Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Top Nine Must-Read Nonfiction Picture Books for Your Preschooler / Kindergartner



A quirky story about the invention of bubble gum.

The 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast incites panic.

The story of how Jacques Cousteau fell in love with the ocean and made diving and documenting the underwater world his life's work.

A poetic and rhythmic tale about the lightship and its important job.

You won't want to miss the story of the Apollo 11 space mission.

An important story about a brave young girl who leads one of the largest strikes of women workers in U.S. history.

Jen Bryan's biography of the poet/doctor William Carlos Williams makes his life easily accessible to all ages.


The story of Paul Erdos, a genius mathematician who travels the world.

Philippe Petit stretches a wire between the towers of the World Trade Center and entertains onlookers.

You don't want to miss these!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to Get Your Kids Ready to Leave the House for a Pool / Picnic Play Date

-Start getting ready an hour before you have to leave.

-Locate the swimsuits.

-Put the swimsuit on kid #2. Tell kid #1 to put his on. (He is bouncing on his bed.)

-Pack the towels, swim toys, and flotation devices.

-Remind kid #1 to put his bathing suit on.

-Pack everyone a change of clothes for after swimming.

-Put your own swim suit on. Avoid the mirror. If that is impossible, stick with a front-on angle. Whatever you do, don't turn to the side to see how much your belly sticks out. That will just send you on a downward spiral and you'll remember how last time you went to the pool, someone asked if you were pregnant. You weren't. Still aren't.

-Raise your arms. Yep, it's a hairy beast under there. Head to the bathroom for a quick dry-shave.

-Close kid #1 in his room and tell him he can't come out until he has his bathing suit on.

-Scrape together some food to pack for lunch. Throw a whole bag of baby carrots in. There's no time to pack individual bags. And let's be real; you're the only one who is going to eat the carrots anyway.

-Fill up water bottles.

-Listen to kid #1. Yep. He has gotten distracted and is now playing with toys in his room.

-Say, "Vitamin Time!" very loudly next to his door, so he'll be more motivated to get dressed.

-It worked! Kid #1 finally comes out. Everyone does the vitamin dance because you bought gummy vitamins. But you have the plain kind you have to swallow. No happy vitamin dance for you.

-Throw your hair into a ponytail.

-Listen to the sound of a heavy crash in living room.

-Come out to find that kid #2 has somehow unscrewed the lid from the mason jar and dumped a crap-ton of water all over the hardwood floor.

-Grunt in exasperation and mumble about not even being able to put your hair up.

-Throw kid #2 into the crib.

-Grab a towel. Enlist kid #1's help because one towel is not enough. Bribe him with being able to put a sticker on his good behavior chart.

-Use three towels to mop up all the water.

-Listen as another unfamiliar noise arises from the bedroom.  Check on kid #2.

-Whoops. You put him in his crib while he was holding a pencil! You now have "art" all over your wall. There's no one to blame but yourself.

It may look something like this:

-Call your spouse and tell him to make you laugh so you don't cry.

-Shoot down his "eraser party" idea. At least he tried.

-Tell kid #1 to put his shoes on and go to the bathroom.

-Chase kid #2 down to get his shoes on.

-Realize the kids found a packet of confetti, opened it and sprinkled it all around the house. You now have tiny stars, moons, and the word "baby" all over the house and on the bottom of your feet. Curse whoever included the packet in a card (you can't remember who) and curse yourself for not throwing it away when you had the chance.

-Round up the kids, the pool bag, the picnic bag, the diaper bag, and your purse. Congratulations. You're ready to go and you're only fifteen minutes late!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Crazy Week

On Tuesday I got into a car accident. A line of cars was braking and everyone stopped--except the girl behind me. She slammed into my rear bumper. I got some whiplash, but the kids seemed fine. Somehow, in the midst of it all, I did manage to save the dessert on the passenger's seat from launching onto the floor. You can see where my priorities are!

I would never wish for a car accident, but it has been handy to reinforce what we have been saying to E. about the necessity of seat belts and sitting in your seat properly.

Then on Wednesday, we needed milk. Actually, we needed milk on Monday, but I kept putting off the errand (something about two boys, a small space, and glass bottles made me less than enthusiastic). The back of our car was scraped up, but that was all, so I didn't think anything of going downtown to get some milk. I even bought an extra half gallon to make some yogurt, which brought our total up to a gallon and a half. I loaded everyone into the car, turned the key, and heard nothing. Absolutely nothing. Really? Is this really happening? I asked myself, a question I would keep asking as the week went on.

I tried to call Dave, but I wasn't getting any cell phone service (it was a cloudy day) and I had hardly any battery left. I tried calling a friend for a ride, but . . . still, no service. .  .

Right. Alright. So we're really doing this. . .

Thank the Lord, my stroller, huge beast that it is, was in my trunk. I unloaded the kids, reloaded them into the stroller, along with some chicken and three glass bottles full of milk. It was one time I was thankful for a messy car since we had plenty of hats and mittens to keep everyone warm on the almost-two-mile hike back home.

About ten minutes down the road, I was able to reach Dave and he started trying to figure out what to do about the car, which was parked in a two-hour space. He called the city ("please be lenient, we're trying to move our car!") and a towing/auto repair place. But what do you know? The tow truck guy needed the car key. Well, I was not turning around after I had already been walking for half an hour. No, sir. Not a chance. Dave decided (with a little help from me. . . ) to drop the key off on the way home from work and to pray the city would not give us a ticket in the meantime.

The kids and I stopped off at a park on the way and met some friends. Why miss out on a play-date just because of some minor car trouble?

Then the coup de gras on the day: we made it all the way home, and, as I was pushing our stroller up the driveway, one of the milk bottles fell out and shattered, sending a river of whole, grass-fed, low-pasteurized milk down the sidewalk. (Really? Did that just happen!?) I managed to lug them all the way home and then mere feet from door, one half-gallon falls out and breaks??? Whatever. I wanted to go to bed and wake up on a different day. But even that wouldn't have helped. . .

On Thursday, in an unprecedented moment of stupidity--even for me--I put our laptop too close to a candle and burned a big hole into the back of the monitor. I caught it before it went too far, so to speak, but now we have a permanent gray mark about the size of a lime on our computer screen. I thought about blaming the kids, but I'd still come out looking bad for letting my kids play with candles. Oh well. The maple pancake smell was good while it lasted.

P.S. Our car has started every single time since that adventurous morning.

Monday, March 10, 2014

List of 42 New Goals (2014)

Books to Read
1. The Wizard of Oz
2. The House of Spirits- Isabelle Allende
3. Peter Pan
4. The Tiger's Wife
5. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
6. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
7. Woman Hollering Creek
8. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
9. 28 Days to the Work You Love
10. Gaining Ground-Forrest Pritchard

11. Complete the P90X Program

12. Donate something to charity (more than old stuff to Goodwill)
13. Volunteer somewhere
14. Write an anonymous appreciation note
15. Write down 365 blessings I'm grateful for
16. Donate hair to Locks of Love

17. Finish writing a children's book and send it out

18. Pick a place on a map and drive there
19. Plant an herb garden
20. Learn to draw
21. Take and finish a class on coursera
22. Memorize the words to Auld Lang Syne
23. Learn a new dance
24. Do a pull-up
25. Change own oil
26. Find a good dentist and take the whole family there
27. Visit Old Town Alexandria, VA

28. Go 1 month without eating out
29. Use cash envelopes every month. Nothing on the credit card except gas.
30. Get term life insurance for me
31. Make our wills

Food to Try
32. Jicama
33. Kefir
34. Kombucha
35. Nutritional Yeast
36. Parsnip

Movies to Watch
37. Notorious
38. Chariots of Fire
39. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
40. It Happened One Night
41. His Girl Friday
42. Sunset Boulevard