Monday, July 22, 2013

5 Gorgeous Picture Books for Children

The 5 books that I'm about to recommend not only have beautiful illustrations, they are well written and fun to read to your little one. They also have universal appeal, so boys and girls alike are sure to delight in these tales...

The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman
Peter wants only milk, Lucy won't settle for anything but homemade lemonade, and Jack is stuck on applesauce. Each new addition to the Peters household brings a new demand for a special meal. What's a mother to do? Even though Mrs. Peters picks, peels, strains, scrapes, poaches, fries, and kneads, the requests for special foods keep coming. It isn't until her birthday arrives that a present from her children solves the problem with a hilarious surprise that pleases everyone.

The Seeing Stick by Jane Yolen
Hwei Min, the only daughter of the emperor of China, has been blind since birth. Her father offers a reward to anyone who can find a cure for the little girl. It seems that no one from magicians to physicians can help her. Then, one day a wise old man with a mysterious seeing stick visits the princess. Will he be able to teach Hwei Min that there is more than one way to see the world?

The Lion and the Little Red Bird by Elisa Kleven
A little bird discovers why a lion's tail changes color each day.

Wild Child by Lynn Plourde
In a satisfying tribute to the wonders of nature and family, Mother Earth attempts to put her wild child, Autumn, to bed, but Autumn isn't quite ready.

Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
Once upon a time there was an old man and an old woman who were very lonely. They decided to get a cat, but when the old man went out searching, he found not one cat, but millions and billions and trillions of cats! Unable to decide which one would be the best pet, he brought them all home. How the old couple came to have just one cat to call their own is a classic tale that has been loved for generations.

Monday, July 15, 2013

6 Things To Do With Children When There's Nothing To Do

Does anyone else struggle to find ways to entertain their children? (Especially during the loooong summer vacation!) We have a little camp scheduled here and there and find time to visit the library each week. But inevitably we are left with periods of free time that seem to drag on. And on. So I'm sharing my ideas to fill those pockets of time, and I hope you'll share yours in the comments because my pockets can always use a little filling....

Car Wash
There's nothing better than a good old fashioned car wash for hours of good, clean fun. Your little ones will be thoroughly entertained and you'll get a shiny, sparkling car out of the deal. It's a win-win!

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Obviously the recipes of choice are always dessert. There are plenty of healthy dessert options out there, but you can employ your little ones' culinary talents at dinner time if dessert is off the table.

Go beyond crayons. Build with playdough, paint a masterpiece, create with popsicle sticks or pipe cleaners, sculpt with shaving cream. Scan Pinterest for great craft ideas.

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A world of fantasy is always a great escape from boredom. If you're children are too young to read to themselves or they just aren't that into reading on their own, read with them. If you're on a road trip, there's nothing like a book on CD to magically create an atmosphere of quiet.

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Board Games & Puzzles
I'm not a huge fan of puzzles, but some claim they're meditative. Board games or card games are a fun way to pass the time. Hopscotch is always a winner. If you don't have a game that speaks to you on a given day, create your own!

Our own creation - a "Zoo Game"

What is it about bubbles? They mesmerize, they delight. They're beautiful, ethereal, and even a little magical. Even a brand new bottle costs very little, but you can make your own bubble solution and fashion bubble wands out of wire coat hangers. 

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Why I love My Daughter's Best Friends

C & my daughter, friends from the start.
Each of my daughter's friends is unique and has her own strengths and funny little quirks. I am grateful to them all for the lessons they have taught my daughter and for the confidence she has gained through each relationship. Her best friends are especially precious because they provide a safe place for her to practice the social skills we all endeavor to master, from sharing our toys to sharing our hopes and dreams.

Lifelong Friends
I've known C almost as long as I've known my daughter. The two girls met when they were not quite three years old, and today we are neighbors. The two of them are like sisters. I have watched them grow over the years. They are opposites in many ways. Physically, they are on extreme ends of the growth charts - C is small, my daughter is tall. Their dispositions are also opposite: My daughter is reserved and measured, C is boisterous and wild. But they both love magic and animals and climbing trees. They are the best of friends, and I know C will always have a special place in my daughter's heart. C has helped my daughter revel in her own silliness. Most importantly, C is such a close friend that my child feels comfortable speaking her mind, which isn't always easy for a people-pleaser like my daughter.

Kindred Spirits
J & my daughter making pancakes after a sleepover.
Have you ever had a friend who you don't see often, but when you do it's like you've never been apart? J is that friend for my daughter. She moved away a couple of years ago but comes back to visit every so often. The girls are truly kindred spirits. They are similar outside and in. Their mutually reserved personalities create an even playing field. Both girls are smart and creative and never get bored when they are together. Whether they're washing the car or inventing a new board game, they are a pleasure to watch. My daughter can be self-conscious when she's away from the comforts of home. I love seeing her be herself with this person she rarely sees. I am grateful to J for showing my daughter what it feels like to be comfortable with being yourself, even in the face of the unfamiliar.

My daughter is still young, so I'm able to influence whom she chooses to befriend. I know the day will come when she'll be solely in charge of those choices. I am hopeful that these early friendships will help establish a good foundation for my daughter's future relationships. One thing I do know: Spending her time with these special little girls is a gift.