Category Archives: Children’s Books

ISBN: 987-1-59474-597-3




The Baby Owner’s Manual Operating Instructions, Trouble-shooting tips, and Advice on First-year Maintenance By Lousi Borgenicht, M.D. and Joe Borgenicht D.A.D.

The Baby Owner’s Manual Operating Instructions, Trouble-shooting tips, and Advice on First-year Maintenance
By Lousi Borgenicht, M.D. and Joe Borgenicht D.A.D.


Newborns for the most part poop, eat, and sleep. In between, they snuggle and cry. The snuggling part is Mother Nature’s evil trick of making you think procreation isn’t such a bad idea, and obviously the crying part is because Mother Nature is a bitch. Don’t believe me? Watch one of those nature shows where a gazelle gets ripped to shreds by a lion. Total bitchface.

My life these days:


IS IT POOP? (checks diaper)


HUNGRY? (shoves boob/bottle in mouth)

<<BAH>> (sound of Baby spitting food out)


Rock? Rock Baby. Bounce? Bounce Baby.


Distract? Blow in Baby’s face.

<<Baby takes a breath>> (Yes. Yes. Yes. It worked…) WWWWAAAAHHHHHHHH


Read Baby a book?

(Baby pushes book away with freakish Baby strength) WWWALAAAHAHHWWHWH

For those who don’t know, new humans need food every two to three hours. A feeding can last upwards of a half hour. Then the Baby needs clean diapers. Sometimes twice because if you keep the diaper off too long Baby will pee/poop all over and you have to start again. Diaper changing can take around fifteen minutes. And then…




Resume bouncing and sweet-talking and rocking, until finally Baby drifts off for an hour. Yes, that’s right, new parents probably will have to get up every hour (or half hour if Baby is fussy or never if Baby decides to scream through that hour) to attend to Baby’s needs. Somewhere in there, parents will want to eat or sleep. My therapist once told me people torture prisoners of war with sleep deprivation. I now know why.





Before Baby was born, I had a long conversation about the cost of baby items. Gliders, hundred dollars. Swings, two hundred dollars. Strollers, three hundred dollars. Bouncers, seventy up to one-fifty. Colic reducing bottles, about ten each, less if bought in a bundle. Case of diapers, thirty-five. (Baby goes through about 3,000 diapers in a year, which is why I’m going to attempt cloth diapers. I’ll let you know how that goes.) Sound soothers, fifty…

Essentially, baby stuff is over priced unless you have more than one kiddo. Even then yikes! And still…

You would pay anything to make your baby stop crying.

Seven hundred dollars for a little plush tiger baby likes to chew? What’s another month late on the rent? Twenty-nine thousand dollars to download a song that puts baby to sleep? Defaulting on my student loans over here.

An infant crying is the most disturbing sound known to wo(man). For this reason alone baby humans need to come with a manual. Not that I could imagine pushing one out after Baby and the placenta.

Thankfully, The Baby Owner’s Manual Operating Instructions, Trouble-shooting tips, and Advice on First-year Maintenance exists. Louis Borgenich, M.D. and Joe Borgenicht, D.A.D. wrote it.

Apparently, Baby does more than poop, eat, sleep, snuggle, and cry. Baby gets constipated. Baby gets hair in their eyes. Baby needs burping. Baby farts and sharts. Baby gets insect bites. Baby gets cradle cap – WTH is cradle cap?! Baby can get a flat head and then Baby needs a Baby helmet. Baby can choke. Baby spits up.

Baby wants the cradle hold.

Baby changes little Baby mind. Baby now wants football hold.

One-second later, Baby wants shoulder hold.

Three seconds later, Baby wants Boba hold. (Parent quickly attempts to wrap eighty-foot swatch of cloth around their body without choking out and trying not to laugh at stage of wrap where parent looks like a Jedi in training whilst balancing Baby on lap.)

Baby wants swaddling.


Baby doesn’t want swaddling.

Baby wants pacifier. Is Baby too hot? (remove clothes) Is Baby too cold? (add clothes) Does Baby want a toy? If breastfeeding: did I eat something bad? Does Baby have Baby heartburn or Baby gas? If formula feeding: does Baby not like this stuff? (switches brands nine times) Baby likes the first formula best.

Baby gets ear infections. Baby gets eye infections.

Baby gets a stuffy nose. (What do I do? Humidifier? Pull buggers out with squeeze bulb? With tissue? With my giant finger? With the odd Nosefrida contraption?)

Baby can claw their face off with their little sharp Baby talons if not properly trimmed.

Baby needs washing.

Baby vomits. Baby gets hiccups. Baby gets bumps and bruises and acne and rashes.

Getting Baby into Baby’s car seat is the seventh circle of hell, and Baby’s wails would make Beelzebub cringe.

Engraving at bottom of mirror: WE LOVE YOU

Engraving at bottom of mirror: WE LOVE YOU

I used to wear makeup. Now I wear spit-up, compression socks to avoid varicose veins, and what I like to call ‘the exo-skeleton’  a three-part brace of sorts meant to tuck your body back to it’s normal place. Whoever said ‘they’re not stretch marks. I’m a tiger who earned her stripes’ was more mental than me. It looks like Freddy Kruger tried to claw his way out of my abdomen. And thighs. And breasts. And calves. Yes, calves. So yeah, my body is completely ruined, but Baby’s birth was a breeze. I slept through half of it. Yeah-ya. Epidural all the way. Plus last week I huffed and I puffed and I pulled myself into my pre-pregnancy jeans. So that’s a win.

I wrote this one-handed, eating oatmeal like a cave woman with my free hand while Baby slept on my chest . But hey, Baby wasn’t crying. At least not for now.

Yes, I said these photos would be all strong women, but then I realized Baby may not identify with women. Maybe Baby wants to be genderless when Baby gets older or maybe Baby wants to be male.

Yes, I said these photos would be all strong women, but then I realized Baby may not identify with women. Maybe Baby wants to be genderless when Baby gets older or maybe Baby wants to be male.

Baby slept through the night for the first time yesterday. At six weeks. Total win. My trick? The owner’s manual.



PS – In photos: Flannery O’ Connor , Dr. Michio Kaku , the Obamas, Amelia Earhart, John Forbes Nash, Jr., Einstein, J.K. Rowling, Maria Bueno, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa.

PSS – Each year for Baby’s birthday we will switch the photos until Baby gets old enough to pick her own inspirational friends.

PSSS -If you want to do the project in your Baby’s room, I got the frames at Goodwill for about $1 or $2 each and painted them with little sample cans for about $3 dollars. The engraving was about $10 and I had the mirror. The most expensive part of the project was the 8 x 10 photos. Luckily, Walgreens had a photo sale for nearly a third the normal price.  You could also use 5 x 7’s or 4 x 6’s, get a paint package with multiple colors,  and paint your own message instead of engraving one.

PSSSS – Blogging will resume to a trickle. Between Baby and novel-writing and short story writing I had to prioritize homey.


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Filed under Books, Children, Children's Books, Funny, humor, Life, Love, Parenting, Random

ISBN: 0-517-171988

Aesop's Fables Illustrated by Arthur Rackham

Aesop’s Fables Illustrated by Arthur Rackham

I was out on a walk when I saw a dead wasp on the sidewalk. It was beautiful to me for many reasons. The easiest to explain are the physical: its wings, the muted yellow and black markings along its back, its teeth, thin legs. In the span of five seconds, I imagined a full life for the creature, and then something about that made me remember long high school days in which nothing happened.

I went home and played Wasp Nest by The National ten thousand times. I looked up wasps on the Internet. What I found wasn’t surprising. What surprised me was how much I cared. I heard a voice in the back of my head saying, “It’s a dead wasp, get over it.” But still, I couldn’t get that image out of my mind. My searching led me to Aesop’s Fables those infamous tales collected by a Phrygian slave.

Obviously, The Wasp and the Snake was the one fable out of the collection that got my attention:

A Wasp settled on the head of a Snake, and not only stung him several times, but clung obstinately to the head of his victim. Maddened with pain the Snake tried every means he could think of to get rid of the creature, but without success. At last he became desperate, and crying, “Kill you I will, even at the cost of my own life,” he laid his head with the Wasp on it under the wheel of a passing wagon, and they both perished together.

That fable got to me, so much so that I wanted to rewrite it. Since I’m not the killing type,  I decided to recreate it in a manner where no one gets physically hurt. I still wanted it to be memorable, but I wanted to capture was the desperation of the Snake, not so much his act.

Arthur Rackham illustrated this edition, which is an important fact because, again, I found myself looking at pictures that I could not get out of my mind. Rackham’s lines portrayed the world as I imagined it ought to look—crabs wearing dresses, trees with faces, and the sea as a woman.

The reason I enjoyed these fables so much was that A used simple language to capture an emotion in the span of a paragraph. Not an easy thing to do. Half of my head knew that the animals were devices used to convey a moral or lesson, but the other half, the half that loved the stories, realized the truth in the idea—if this wasp could talk, what would it say? How did it fit into the world alongside of a snake? Were their places equal? Did animals believe in hierarchy the way humans do? What does justice mean to a loyal dog?

From time to time there was a line at the end of each story, a sentence that drove home the meaning. One swallow does not make summer. Union is strength. Give assistance, not advice, in a crisis.  The tales were meant for all ages and all intellects. This meant snobs would call them accessible. But that is not the right word. The correct term, for me, is song because when I read them I cannot help but hear the voice of the people who lived these tales.

If I had not been looking down on my walk, I would have never seen the wasp. I would have never written that story. And that was something I wanted to capture just as much as the desperation of the snake or those endless high school days.

I don’t think I got this first draft of the story quite right, but that’s okay. That just means it’s time to keep my head down at the desk. Inspiration may seed a story, but work is what makes it grow.

If animal related stories strike your fancy, you should check out my friend and fellow blogger Evan Kingston’s short story, “High School Creative Writing,” on Revolver. It’s about a turtle. Sorta.


Filed under Art, Books, Cats, Children's Books, Dogs, Fiction, humor, illustrations, Life, Literature, Random, Writing

ISBN 978-0-06-202468-8

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

I was reading the New Yorker when I saw an ad for Wildwood written by Colin Meloy and illustrated by Carson Ellis. I am a big fan of Maile Meloy, Colin’s sister, but I’m also a fan of The Decemberists, so I reasoned that I would love this book.

As fate would have it, Colin and Carson were visiting my local library to give a talk on the creative process of the sequel to Wildwood, Under Wildwood. Husband bought me both books for my birthday and we were able to see both author and illustrator before I read either of the books. I’ll admit, hearing them talk about how the story came to life made me appreciate the book so much more.

And here are the reasons I loved Wildwood:

First of all, I had to look stuff up.  I love a book that challenges me.  I thought that since this was a book for children ages 9 and up that I would just speed though the book. The vocabulary was so rich I had to look up words in nearly every chapter. Of course I could figure them out with context clues, but it was so much more fun to look up things like machinations (a crafty & involved plot to achieve your sinister ends) which also turned out to be a really neat 80s band with a song called “My hearts on fire.” I also looked up Kurosawa movies because there was a Kung-Fu reference in one of the earlier chapters.

Secondly, Prue, one of the main characters makes a reference to praying to Nancy Drew, patron saint of sleuthing and this instantly reminded me of the way I always pray to different writers to help me through hard times. IE: Scott F. Fitzgerald patron saint of hopeless cause writers. The book has many funny and unexpected moments that I even I as a thirty year old could identify with.

But most of all I loved this book because it took me to the impassible wilderness and kept me there for five hundred pages. I read this book at a time when reading was nearly impossible for me due to complications with bipolar disorder. Finishing each chapter was a triumph for me, and coming to the end brought me to tears, half because the book was so good, but half because I felt myself coming out of the impassible wilderness of my mind.

And when the words were too hard for me to focus on, I found that I could stare at the gorgeous illustrations that captured major moments in the book perfectly and helped me understand what I was reading.

The book did what every good book should do—it made me a better person, and made me feel like life was worth living. That sounds melodramatic, but fiction is supposed to take us to a new place, not just for the span of the book, but for the span of our lives.

And then it doesn’t matter if all my prayers to Scott F. Fitzgerald, Richard Yates, or Flannery O’Connor are heard or answered. Writers like Colin Meloy give all that they can in their stories and who would I be to ask for anything more?


Filed under Art, Books, Children, Children's Books, Fiction, Growing up, illustrations, Life, Literature, Random, Writing

ISBN: 0-517-70926-0

Pockets by Jennifer Armstrong and Illustrated by Mary GrandPré

This is going to be another short post because it seems I’ve caught a small case of the bipoles*, and I have trouble focusing for long periods. There’s no need to worry—with the help of friends and family, I sought medication to treat the symptoms the same way one would treat flu symptoms.

I wanted to write about the second half of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, but with thoughts careening through my mind so fast that I have trouble reading, I thought it better to pair this week’s post with Pockets, a children’s book written by Jennifer Armstrong and illustrated by Mary GrandPré.

The trouble with reading right now is comprehension, but the beautiful thing about this book is that I found myself languishing in the soft sounds of words I haven’t heard before. I did read this book three years ago, but I didn’t remember the words, one-by-one, and I loved the way I imagined them sounding, billowing, and bending in the cavern of my mind.

And then there were the illustrations: Seas of color swirling around, all so vivid that I imagined myself getting lost between the grainy hues.

“She sewed barkentines, ships of the line, brigs, dhows, triremes, and caravels; cays, lagoons, and scalloped beaches; the astrolabe, the sextant, and the binnacle, each in perfect miniature, her stitches straining ahead against the current and her eyes narrowed on the horizon.” -Jennifer Armstrong

Husband read the book aloud to me, helping me untangle the mystery of the story, but it was exhausting trying to understand, so we set the book aside and went for a walk. The valley was wet with fresh rain and like the illustrations of Pockets, I found myself lost in the grainy hues of this world.

I wish I had a way to connect these thoughts, and bring this post to a neat ending, but I do not. The only thing I can say for certain is that there is a true gift in being able to live in the moment.

Dang these bipoles, ain’t no body got time for that.

*This means I’m rapidly cycling though a bout of mania/depression/anger/sadness. For more information read here.


Filed under Art, Bipolar Disorder, Books, Children's Books, Fiction, Life, Literature, Love, Mental Disorders, Uncategorized, Writing

ISBN-10: 1-4231-0960-0

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! by Mo Willems

This week has been a celebration of children for me, starting with babysitting K for my friend M, having K and her son L over for MN State Fair weekend, and ending sweetly with the arrival of a new niece A. (Another girl to buy books for! Congratulations T & G!) I officially have 5 nieces and no nephews.

To celebrate the delightful children in my life, I thought I’d write about, The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! Written and Illustrated by Mo Willems. The book’s target reading age is 2-6. This info can be found on the back of the book. When I first became an aunt, I had the hardest time trying to figure out age appropriate books for my niece. I don’t feel like 6 was a suitable age cap as I am nearly 30 and found the book thought provoking.

This folio devotes itself to a pigeon that uses a variety of emotional tactics to convey to readers that it wants a puppy. Strange as it may sound, this book reminded me of a class I took in college called, Empty Selves. Empty Selves had nothing to do with pigeons and puppies, but the course did address the general ennui and dissatisfaction with life that plagued recent generations. I watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers and read Something Happened by Joseph Heller, for the course if this helps explain it.

Recently, many of my friends and colleagues have expressed that they have disenchantment with life. Many of them had set realistic goals: go to school, get a professional career, find a partner, purchase some real estate, start a family, rescue a dog from an animal shelter. Now that my successful friends had obtained most of their goals by age 30, they found that life was not what they expected. Their lives did not look the way they imagined. They were stuck in unhappy routines, and it seemed plain unfair.  Many pulled me aside, teary-eyed, and confessed that they weren’t sure who’s life they were living, and they all thought that perhaps obtaining the last goal on their list would help them find that happiness.

K, S, Husband and I got to talking this weekend about life goals and how frustrating it can be when one comes to a certain age, or point in their life where they feel they should have met all those ambitions, but have not.

Me: Everyone just needs to chill-lax. It’s like in any book when the protagonist is at their darkest hour, and it seems like they will never get what they want—then BOOM! Mr. Darcy appears. And 9 times out of 10 they didn’t even know they wanted Mr. Darcy because they were taught to want something else. They ought to try some creative visualization*. It seems to work for Deepak Copra.

Pigeon has the same mindset, fixation on a goal, and when pigeon obtains that goal, ze** just creates another goal. I can’t solve Pigeon’s problem in one blog post, at best I can just address it, but this is a topic adults should breech with children before they hit their 20’s. I’m glad Willems created this book. I think children will identify with Pigeon, and by the end, readily see ze as a silly character. I hope children consider this when they are older. This way, when Mr. Darcey (or a walrus) pops into their life it will only be a fine addition to an already happy and satisfied existence.

* Through The Wormhole with Moragan Freeman cites many interesting studies that respond to the question, Did God invent humanity or did we invent God? Find case studies interesting? So do I. Check out some peer reviewed articles on the APA website.

** Gender neutral pronoun, another topic K and I discussed, that Husband feels is made up. You can be the judge by checking out Urban Dictionary or this Wiki article. Or you can believe me when I say I have friends in the LGBT community who use it. At any rate, pigeon seems genderless and this problem permeates both sexes.

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Filed under Books, Children, Children's Books, Fiction, Growing up, Life, Literature, Writing