welcome to my head).  My latest Ikea obsession is their NYTTJA frame collection.  The 8 1/2" x 11" colored frames--very nice smooth finished edges (not like the raw unfinished blonde wood RAM frames which I also like);  primed and ready to turn any regular paper-sized artwork into a masterpiece.   If your kids go through your printer paper as quickly as mine do, chances are you have TONS of 8 1/2 x 11 art in your house too.  FYI the link here sends you to something that doesn't look like what I'm talking about.  I'm wondering if this is an in-store purchase only.  They're lightweight and cardboardish on the back, so a good strong double-stick tape will hold it, I suppose you could even put some magnets on the back and have it make refrigerator artwork look even more polished. The colors are great.  But the price is what's so remarkable.  $1.99 per frame.  And I'm proud to report that since the Ikea's so close to me I can dash over there and pick up a few frames at a time (enter through the cashiers in front to avoid the rat-in-a-maze showroom experience).  I'll probably spend a hundred dollars on these frames eventually--between framing my own kids' work, my own artwork, birthday party favors and gifts--but at least I don't have to do it all at once, like in the old days.



It's So Amazing!

I didn't do any research on this one. But my seven year old daughter came home from a friend's house a few months ago having read It's So Amazing by Robie H. Harris (or maybe they just flipped to some of the more provocative sections), and she couldn't stop talking about it. I forgot about it (welcome to my style of parenting) for a few months and then found myself at a bookstore the other day wanting to get a book for her to welcome her back from a week away and I remembered how much she liked this one. She beamed from ear to ear when I gave it to her, and promptly disappeared to read it. She emerges every now and then, mostly to point to the paragraph about conception--she holds it up and says 'did you see this part?' as if to say 'I know what you and Daddy did...' She's torturing her older brother with it too. 'Did you see this part?' she'll ask, holding it up for him. He just rolls his eyes to the ceiling and changes the subject. In particular, she's confused as to why the cartoon couple looks naked in their shoulder area, but you can see pajama bottoms sticking out by their feet, at the foot of the bed. Frankly, that part confuses me too. Are we illustrating the basics or indicating that the deed can be done with pajama bottoms all bunched up around our ankles? There's no blatant nakedness in this picture--rather it's a cartoon couple under cartoon blankets in a cartoon bed, etc. But the book doesn't shy away from nakedness. And we all especially enjoy the lineup of naked people (no Barbie bodies, thank you very much)--again, more cartoons but with detailed saggy boobs, thinning pubes on the older folks, etc. It's so Amazing is straightforward and chatty. The book is narrated by a bird and a bee--one of whom loves to talk about the nitty-gritty (like my daughter) and one of whom would rather just change the subject (like my son). I've answered every question my daughter has ever asked me as honestly as possible, and now it does seem like the right time to hand her a bunch of information and let her browse at will. I've offered to read it with her, made myself available for any questions, and am also interested in her having it around whenever she wants. I'm not sure where we'll go from here, but It's So Amazing seems to be a great beginning.


Ikea Grater

We eat pasta several times a week. My son is a parmesan cheese freak and I love having him grate his own cheese. I'm not much of a cook (see the first sentence) and am not intuitive enough in my own kitchen to know how to delegate out little tasks to the kids. Pitiful I know. But grating their own parmesan cheese is the perfect little way for them to get involved, especially if you have this great (no pun intended, really) grater from Ikea. It's a satisfying frosted tupperware-like container with a tupperware-ish lid. You put the grater top on top of the bowl and grate away. The good news is that you can keep your grated stuff in its own tupperware container if you, I don't know, have leftover parmesan cheese? (I know we never do) The really wonderful part is that the bottom has a skid-proof rubberized coating so an enthusiastic nine-year old parmesan cheese fan can grate all he wants and there's never any mess. No metal pyramid to balance with one hand over some unattached bowl or plate. Just one perfect little unbudging grater. I've never been good at keeping lids with tupperware so I lost the optional lid a long time ago, but it doesn't matter to me at all. What might matter is that the grater I purchased five years ago was white, and now I see that they make them in different colors. Looks like I need another trip to the Ikea Marketplace. *Sigh*



Karito Kids

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I had not heard of the Karito Kid dolls until I was invited to a "Mom's Night In" event hosted by Beth Feldman of These dolls make one think immediately of American Girl dolls but instead of coming from some historical time period these girls are from various places around the world. They are contemporary and funky with cute outfits and current story lines. At the party I received Piper, the latest addition to the collection, a surfer girl from Australia. She's cute with long blonde "highlighted hair", board shorts and a cute little summer top. Taller than an American Girl doll, she can stand up on her own. The other unique thing about the Karito Kids is that on the website girls can choose a charity to which Karito Kids will donate money on behalf of the child who has registered. An activation code in the front of the book that comes with the doll gets you in and there are four charities to chose from. My daughter chose to donate to "a safe and secure home" for kids in Honduras. She chose this because she said without a safe home a kid can't really be happy. As my daughter plays games on the site she will earn more points she can donate to charity. For me the dolls are cute and offer a new alternative to the AG dolls that have become such a rite of passage for girls of a certain age and I know my daughter's awareness of history has been raised by reading the books that accompany those dolls. So while Karito Kids are a little more expensive I'm hoping this doll will raise my daughter's awareness about the needs of those less fortunate - so I say more power to Karito and the kids they inspire.


MLB Power Pros 2008

I've written here about the Wii and how it has changed the tenor of life in our house from sedentary to active even in the tiny 1100 sq feet world we call home. The whole family loves to play Wii Sports - the kids take on dad daily. But the biggest hit in our Wii home is the MLB Power Pros 2008. And the biggest fan is my seven-year-old boy. Just this afternoon, having not played the game for three days he looked at the box and said "I love MLB Power Pros. I can hit so many home runs." He loves the game - constantly asking one of us to "verse" him. He, of course, gets to be the Yankees - always. And he tries to convince his opponent to be one of the worst teams in the league to assure his win. "You can be the Padres," he says with a smile. My daughter answers back - "Oooo, the Padres" (insert eye roll). When he cannot convince someone to play against him, then it is Yankees vs Yankees. But the best thing about MLB Power Pros is that my little boy - who longs some day to grow up and be a pro himself - gets his baseball fix even when he can't run out into a backyard to play. He can read the pitches on MLB Power Pros and hit a few home runs. He can pretend to be his favorite players, he can even analyze a swing and try to strike an opponent out. So, sure while it is not the same thing as living in the suburbs with a lush backyard and space for home runs, at least it's something. And, if you could see the hilarious way he torques his body forward each time he bats - well that provides a little comic relief for the folks, too.




I've been a fan of Cranium games for awhile.  We loved the Treasure Hunt game when the kids were younger--lots of fun surprises plus everyone works toward a common goal which is nice; now I'm a huge fan of Whoonu.  It's a simple game where there's a pile of cards with various things on them (waffles, reading the newspaper, weddings, fizzy drinks, jumping rope, ...) and in every round the object is for people to guess the favorite things of the person who's 'it.'  You select one or two of the random cards in your hand--the things you think 'it' would love best--and put them in a secret envelope along with everyone else's picks from their own randomly drawn sets of cards.  Then the person who's 'it' looks at all the cards and organizes them in a row--from their most favorite to their least favorite.  And then people get points based on how high up their own guesses were in the heirarchy.  It's a simple premise, but here's why I love it:  It inspires loads of conversation, and there's so much room for surprises.  My nine year old son has complained about living in Brooklyn as long as he's been old enough to complain. Brooklyn's boring, why can't we live in Ohio where it's exciting?  Why can't we have a driveway, kids in Ohio are so lucky...Brooklyn's so boring.  I might have eventually figured out that he was warming up to his city-surroundings, but maybe not, given his 'glass half-empty' personality.  But in a rousing game of Whoonu a few months ago he was given a pile of cards to consider:  Baseball games, hot dogs, sleeping late, watching tv, New York City.  As he sorted through them his face remained passive until he got to the New York City card and his eyes lit up, he beamed, and he plopped it down with a 'well definitely this is my most favorite!' and then organized the rest accordingly.  I was shocked at this dramatic shift.  He explained in a 'duh, mom' kind of tone that New York City's the most awesome place to live--and attributed much of it to the Giants winning the Superbowl and the Mets general awesomeness.  Thanks Whoonu.  I don't think anything could have been higher on his list than watching tv.  



Spot On Magnet Hooks

A new friend walked into my kitchen one day, turned in a slow circle, and then remarked 'wow, I don't think I've ever been on a kitchen before without realizing it was a kitchen!'  Perhaps this was because of our towering leafy plants, or maybe it's because we have nothing resembling traditional cabinets, maybe our long unkitcheny Ikea curtains threw her off?.  Or maybe it's that the usual tell-tale kitchen giveaway is the refrigerator and ours was almost completely hidden under an over-the-top but artful arrangement of children's artwork, photo magnets, and souvenirs. I used to feel kind of guilty that my fridge was so cluttered, but I've come to realize that my own personal aesthetic involves lots of colorful meaningful things, and that my fridge most certainly reflects that.  But personal style aside, I'm also raising three children in less than 1600 square feet, and I've come to realize that no surface should be under-utilized, living rent-free; everything should be pulling its own weight.  And that's why these Spot-On Hooks come are so perfect.  I discovered them in A Cook's Companion on Atlantic Avenue (one of those dare-to-dream kitchen stores where I can only usually afford the tchotchkes near the register).  I've since found them online at several other places (including The Container Store). These babies have totally earned their keep.  Each one is strong enough to hold a cast iron skillet, so now all of my frying pans and sauce pans dangle from the side of the fridge closest to the stove (amidst laminated robots, and framed newspaper clippings), and the kids' lunchboxes hang from them too.  And to top it all off they're really beautiful-big circles with little hook 'cut-outs' and they come in gorgeous colors:  avocado green, mango yellow, cool retro blue, chocolate brown, .... So they're doing double duty: helping us save all sorts of precious space and adding to the colorful vibe.  I never don't need more of these.  In fact, as I sit here typing this, I'm realizing I could put about five more to instant use.



Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolour Field Set

I get so little completely free time that when I do get it, I tend to squander it wondering what to do.  I'll decide to take a nap, then on the edge of dozing off decide that I'd rather be thumbing through an O magazine or something.  I'll scan the table of contents then realize I should be at the gym instead.  I'll open my drawers to find my gym clothes and then realize that my time might be best spent getting rid of clothes I never wear.  I'll start to collect clothes I never wear and then get filled with fatigue and get mad at myself for not having nodded off in the first place.  Next thing I know my kids are home again and I have nothing to show for my down time.   No restful mom, no finished magazine, no morale-boosting work-out, no weeded out clothes.   I hate that.  I remember who I was in my pre-kid life, and I remember that the Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolour (they're British) Field Set was an important part of my solitude.  I've recommended it to art students over the years, and even though I haven't touched mine in some time, I do have romantic ideas of returning to being that kind of person.  At some point.  In my former life I made many little paintings using my set.  It travelled with me to Portugal, Chile, Madagascar, Israel, and the little cakes of color aren't close to running out.  It's got a cute little collapsible (but very solid) brush, and I used to keep a few Q-tips in the set for instant-erasing.  I'd also use a water bottle cap full of water to keep the set going for a long time (I've been known to use beer too if that's all that's available).  But from the look of it, they've added a few new features.  It comes with a little sea sponge, and a canteen for keeping water.  There's also a little tray table that you snap in that doubles the amount of paint you can have going at any given time.  It's really a great little set.  Technically, if a cake of color runs out you can just purchase one other little chunk.   I suppose if I had a little water color painting for every tiny chunk of down time I've happened across in the last nine and a half years I could fill a gallery with my artwork.  And I might have ordered a few more cakes of color by now.  One testament to how much I love my Cotman Watercolour Field Set is that I can locate my set at a moment's notice.  And that's saying a lot in this house with the closets and the drawers and the shelves that have never really been properly organized--given how unfocused I've been known to be during those moments when I should be taking care of them. 



No-Pudge Brownie Mix

I discovered No Pudge Brownie Mix a couple of years ago when it screamed out at me from a supermarket shelf in a supermarket I never go to in a different part of Brooklyn. I can't remember why I was there, but the hot pink almost retro-looking box got my attention, and boy am I glad. This stuff is incredible. I don't understand about the No-Pudge part, having never been able to grasp much about nutrition. I'm like the girl on that commercial, standing in the bakery pointing to rolls--does this one have carbs? what about this one? and this?--I get that 'fat-free' can sometimes mean more of something else--sugar?, but again, this is not my field of expertise so I'm making no claims here on behalf of the product, except for how delicious it is...please read on. You make the 'brownies' by mixing the chocolatey powder with any kind of yogurt you want. I put 'brownie' in quotes because the way we choose to use it is to make little individual portions in pyrex dishes. Two tablespoons of mix combined with one tablespoon of yogurt, microwaved on high for one minute, and you get this thing that's a lot like molten chocolate cake. We've tried it with plain yogurt, vanilla yogurt, banilla yogurt, strawberry yogurt, chocolate yogurt. I've only ever tasted the Fudge Brownie mix in the pink box--they do have other varieties. I may branch out at some point (there's a mint one, not sure what else), but there's been no incentive to do that yet. The website is full of other kinds of recipes, mostly sent in by fans: applesauce brownies, cherry cola brownies, etc. Check it out. This stuff is incredible.



Bamboo towel - The Company Store

My daughter was born with a keen sense of luxury. Her favorite chocolate is Jacques Torres dark. She can taste the subtle differences between various olive oils. She notices when the toilet paper is not Charmin. I'm certain she is meant to be queen someday. With those royal aspirations in mind, my daughter has declared the new Bamboo towel we received from The Company Store the softest towel on earth. It is the only one she'll use and while I might like a turn once in a while, she appreciates it on a level I'm just haven't reached yet. It is remarkably soft for a bath towel, almost baby blanket like in its feel and against your skin it is a dream. And, it is eco-friendly as well. I don't completely understand the details of it - something about bamboo's renewability. All I know is my daughter knows luxury when she feels, tastes, sees it and she loves this towel. For me - well, I'm eyeing that bamboo bathrobe I saw at The Company Store online - after all I have to cultivate my sense of luxury with a future queen for a daughter!



Second the Votivo

I just want to second the amazing scented-ness of the Votivo candle. In our case, it is the cinnamon candle that please the olfactory senses for half our family - my husband and daughter who could eat cinnamon well, in a candle - not that they are eating the candle. And for me - the red currant candle is to die for - so luscious and sweet with that little tart under scent. I don't know how Votive does it - but those candles are remarkable. Maybe I should start a new craze the "candle diet" where I feel like I'm eating all these amazing flavors and really only smelling the candles. After all, they say the nose is where taste begins.



The Wonder Pets

I remember when my oldest son was young and I thought I could control everything that went into him, and by extension I thought all parents were really in charge of what their kids watched for ever and ever, no exceptions. And then his younger siblings came along and I realized that if my 6 year old was watching Yu-Gi-Oh, then my 4 year old was watching it too, and my one year old was likely in the room. Now I understood how a 3 year old girl could be into Hannah Montana, now I get how an 18 month old boy can hum Darth Vader's theme. It's all clear to me now. The fun flipside of that is that my older kids can often be caught enjoying some very 'young' shows. Hearing my 9 year old son walk around the house singing Dora jingles or having everyone join in in a good round of Blues Clues (with feeling) can be pretty cute, especially given the other influences out there. And I'm grateful that my older kids, who'd have otherwise been wayy too old by the time it came along, have gotten to enjoy The Wonder Pets. We all love The Wonder Pets. There are hidden clues all over the show that are gratifying for people of all ages, and the graphics (animated flat photographs and colored paper, from what I can tell?) are soothing as well, not jarring like some of the more technicolored computer-generated shows. The show's premise is this: three school pets turn into superheroes every day after the kids have left the little schoolhouse. To songs set to classical music tunes they find out where some baby animal is trapped/stuck/distressed/whatever, and they travel to save it. There's a MacGyver quality to the machines they build, and some basic physics or other little life lessons involved. And then they cap off every episode by celebrating the rescue by eating celery--'this calls for some celery!'--which, I have to say, really has propaganda-ed celery into being something all my kids will eat. Some of their sayings/singings 'this is serious' or 'the phone, the phone is ringing...the phone? I'll be right there' have become part of our family culture. And I've even found myself walking grown friends through the details of the show, some of them are so clever. I'm sure other incredible shows for little kids will come along and we'll miss them completely--now that our attentions are aimed more in the High School Musical direction, but I have to say I'm glad that we caught the The Wonder Pets when we did. One last really great kid's show for the whole family.



Votivo Candle--Black Ginger

A few years ago, I was at a fancy French restaurant having dinner with another mom--in theory I know that the atmosphere was gorgeous, the food fantastic, the conversation stimulating...but my biggest memory, the only thing I remember really really well, was the way the bathroom smelled.  I got up to use the bathroom and came back to the table with big eyes: "the bathroom smells great!"  Later she got up to use the bathroom and came back with big what-a-great-smelling-bathroom eyes as well.  Before we left we did some detective work, which just meant that one of us went back in, picked the big candle up off the back of the toilet?  some shelf?  the sink?  (see, another thing I don't remember) and read the name on the bottom.  Votivo Black Ginger.  A few months later she gave me one for a baby shower gift.  I think my favorite thing about it is that it's a very grown-up smell, and doesn't remind me of any part of having a houseful of children, except for the one night at the French restaurant when I escaped all of that.  I also love that, of all the Votivo 'flavors' and 'smells' I never ever would have gravitated towards something called Black Ginger.  What is black ginger anyway?  I'd have gone for something muskier, fruitier, vanilla-ier...  I think I caught wind of it today in a dressing room in Anthropologie.  Maybe not (I didn't investigate--too many people around), but it did send my love of it right back to me. It's a really gorgeous, gorgeous-smelling candle.



Flip to Win Hangman--Melissa and Doug

I don't know who these Melissa and Doug people are but I'm constantly impressed with the quality and the affordability of their wooden toys.  We picked up this Flip to Win Hangman game as a house gift last weekend and it ended up being kind of a surprise hit.  When I saw it in the store it looked like a cute idea, and I have a habit of rewarding cute ideas by buying them.  And of course there was some laughter about how much longer a simple game of Hangman takes with this clunky wooden board whose wooden letters and body parts are attached by bungee type cords and which you pick up to flip and snap over for guessing and scoring, but there's something about the process that's inviting, and we had a hard time tearing the kids away from it.  Plus the bottom chunk of the board is a dry erase board and the 'marker' comes attached so there's something kind of mesmerizing about that, since, face it, every kid loves a dry erase board.  We left it with the family we gave it to (something that should be obvious, but somehow wasn't to my youngest child) but will be picking up one of our own to take on our upcoming vacation.  It's nice to have a travel game that's truly self-contained, it would be impossible to lose any of the pieces--(the dry erase marker could be lost I suppose, but easily replaced if necessary)--and yet it has the satisfying tactile feeling of a classic wooden game with lots of different parts.  I know I know, Hangman could be played on a free napkin with a broken pencil but honestly, this is just downright adorable, and I'm certain many more rounds were played with this (by the six kids in the house between the ages of 4 and 9) than would have been played otherwise.  I suppose the only downside (besides it not being free like the kind you play on an airplane barf bag) is that you really do just get eleven 'strikes' before your guy hangs, unlike how you can draw out a game on paper by adding teensy details to your doomed guy at every erroneous guess.  But it keeps you honest (like computer solitaire does) and the games don't go on forever, which can come in handy.



Marie Belle Chocolate Rose Tea

My mother used to swoon at the idea of her first few sips of coffee--and credited her enthusiasm for her beloved beverage for getting her up and at 'em before dawn every morning. I've never been a coffee drinker, but now, I think, I understand the obsession. When I'm taking my first few sips of Marie Belle Chocolate Rose tea when I get up in the morning, my body shudders at the excitement of how wonderful it's going to be to be sipping it again at 4 o'clock. Likewise at 4pm, when I'm settling back in after all the various school/camp pick-ups, and I take my first sip of afternoon tea, I flush at the thought of how it's going to feel to be sipping it again, the next morning, at 7am. A friend once pointed out that the thing about childhood is that the years fly by but the days go on forever. This chocolate rose tea is one reason to savor all those slow days. And when our beloved family pet had to be put to sleep, and I had to go hold her paw in her final moments, and I was so grief-stricken that I walked down the wrong avenue to get to the subway, which of course wasn't where it should have been because I walked down the wrong avenue, and I found myself standing in front of the Madison Avenue Marie Belle shop I realized that the only thing I could do was to go stock up on more of her tea. Friends have winced at the thought of combining chocolate and tea, but are always won over when I pour them a cup. Adding milk makes it extra perfect, of course. I could (and probably will) rave about other very specific brands and flavors of loose tea (stay tuned), but this one deserves to be first--and not just because it's in the prettiest tin.



Tales from the Odyssey--Mary Pope Osborne

Of all the phases my nine year old son has gone through--and there have been many (Yu-Gi-Oh, Scooby Doo, Dragonball Z, Star Wars)--Greek Mythology is by far my favorite.  He was introduced to Greek Mythology in 4th grade when he stumbled upon a series of books satirizing Greek Myths (in which Hades is the hero, Zeus the evil brother, etc.) and I realized that the cart was before the horse--he had no idea what was being parodied, and was believing Hades' version.  I mentioned this to his teachers who immediately got their hands on the Mary Pope Osborne 'Tales from the Odyssey' six-book series, and then we all sat back and watched him devour them.  Full disclosure:  He was never into the Magic Tree House series; while he might have been into the adventures themselves he couldn't get past the Jack and Annie characters which to him seemed a bit condescending.  The Greek Myths on the other hand...nothing childish about them at all.  One terrible thing happens after another, and he just can't get enough.  But the best part of this particular obsession is what's happened after he put the books down.  Things in the world start to make sense to him, now that he has this Greek Mythology in his head--it's easy to forget how many references there are in our day to day lives (Nike, the Olympics, Honda Odyssey).  His passion for mythology got him properly hooked into the excellent Rick Riordan Lightning Thief series (click here for the story about meeting him), and he can hold his own in conversations with grandparents and other visitors who are eager to engage on the subject.  And what mom doesn't love it when her nine year old son has an involved and energetic dialogue with grownups, about anything?