November 15, 2016

Best Non-Chocolate Advent Calendars for 2016

non-chocolate-advent-calendar-2016

I know. I knowww it’s too early for holiday stuff, especially before Thanksgiving, but advent calendars get a pass because you need ’em by December 1. Which is in a few weeks. And this year, I was looking for non-chocolate advent calendars for a few reasons: one, kids + chocolate before breakfast = no; two, toddler is woke to whatever big sis is eating and I don’t want to be painstakingly bisecting tiny candies before my eyes are even open,  and three, the chocolate isn’t even good. There are so many fun options on the market, from pre-filled toy versions to gorgeous personalized – ones you can use year after year.

Our top pick in this house is the playmobil advent calendar – perfect for a toddler + kindergartener, but I found all kinds of cool, modern options for all ages & stages.  We’re talking Star Wars to hand-embroidered heirloom pieces you can incorporate into your existing holiday traditions and fill with whatever you want. My absolute favorite idea, especially in light of recent events, is tucking a note with an act of kindness for each day of the month into the fill-it-yourself versions.

Continue Reading…

By November 15, 2016 21 No tags Permalink
February 25, 2015

Once Upon a Time… (Our Favorite Fairy Tales For All Ages)

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(reading Puss in Boots)

Happy Tell a Fairy Tale Day!!  No, I’m not kidding -it’s a thing.  Here’s proof.  If the internet says it, it must be true, right?

In any case, I’m a firm supporter of…well, any reason to curl up with a good book.  And fairy tales are some of my favorites.  I love the endless possibilities (talking animals?  magic potions? spinning straw into gold?) and the safe structure provided for confronting fears.  Who needs to be grounded in reality anyway?

“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.”

– Albert Einstein

Sing it, Dr. E.

Here are our top five fairy tale books right now:

1. The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen, published by TASCHEN.

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Do you know the publisher Taschen?  This publisher is perhaps best known for it’s coffee table art books, usually filled with gritty, sexual, and sometimes controversial images.  And now Taschen has taken on fairy tales and -get ready- they’re FABULOUS.  I couldn’t be more thrilled with the result.  My hands-down favorite is The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (think: Princess and the Pea, Emporer’s New Clothes, Ugly Duckling).  This book is one-part art book, one part children’s book, and the (highly esteemed) 1942 translation by Jean Hersholt is THE BEST I’ve ever read.

Continue Reading…

By February 25, 2015 21 No tags Permalink
December 17, 2014

Our Favorite Illustrated Chapter Books (Full of Gorgeous Illustrations and Glorious Adventures)

Growing up, my mom started the tradition that Christmas morning meant books.  To this day, I can’t think of Christmas without remembering that delicious feeling of anticipation a new book brings.  Of curling up on the couch – cozy socks on feet and a book in hand – for a long afternoon of reading by the fire.  By the end of the day, my cheeks would be pink from the wood-fired stove and my mind would be faraway – caught up in the world of whatever I was reading.

I’ve always been a book nerd.  I think it’s my best quality.

So in the spirit of my childhood Christmas, each year I pick out a very special book to read to the boys.  Something a little challenging, perhaps, but something….special.  An epic tale, a daring adventure, a story that captives the imagination and renews the soul (I warned you about that book nerd stuff).   Glorious illustrations and unabridged text are a must.

At the moment, Raines is almost 7 and Pax is 4, so my book choices and comments are based on those ages.  (However, Pax is a book nerd like his Mama, and has been happily sitting through Chapter books since he was 2.  I know that’s not the norm.  Raines was late getting into the book game – he just wasn’t into it early on – but he’s a fairly old soul, and likes his adventure pretty hardcore.  Some of his favorite stories are downright scary.  All of our notes below.)

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1. The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie The Pooh, written by AA Milne, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard

There’s just something about Pooh.  About Pooh and Piglet and Rabbit and Eyeore and the seemingly all-knowing Christopher Robin.  This book, this weighty tome, has captured both of my kid’s imaginations.  Pax asks to read it every night – he especially likes the one where Rabbit and Pooh scheme to kidnap baby Roo – and Raines, in the spirit of Christopher Robin (who is also 6), acts indifferent, “silly Pooh” but doesn’t miss a word once I actually start reading.  There is simply no comparison between the original, thought-provoking, sometimes dry-humored Winnie The Pooh and the Disney version of these tales.  But be sure to get a unabridged copy with full-colored illustrations.  They’re heart-melting.  (The link above is to the full-color unabridged version of the complete tales, including Winnie The Pooh, House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six.  BUT.  It’s really, REALLY heavy.  I wish we had bought this Winnie The Pooh boxed set – still full-color illustrations and unabridged, but broken down into four lighter volumes.)

 

2. The Story of Dr. Doolittle, written by Hugh Lofting, illustrated by Michael Hague

I had never read Dr. Doolittle as a child, so this was a fun read.  The illustrations are fabulous, and, we found, necessary (the cast of crazy animal characters is long and a bit hard to keep straight.  Pax is always trying to identify which one is Dab Dab the Duck vs whomever else).  Raines, however, was not into this book.  I suspect it’s because he’s not really into animals at the moment.  Or, in his words, “I’m just not a zoo guy, Mum.”  Um.  Ok.  But a total must-read for any animal-loving kiddo.

 

3. The Saga of Erik The Viking, Terry Jones

This is a retelling of classic Norse myths.  It is also, to quote one Amazon reviewer, “ripping stuff”.  He goes on:  “…the balance between straight adventure and human emotion introduces the young reader to both the obvious attractions and entertainments of mythical stories and the more subtle rewards of reading and thinking about great odysseys.”

Exactly that.  There’s danger and daring and terrifying beasts, but vulnerability and doubt too, and quite possibly the best lessons on true leadership that I can remember reading.  Raines couldn’t get enough of this epic tale, but a few parts were too frightening for Pax.  Raines still gets a steely glint in his eye if I mention The Dogfighters.  “I am not afraid of fear!” Erik cried.  “Fear is like an old friend who shouts by my side!!”  …the battle against The Dogfighters had begun.   [shiver]  Good stuff.  (Be sure to get the hardcover edition with the full-color illustrations.  Totally worth it.)

 

4.  Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales 

This.  THIS book.  I credit Beatrix Potter with getting Raines interested in books in general.  Raines wasn’t into reading as a toddler (he’d slam most books closed and shout “NO!!!”) but his two year old self was completely enchanted with this set of teeeny tiiiny Beatrix Potter books.  And once I started to read about naughty Peter and Benjamin Bunny, or the tantrum-throwing Hunka Munka?  He was ALL IN.  So we upgraded to The Complete Tales in a size I could easily read.  It’s amazing, really, how so many years later Ms. Potter’s stories capture my little boys’ imaginations as if no time at all has passed.

 

5.  The Odyssey, written by Gillian Cross, illustrated by Neil Packer

Yup, this is Homer’s Odyssey, with seriously cool art on every page, and redone in a language that is easy to grasp.  This book is best for kiddos slightly older than mine – last year it was too much for both of them, but Raines is now just starting to appreciate it.  If you are serious about classic literature, this is an amazing introduction for kids, with illustrations that make this *almost* more art book than story.

 

6.  Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie, illustrated by Scott Gustafson

I’ve been struggling with what to say about this this unabridged, gloriously illustrated Peter Pan because I fear that my words will not do it justice.  Suffice to say that this may be the best book I’ve ever read.  Not just the best children’s book, mind you, but the best book, period.  There’s dry humor (that goes over the boy’s heads but leaves me giggling uncontrollably), there’s daring adventures and gut-wrenching honesty and an ending so bittersweet I had to read through a thick veil of tears.  And the author’s grasp of the nature of children – of humanity, really – leaves me feeling humbled.  It’s a story about us all.  A story of our fears, our disappointments and of life marching on.  It’s actually a fairly dark story, and Raines especially got that.  I think he was surprised to learn that he didn’t always like Peter Pan, although he was cheering him on in the end.   Disney didn’t get it completely wrong, though (to live is an awfully big adventure), but what Peter Pan actually said was, “to die must be an awfully big adventure” and after that how can you not let your mind soar?

The illustrations in this unabridged edition are stunning.  So true to the story and the kind you can pour over for hours.  (Amazon doesn’t have many in stock at the moment, but Biblio.com has several copies for $35.)

 

7.  Ramayana: Divine Loophole, written and illustrated by Sanjay Patel

Another book based on mythology, this time Hindu.  It’s the story of Rama, a god-turned-prince who must rescue his wife Sita from a demon king.  There’s journeys and tricks and epic battles and – to the delight of Raines – a bow that shoots a million arrows at once.  Mind. Blown.   (Warning:  this book prompted a paint-our-body-blue phase so Raines could be like Rama.  It was pretty funny – there’s a picture in this play article. )

 

8.  The Wind in the Willows, written by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated by Inga Moore

That devious Toad!!  He is such trouble for lovely Mole and quick-witted Rat.  And the completely irresistible pull of the motorcar?  Well.  My boys are hooked.  POOP POOP!  We’ve actually read this book cover-to-cover twice, and each time they’ve delighted in Toad’s scrapes (but sensitive Raines always wants to get back to Mole, “he’s my favorite, Mum”).   And at the end?  The glorious finale when they go up against the Stouts and Weasels in an epic battle for Toad Manor?  I mean seriously we’re talking edge-of-the-seat stuff here.

 

9. Paddle-to-the-Sea, written and illustrated by Holling C. Holling

This story is near and dear to my heart.  It’s the story of a toy, carved by an Indian boy in the Canadian wilderness.  The boy leaves the little boat on a snowbank one spring, and when the snowbank melts, the boat is whisked off down the river.  The boat (named Paddle-to-the-Sea) journeys through the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, and finally the Atlantic Ocean.  While I’ll admit that I like this book more than my boys do, the stunning illustrations (spanning both miles and seasons), strongly depict a sense of time and place and of…connection that it’s earned it’s place on our shelves.

 

This year, I haven’t quite decided which book to add to our library (as you can see, we have quite the collection!!).  The boys just pulled Peter Pan back out, so we might just go with that.  We’re taking the train home again, so it’s a perfect time to cuddle up and read together.  But I’d LOVE some recommendations.  I was thinking maybe this illustrated edition of Treasure Island, but it’s “heavily abridged” according to reviewers.  Is there a stunningly illustrated Alice in Wonderland, maybe? (Perhaps this one?)  There should be.

xo,

S

 

By December 17, 2014 30 No tags Permalink
October 22, 2014

Nostalgic But Awesome Kid’s Books for Halloween (And I’m Pretty Sure One Of These Is Supposed to Be A Joke)

If ever one needed to make a case for nostalgia, these three books are hard to beat.

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1.  There’s a Nightmare in My Closet

I remember reading this book as a child, and after searching (and searching AND SEARCHING) for something to calm fearful little Pax, I came across this old favorite again.  From the desperately brave stance of a boy making a stand (in his army helmet, no less, with a barricade of pillows and toy cannon)…to the sweet tears of the monster, I LOVE this book.  (And if you have boys, you’ll totally appreciate that YES – he does fire the pop-gun at the monster because to a little boy, there is no such thing as surrender.)  We’ve read There’s a Nightmare in My Closet approximately one million times, and no other book hits quite the right cord, or reassures better.

(Although, I Need My Monster is a pretty close second.)

 

2. Dorrie and the Halloween Plot

Do you know the Dorrie books?  These were my absolute favorites as a little girl.  They are a fully illustrated series, but each book is long, bridging the gap between picture books and chapter books beautifully.  All books start with, “Dorrie is a witch.  A little witch.  Her hat is always on crooked and her socks never match.”  And so her adventures begin.  Dorrie is spirited, tough, and about as anti-princess as you can get.  My boys – both Raines and Pax – are obsessed with these books.  I love the strong, female characters, and the fact that Dorrie isn’t some perfect kid – she drops bags of onions, gets muddy, “borrows” her mother’s broom to try and learn how to fly, etc.  Also?  The adults are far from perfect, too.  There’s a fair bit of yelling, “DORRIE!  Stay OUT of the way!  Company is coming!!”  Which….you know, happens.    These books were out of print for a long time, but it looks like Amazon has brought them back – most of them, anyway.  Dorrie and the Halloween Plot is a good place to start, but they are all pretty fantastic.  (Sadly, my very fav, Dorrie and the Witch’s Imp is still out of print, but there are a few used copies on Amazon – or try the library.)

 

3.  Dick and Jane and Vampires

I thought this was a joke.  I mean seriously:  It HAS to be a joke.  The whole thing reads like a real Dick and Jane book:

“Look Jane, look!  Look at the red ball.  Oh, Jane!  That is not the red ball!”

Nope.  Not a ball.  It is, of course, THE VAMPIRE.  That cliffhanger leads to the next chapter, appropriately titled, “Run Away”.

“Run, Dick.  Run, Jane.  Run, Mother.  Run away!”

But here’s the thing:  no one gets hurt.  In the end, the vampire becomes a friend, and they find him a nice lady vampire.

“Look, Vampire, look. Look and see.  Look at our new friend!  Happy, happy vampire.”

OMG.  This shit just kills me.  So…OK.  We read it to the kids.  It’s so crazy, though, getting through the story.  There’s so many times you think Dick or Jane or – good lord – baby Sally is about to be vampire food and then…..nope.  Vampire either runs away, or starts to play, or something.  It’s CREEPY, there is no doubt, but Raines and Pax LOVED it.  It’s amazing how a lurking vampire presence jazzes up a story they would otherwise NEVER sit through (or attempt to read).

 

xo,

S

ps.  A few more favorite Halloween picture books.

By October 22, 2014 0 No tags Permalink
July 25, 2014

Our Four Favorite Picture Books For Summer

Can you tell we’re getting ready to go back to the beach?  Here are a few books we’ll be packing (and have been reading nonstop).Untitled

 

1.  If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano

if you want to see a whale

you will need a not-too-comfy chair

and a not-too-cozy blanket

because sleeping eyes can’t watch for whales

and whales won’t wait for watching.

The lyrical nature of this book, coupled with the deceptively simple (yet gorgeous) illustrations make this one a joy to read over and over (and over and over) and over and over again.

The end is pretty awesome, too.

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2.  When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore

This book is pure fun.  “If you build a perfect sandcastle, a dragon will move in.”  However, only the little boy can actually see the dragon.  All of the dragon’s antics *could* be explained away (are those dragon prints in the sand, or the prints from the boy’s flippers?) and it’s been fun to see Raines start to realize that there’s more to the story.  Also? The book is funny.  Like honestly and ever-so-slightly-dry humor, funny.  Making it another one of the few I can read three times in a row without losing my marbles.

 

3. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

When I was little, this book was called The Lupine Lady.  It’s a story of Alice, a little girl whose grandfather tells her that there are three things she must do in life: visit far away places, live by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful.

This story is simple, yet feels expansive.  It’s heartfelt and meaningful, but never preachy.  The illustrations steal my breath.  It’s a perfect story for setting out on an adventure of your own, or looking up at the stars and trying to make sense of our very small place in this big world.

The book ends with Alice’s great-niece (the narrator all along) saying,

“When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places and come home to live by the sea.”

“That is all very well, little Alice,” says my aunt, “but there is a third thing you must do.”

“What is that?” I ask.

“You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”

“All right,” I say.

But I do not know yet what that can be.

(And the strong woman role model here just totally floats my boat.)

 

4. The Seashore Book by Charlotte Zolotow

One night, a mother is asked by her son to describe the seashore.  This book is her description, complete with illustrations so gorgeous, it’s impossible not to be transported.  The text is longer than most picture books, however, so the littlest ones might have trouble.  However, the author invokes all of the senses (for example the water feels like “peppermint” on your skin) and it never fails to calm my boys.   In fact, this is the book to read at the end of a long summer day.  It’s like reading a lullaby (aka THEY WILL SLEEP.  YESSSSS).

 

These are our summer favorites….I’d sincerely love to hear yours.  (We’re pretty big book nerds around here.)

xo,

S

 

By July 25, 2014 17 No tags Permalink
July 14, 2014

Do You #creativetable? Now There’s a Book To Help You Raise Creative, Curious, Innovators

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I have a secret.  Most mornings, I get to sit quietly and enjoy a cup of coffee (and a piece of chocolate) for a few precious, uninterrupted minutes.  Let’s not go crazy, we’re not talking hours, but if I do things right the night before, my little guys wake up in the morning, make themselves some cereal (I help), and then busy themselves with some kind of project.

Sounds almost too good to be true, right?  I KNOW.  Welcome to the #creativetable.

The #creativetable hashtag can be found on Instagam (and Google+).  It was started by my friend Rachelle (the blogger behind Tinkerlab) and is useful for finding play invitation ideas.  A play invitation (or “create invitation”) is basically a method of setting out a limited number of art/building/similar supplies, and artfully arranging them to entice your child to explore.

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But here’s the key (at least for me):  Once the “invitation” is set up…keep your mouth shut.  As Rachelle says, you “facilitate” not direct….I call this “drinking coffee”.  (potato potahto)

This isn’t a “hey let’s make these cute chicks out of pom-poms and follow my strict instructions by gluing this pom to that pom” kind of an idea.  Rather the goal is to give your kids the space to discover, to wonder, to problem solve.  Nothing shuts down my kids’ creativity faster than instructions from adults.  Have you noticed the same thing? (Along these lines, Rachelle has some amazing guidelines on making art with kids.)

But what I really like about Rachelle’s perspective is that it’s not just about creating, this concept of play invitations.  It’s not really even about making art.  Instead it’s about learning how to problem solve, how to test limits, how to come up with new ways of doing things, new ways of looking at the world.  Giving kids the space to explore, discover, and create (without getting all up in their business) allows kids to develop into the best kind of engineers:  innovative ones.

So how to get started?

It’s helpful to have a (relatively uncluttered) place to create.  My house is almost always a disaster, but I do try to keep one surface clear for our #creativetable (and in the summer, it’s often on the patio).  I like to set things up the night before, so I can do my calm coffee routine in the morning.

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For inspiration and ideas on how to set up your own, check out the #creativetable hashtag on Instagram, explore Tinkerlab, or….for the big announcement….go buy Rachelle’s new book,  Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors.

tinkerlab-book

Now, I consider myself an old hat at the play invitation game (I’ve been doing this kind of thing for almost three years now) but I still found her book to be….grounding.  In the best possible way.

I mean YES:  it’s completely inspiring, too (chock full of ideas), but in a I-can-totally-do-that-let’s-start-now kind of way.  This isn’t one of those beautiful books you’ll sigh over and then feel depressed because you don’t even know where to start.   Rachelle has a whole section on how to create your own Tinkerlab, and the best tools to stock it with.  (Hint:  If you’ve seen our art cart on Instagram….the idea was ALL Rachelle.)  She also has entire sections dedicated to design, building, concocting (my fav! Any other chemistry geeks out there??) and discovering.  I’m loving the way this book successfully blends art-based play with science, and we’re talking everything from paper houses to ‘naked egg’ experiments, from painting to creation of a drawing machine (complete with a toy motor).

I mean seriously.

I have one copy to give away (besides ours which is well worn by now – even R thumbs through it for ideas)….so here’s what we’re gonna do:  We’re going to play.

To enter the giveaway, do the following:

Instagram:

1.  Upload a picture of your own version of #creativetable (no judgement here, Mamas – try anything you want) to Instagram.  Don’t forget to use the #creativetable hashtag!

2.  Follow both myself (@shanachristine) and Rachelle (@Tinkerlab) on Instagram.

3.  “Like”  my instagram giveaway pic to be entered into the giveaway

or…

On Facebook:

1.  Upload a picture of your own version of #creativetable below my post.

2. Make sure you like both The Mom Edit Facebook page and the Tinkerlab Facebook page.

You can also do both, for an additional entry.

The giveaway is open to US, Canada, UK and Australia.  Let’s play!!  (Or…ummm….set things up so the kids play while we relax and enjoy our coffee.)

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xo,

S

Hey!  Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors is currently the #1 best seller in the Crafts for Kids section on Amazon.  Congrats, Rachelle!!

 

By July 14, 2014 17 No tags Permalink
February 5, 2014

Picture Books For Little Thinkers and Dreamers

 

Picturebooks

 

 

I discovered this set of books at Joseph Fox bookstore in Philly.  If you are local, it's totally worth a trip.  For the ease of my readers I'm linking to Amazon below, but all of the books could be ordered and shipped from Joseph Fox by calling the store.

 

Sky High

A long, thin book of intricate ink drawings.  Two neighbors are competing to build the tallest, most ornate, most glorious house…until it all comes tumbling down.  The story is told through pictures, and it's the kind of book that Raines will pour over (a flashlight at bedtime kind of book).  We're starting a family project to draw one together, on paper that covers our entire dining room table.

 

The Conductor

Another long, thin book of gorgeous ink drawings.  This is a book for design freaks and classical music lovers – you can feel the music through the pictures.  Narrating a story to this one would be tough )(at least for me)…but we'll be using it as a drawing prop, with Vivaldi's Winter loudly in the background. 

 

Cinderella: A Fashionable Tale

It's the tried and true story of Cinderella…but done in an Art Deco style, with illustrations that look more like fashion designs.  Cinderella is choosing between classic dresses from Yves St. Laurant, Dior and Vivenne Westwood, to name just a few.  There's a few pages on the history of fashion at the end of this book.  It's a fabulous book for the fashion nerd.  

 

The Hug

"I'm a little alone, and a little with everyone else, and it feels good to be a little bit this and a little bit that" explains the mum to her little boy. In this book, a little boy, Ben, grapples with the strangeness of realizing that we are all completely unique, and therefore, all completely – a little – alone.  This book makes Raines a little bit sad…but it also sparks some really thoughful discussions.  The book ends with the mom showing Ben what to do when he feels alone:  hug.  

Also to be appreciated are the soft pencil drawings.  I love exposing my kids to different mediums, and these types of illustrations are rare in kid's books.  

  

The Day the Crayons Quit

This book has a funny tone (for all ages), and drawings that the kindergarten set can relate to.  This book is my boys' Valentine's Day present.  (shhhhh)

 

Journey

This story is reminiscent of Harold and his purple crayon…but the illustrations in this book are – without exaggeration – jaw-droppingly beautiful.  This book is a treasure. 

 

What other books are you loving, Mamas?

xo,

S

By February 5, 2014 11 No tags Permalink
April 26, 2013

Friday

Photo (81)
I got a Pap smear yesterday.  Whoa, maybe I should say good morning first.  Hope you already had your coffee!  But I booked my appointment in honor of Megan's recent health scare.  The Happiest Mom says go get it done, Mamas.  I did mine.  Now it's your turn.

In semi-related news, I am a MILF.  (Love the folks at True & Co. for coming up with a funny tilt to that ridiculous acronym.)

Have you heard of Sakroots?  They make really cool products, all covered with…art.  I love this clutch for date night, am dying for this water bottle, and would love any of their iPhone cases.   They are currently holding a contest to find their next print, if any of you are art-inclined….

Are any of you on Chictopia?  I joined recently, just to see what the fuss was about.  I'm not totally convinced it's worth my time….between Pinterest and Instagram and Facebook…there's just so much.  Thoughts?  

Also?  I'm loving my old overalls again and Sarah Jessica Parker demonstrates how cool shoes can make even a hoodie look good.

On Monday, I talked about my resolution to spend more time in nature just…sitting….and then I found this article from a local parent's group.  They call it a "sit spot".  Isn't that clever?

I love when books lead to creative play…and Play at Hom Mom found a good one.

If any of you are interested in Reggio-Emelia…Play Outside has created THE BEST series on the Reggio-Emelia approach.  Their emphasis is primarily for pre-school classrooms, but I find a ton of inspiration to pull into the home.  

I think we're headed out to the Creative Clubhouse today (if any of you are local, it's my hands-down fav place to take the kids)….and this weekend I hope to do a little star gazing.  Gosh, I love a good Science Festival.

Happy Friday!

xo,

S

 

January 24, 2013

Hello, Friday. We’re (Barely) Surviving The Chill.

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Mamas, I apologize for the light week.  I had intended to post the promised hair article, but man.  I'm wiped out.  Mike has been gone (since Sun!!) on a business trip, and in his absence, I've broken one coffee cup and two plates, lost the car keys six times, left Pax's winter coat somewhere in Easton, PA (Crayola "Experience" – LAME), and have had to deal with snotty noses and freezing weather ALL WEEK.  Ugh.  (To make matters worse, Mike's trip took him to freakin' HAWAII, so my week has been peppered with super annoying texts like, "Aloha Baby!" and pictures of the big waves on the North Shore.  Awesome, but GAH!!!)

During weeks like these, our Kiwi Crates (full review here) are worth their weight in gold.  If you haven't checked them out in a while…they currently have a charming limited edition crate for Valentine's Day.  It comes with enough (pop-up!) Valentine's for an entire class and is nicely gender-neutral.  But be warned:  unless your little one is pretty dexterous, gluing on the pop-ups is a challenge.  R did exactly one, loved it, and then went about just making his own (non-pop-up) cards.  (Kiwi Crate, if you see this, we'd love more regular cards next year.  And more gem stickers.)  I ended up supplementing with plain folded cards (aka cut-up paper, LOL), and am planning to pick up a few sheets of gem stickers to continue the fun.  

I've been perusing through Laura Barr's list of Games That Make Children (and their parents) Smarter.  Raines is just starting to get into games (the old-school board game kind) and if this cold front keeps up, I may be making a large Amazon game purchase.  (R keeps asking for a chess set after playing a bit at the Art Museum.  How awesome is that??)

Also?  I'm feeling fat and old.  Fat, because my body is no longer making all of those holiday goodies magically disappear (GET WITH THE PROGRAM, aging metabolism!!) and old, because next week is my thirty*cough*somehighnumber*cough* birthday.  WOO. HOO.  To invigorate said metabolism, I signed up for Barre3's 28-to-great program…however, I have only managed to work out THREE times since the beginning of Jan.  Therefore, in order to complete my "goal", I must workout 25 more times before Feb 1.  Right.  Shouldn't be a problem.  

And thank you to Refinery 29 for these tips on how to eat healthy in the dead of winter.  Soup, here I come.

In the midst of one of my (many) pity parties this week, I bought myself a cute, cozy sweater.  (With hearts on it.  For $30.)  It's now sold out, but SheInside is my new favorite place for cute & cheap.  This might be my next purchase.  Of course, their things sell out in roughly 10 minutes, so…..

I also can't stop thinking about these Keds snow boots.  They have a super cool 70's vibe, and would be a fun change-up for anyone sick of their serious snowboots.  Did I mention they are on sale for $30?

Lastly, the highlight of our week was Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  If any of you follow me on instagram (@shanachristine) you'll know that I brought the boys to the art museum to see EB Lewis read from his latest book, Each Kindness.  Well.  Add this one to the List of Books That Make Me Cry.  In this very amazing book, the main character frequently rebuffs the attempts of the "new girl" to be friends.  In the end, the new girl moves away, and the main character realizes too late how she had not chosen the path of kindness.  The book ends with, "I watched the water ripple as the sun set through the maples and the chance of a kindness with Maya became more and more forever gone."  Heavy, right?  But I think it was good for Raines to hear that sometimes, when you make bad choices, you can't always fix it. Since then, we've been talking a lot about kindness, what it means to be kind, and how very small acts of kindness, when added together, really can change the world.  During Mr. Lewis' reading, he mentioned that the concept of kindness is so important that he wished we focused on it for longer than just a day.  I couldn't agree more.  So.  I've decided to act like the time between Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Valentine's Day is Kindness Month.  (I know it's not really a month, but still.)  I've been brainstorming ideas with the boys, and we're trying to do something kind everyday.  I'd love for you to join in – it's always so nice to get inspiration from others.  I'll be posting what we do to Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #kindnesscounts.  

Happy Weekend, Mamas!!  I can't wait for the love of my life to get back home…and I know he picked up some dried mango at the ABC store.  Yay!

xoxo

S

 

 

 

November 1, 2012

Friday Update….(Talking About Hurricane Sandy With The Kiddos)

Mamas, we are all fine.  Happily, we never even lost power.  It was a crazy night – I could actually see transformers blowing when I looked out of our window, and watched an entire block of our neighbors' houses suddenly go dark. 

If you've been following us on Instagram (@shanachristine), you may have seen the picture I took of Raines and I.  Raines, who will be five in Jan, was intensely curious about the storm.  So we ventured out, just to get an idea of the winds.  It was simultaneously awe inspiring and terrifying to experience Sandy…and we hardly bore the brunt of it!

Raines, who is fazed by *almost* nothing was actually pretty nervous that night.  I mean – we did all sleep together on the first floor, so he knew something was up.  And even at four, he can certainly pick up on bits of the news…which frankly, in the days that followed, was heartbreaking.    In hindsight, perhaps we should've shielded him a bit more…but I'm also a firm believer in being honest with my kids.  (My own imagination tends to get the best of me….and is almost always worse than reality.)  Any child psychologists out there who want to weigh in?

In any case, we were one of the lucky ones.  Despite our nervousness, our time with Sandy passed as quality family time.  As a bonus, we were finally able to read all of our library books, which – oh crap!! Are now overdue. (Am I the only one who brings home 45 books?)

Anyway, in some weird cosmic coincidence, two of the books we had sitting at home were about Hurricanes (WHA???).  And these books have actually been really great, allowing Raines to hear about hurricanes from another perspective, talk about what it could have been like, and generally process the event.  (Again, child psychologists, feel free to weigh-in here.)

Anyway, I thought I'd share, for those of you who might be dealing with a similar situation.

Hurricane! by Jonathan London

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This book is (I believe) based on an experience the author had as a kid.  He and his family are living in Puerto Rico, and a hurricane comes.  They pack up quickly, spend a night in the shelter, and return home to pick up the debris.  Happily their house is still standing, and the book ends the way it begins: with the two brothers running happily back into the ocean.  

The illustrations are beautiful, and the night in the shelter is pretty touching.  But I think Raines really likes the whole 'life goes on' aspect as the book comes full circle.  Also, the book is a fast read – the author doesn't dwell, which keeps the suspense down (at an appropriate level) for young kids. 

 

100 School Days
by Anne Rockwell

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This is an awesome book for helping kids (4 and up) understand quantity.  Each day, one of the kids in the class get to put a penny in a jar.  Whenever the jar hits a multiple of 10 (10,20,30, etc) that kid brings in something to correspond (10 matchbox cars, 40 baseball cards, 70 sunflowers, etc.)  Randomly, at the end of this book, once the class has collected 100 pennies, they decide to donate their pennies to help victims from a recent hurricane rebuild.  It was a perfect segue into talking about the hurricane, what now needs to be done, and how we all can help.  

Crazy coincidence, no?

Anyway, Mamas…I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy and happy in the aftermath of Sandy. 

xo,

S

ps.  We'll be back to a regular posting schedule next week.  Thanks for your patience!!

 

 

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