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When we marked our last day of summer vacation last week, it was a day as sweet as it was sad, relieving as it was… relieving, because although we’ve had a good run here at casa de chaos, we were also very ready to get back to our regularly scheduled programming. In that spirit, I’d like to take a moment to praise our top 10 entertainers of summer 2012. Behold:

  1. The Obstinate Pen by Frank Dormer: This is a book about a pen with a mind of its own. It’s also silly, offensive, insulting and hilarious. My Nana gave it to my son, Archer, for his seventh birthday with the disclaimer “my apologies but this book is a little bit naughty.” Indeed, but all great books are.
  2. Let it Shine: As a fan of Cyrano De Bergerac (and, of course, the Steve Martin classic, Roxanne) Let it Shine did not disappoint. I’m always unfairly skeptical about the Disney Channel movies but Tyler James Williams and Brandon Mychal Smith’s rap battle had me at “hey yo.”
  3. Monopoly Jr: Original? Not so much but of all the board games we have in rotation, Monopoly Jr. is by far our Most Valuably Played. Sure, the game always ends in tears because my children are children and get very emotionally invested in… investing. Still, my three year old and seven year old can both play and enjoy themselves over and over again. At least until one of them wins and the other doesn’t and then everyone’s yelling and crying and I’m lecturing them on life and how I got two parking tickets in one day and “sometimes you just lose, kids. Sometimes you have to lose.”
  4. The Complete Pluto, Volume One: Pluto rules. So do seven-minute cartoons watched between tearful games of Monopoly Junior.
  5. The Phantom Tollbooth: I hadn’t read The Phantom Tollbooth since 3rd grade (a Christmas gift from my Nana) so when my dad pulled it out of my old book stash when we were vacationing at my parents a few weeks back I was thrilled. Not as thrilled as Archer who spent our week away at my parents’ house reading it aloud with my dad, his sister (and me) curled up at their feet like puppies with perked ears. Quite possibly the greatest book of all time for a family read-a-thon.
  6. Despicable Me: My kids have seen it approximately a thousand times and I’m totally okay with that.
  7. Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App: Everything Mo Willems does makes me happy. Including this appy. (Sorry.) It’s basically Mad Libs for Pigeon fans (which we most definitely are). And much like Mad Libs, it somehow manages to never get old. Even though the same nouns, verbs, and adjectives are used over and over and over. And over.
  8. If You’re Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow by Cooper Edens: This book holds the answers to all of life’s questions including, “If there are no happy endings, make one out of cookie dough.” I read it to my kids regularly and to myself just as often. My Nana gave me a copy when I was little and I have clinged to it with all my might ever since. (How incredible is my Nana at picking books? The woman singlehandedly inspired my entire household this summer! And every summer since 1981!)
  9. The Summer Olympics: It’s hard to say no when your kids are begging to watch their favorite gymnasts compete. One of my favorite summer 2012 moments was when my son frustratingly shushed the rest of the family because, “Come on you guys! My favorite Russian’s on!”
  10. Star Wars (episodes IV, V IV): My husband, Hal, bought episodes 4-6 for our son’s seventh birthday and over one weekend the two of them sat side by side and watched all three of them together. Archer spent most of his summer building Lego spaceships based on the films, pretending with his sister that they were storm troopers. And as I type this he’s in his room playing John Williams’ epic score. “These films changed my life,” Hal said to Archer after viewing them. “Mine too,” Archer said back.


What about you guys? Care to share your family summer 2012 go-tos?