Saturday, April 8, 2017

April and Easter Book Shelf

Somehow this first week of April has flown right by.  It was a yucky, rainy week and I'm not feeling in the most spring-y mood, so I've been dragging my feet a bit when it comes to thinking about fun spring things for my book highlight. We also started out the month with a little tummy bug for E, who thankfully recovered quickly, and just in time to enjoy some extra time with his Daddy home on vacation! With those little distractions I am just getting the shelf changed over to highlight some of our Easter books now.  Hopefully I can get my act together and do a better highlight into our next set of books and activities.

E's Easter #shelfie

What we are reading this month:

"The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams:

We have three different versions of this classic!  I truly love this timeless story of a special and loved little bunny and his journey to becoming "real".  It makes me a tiny but emotional to remember the special things that were real to me throughout childhood.  It also causes me to pause and think about the beloved friends that are "real" to my little ones.  

Our three copies of "The Veleveteen Rabbit" include the original, a board book, and an abridged picture book. 

Fun to compare:  The scene where the Velveteen Rabbit becomes Real

"Duck and Goose: Here Comes the Easter Bunny" by Tad Hills:

Another adventure with Duck and Goose that is silly fun for toddlers.  Duck and Goose search for a place to hide in order to catch a glimpse of the Easter Bunny.  They check out lots of silly places, but end up falling asleep before they see the  mysterious bunny!

What came first--the duck, the goose, or the egg?

"Disney Bunnies: All Ears" by Calliope Glass

A quick, fun, interactive toddler read.  With attached flexible, furry ears, to help Thumper express how he is feeling, this book is a cute way to talk about some basic emotions.  Of course, E loves any book with an interactive component.

Hello there, Fuzzy Ears

"Where are Baby's Easter Eggs?" by Karen Katz

This bright and cheery book is perfect for spring and would be so cute in a little one's Easter basket.  It is part of the popular series of Baby's lift the flap while searching adventures.  This time we get to help Baby look for Easter eggs, but find some fun spring surprises along the way!

Kinda jealous that Baby found a garden with gingham and polka dotted flowers...
My goal this week is to do some quick, cute Easter crafts or activities and get a blog up, so stay tuned for that!  And I am excited to share our Easter basket books once that silly bunny delivers them! Cya then!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Rainy Day Play

Today has been one of those early spring, dreary rain type of days.  The type where you wish to cuddle into a nice fluffy pile of blankets, eat warm cookies, and watch movies all day long.  You know it's a lazy day when your high energy toddler sleeps in until almost 10 am! Seriously, that happened.  I had to go check on him a few extra times, because that is seriously not him!

As nice as it can be to picture a lazy rainy day spent relaxing, that often isn't the case with kiddos.  Lots of rainy days can quickly turn boring, when the kiddos and Mom begin to feel a little trapped.  Or when the idea of watching Frozen for the fourth time in a row gets a little old.  Also, I'm aware that we are a little late hopping on the Frozen train, but E wasn't around in the back in Frozen's heyday.  So I love try to keep something different on had for these rainy days.  E loves anything that isn't actually a toy, so I have been coming up with some not toy play ideas for our rainy days. He also loves collecting things, so I figured being able to carry around a bunch of fluffy little pompoms would be fun for him!

Our latest not-a-toy play material are these awesome little pom poms from Target!  There are a few other color assortments if your kiddo has a preference, and of course you could find pom poms pretty much anywhere if you don't have any on hand.  I liked these particular ones because they came in a variety of sizes and shades of blue, so they will be fun for all kinds of sorting activities on another day.

In keeping with our vehicle reading theme, and well, because E loves his trucks, I put out a fun little play set up for E involving his trucks, pom poms, and some kitchen utensils and other tools.  If E can't play with his trucks out in the dirt, he needs something to load them up with!  

Thanks to Dad for the sectioned veggie tray that NEEDED to be reused after a party considering it cost $11.99 for some pretty sad looking carrots and celery!

Loading up the dump truck!

And with that I was chasing pompoms around the house for the rest of the day!  Who has a fun rainy day or indoors, boredom busting activity?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

March Books on the Move

I've been waiting for March as the perfect time to highlight some of  E's vehicle books!  Here in New England, we can count on March to bring us at least a few good thawing out days.  That is before Mother Nature reminds us that it's never really safe to assume it is spring in New England, until sometime in April.  Regardless, those early sunny days are perfect for getting back outside and into some dirt and mud to play with your trucks! After an entire winter longing to spend the afternoons outside, E is loving every moment of his outdoors time over the past few days.  Since he has been big time loving on his trucks lately, and is bound to become even more enamored in the coming weeks, it is a perfect time to focus on all things vehicular in his reading as well!

Who am I kidding, we play with trucks outside no matter the weather!

Here are a few highlights of what we are reading this month: 



"Digger, Dozer, Dumper" by Hope Vestergaard:

I can already tell that this book is going to be a favorite of E for a long time! A nice rhyming verse with an explanation of each vehicles purpose is accompanied by adorable illustrations of  each vehicle going about it's job.  There are quite a few different vehicles highlighted, including construction vehicles, and others you might see within your community.  E can't sit for the whole book right now, but it is so easy to pick up where we left off previously, or even just let him choose random pages with whichever vehicles appeal to him at that moment.  Not to mention it works as a resource for this momma, who has about zero knowledge of which truck is which.  Seriously, I can identify a dump truck and that's about it.  Thank goodness that I will be able to learn alongside E as we are bound to read this book over and over!

Love the humor in this book!

"B is for Bulldozer" by June Sobel:

This nice little alphabet board book highlights each letter, as they might be used to describe  the sights and sounds of a construction sight.  What I really enjoy about this book, is that rather than a string of alphabet letters with theme related words, it actually tells a complete story.  If the reader pays close attention to the illustrations, you can follow along as the children observe the construction project come along through the seasons, leading up to a fun surprise at the end!  I'm not one to spoil a surprise, but I can give a hint--the construction project ends with something that can ZOOM!  A quick read, perfect for little ones.

"E" happens to be a favorite letter in this house.

"Dig, Dig, Digging" by Margaret Mayo:

This book came highly recommended to me when I was gifted a copy at my baby shower.  It was gifted to me by a coworker, who happily reminisced about her son's love of the book.  My own son definitely enjoys it as well, and it is one that we read frequently.  The pages each feature a different truck, and carry on a predictable pattern and rhyme to describe the tasks the truck does each day.  Little ones watch the busy vehicles work hard all day, and the story finishes with a time to rest message for the trucks, and equally busy little movers.

Bulldozer...another one of the few vehicles I can identify

Side note: While I fully appreciate any gift, and especially books, I really love when people give their personal favorites, and anything a little out of the ordinary. It's so special to be able to think about the giver when enjoying the books with your child.  When the book is one that is a little out of the ordinary, it is just so much easier to connect with the gift giver than when it is the third copy of "Goodnight Moon".  So I encourage everyone to think outside the box a little next time they gift a book to a child-your personal favorite just might inspire a new fan!

"Old MacDonald had a Truck" by Steve Goetz:

This book really is so much fun.  I love that it takes a song most kiddos are familiar with, and adds a different twist to it!   Old MacDonald actually has more than just a truck in this story, he has a whole bunch of trucks.  Preschoolers will love singing along with the familiar Old MacDonald tune and enjoy the surprise at the end of each E-I-E-I-O.  Plus, Old MacDonald has a little something up his sleeve, with all the busy working trucks.  You'll have to check out the book to see what it is!


"I am a Fire Truck" by Josephine Page:

This super cute fire truck shape book is great for toddlers!  E loves to "drive" this book around, and anything that gets him engaged with a book makes me happy!  It's a really quick read, with just a few pages of a sentence or two each, to explain different types of fire department vehicles.  "I am a Fire Truck" is my perfect diaper bar book--I keep it in there for something different to pull out while waiting at the doctor's office, or for E to look at while in his car seat, and it never gets old! Also available are dump truck, train, and garbage truck versions.

How cute is this?!

I really love our little collection of vehicle books, and find that they give so many opportunities for conversations outside of our reading nook. It is great to see these vehicles out and about, doing their jobs in our community, and be able to use or reading time to learn more about them!  And of course, all this truck talk carries right over into playtime as well!

Dump truck or food truck?

What about you? Do you have any favorite vehicle books?

Friday, February 3, 2017

February Book Picks

Ah, February, the month of all things sweet. Lots of hugs and kisses, love, friendship, and sweet treats (extra for me since it's my birthday month)! This month I highlighted a few books that fit these themes for our monthly book shelf. Plus I've included a super quick and easy fun Valentine's Day craft. It's "sleep deprived mom of 2 under 2" tested and approved, so you know it will be low effort but still cute! Oh man, I could say a lot about that sleep deprived thing right now...the 4 month sleep regression is alive and well in this house, let me tell you! Good thing Miss C is super cute and cuddly...although I do appreciate her cute-and-cuddliness way more at times that don't fall between the hours of 11pm and 5 am. Anyhow, enough of my complaining, let's get down to business!


Here's what we are reading this month:

"Love is a Truck" and "Love is a Tutu" by Amy Novesky:

I first spotted these two books a few months ago, back before Christmas.  I was tempted, but I resisted the urge to buy them around the holidays, knowing they would make the perfect gifts for E and C to "give" each other. Not that either of them is even remotely aware of getting or giving gifts, but it's a great excuse to buy a couple cute books never to early to foster a little sibling love right?

"Love is a Truck" and "Love is a Tutu" show the many faces that love can take on. From a toddler's loving obsession with a favorite toy, pastime, or category, all the way to the unique love with have with a special person. These books just hit home so easily when you are living in toddler land. I mean, the little boy who loves all things trucks is just so spot on my son. He is always pushing a truck, riding a truck, collecting his truck puzzle pieces, reading truck books, zooming and vrooming.  I love how these books made me think about all the little "loves" that our kiddos take on as they grow, and how silly they can be sometimes. Seriously, over the past two weeks, E's favorite "toy" has been a handful of pencils-he certainly would be saying "Love is a pencil" right now, if he could form sentences, that is! Plus, the bright, bold, tricolor illustrations are totally awesome as well, and make these books easy to spot on the shelf!

You make my heart go Vroom Vroom!
You love me?! I love you tutu!

"Three Little Words" by Clemency Pearce:

This adorably illustrated picture book explores three special little words, and all the instances where hearing them makes you feel so much better! Friendly little forest animals experience some common negative experiences that preschoolers may also go through...losing a race, scary dreams, meeting new friends...and find that hearing "I love you!" from a family member can make those yucky feelings disappear!  The final pages turn it around and give little ones a chance to think about how they can make someone else's yucky feelings disappear...I'll give you a hint-it's by saying "four little words". Any book that gives toddlers and preschoolers the opportunity to explore their feelings and help open up discussion about them is certainly a great resource, and this book could definitely do that!
A Perfect Cuddle Bedtime Story

"Duck and Goose: Goose Needs a Hug" by Tad Hills:

Well, with my over tired Mommy brain, I pulled out the "wrong" Duck and Goose book...I was totally thinking of "Duck and Goose: How Are You Feeling?" for Valentine's Day, but this one works too!  I actually forgot about a bunch of our love themed books while I was planning out which books to feature this month, oops!  Anyways, we love all the "Duck and Goose" books! Duck, Goose, and their friends are lovable in the same way my toddler is lately-adorable, silly, a little bossy at times, and occasionally misunderstood!  In this story, Goose is feeling a little sad.  His friends want to cheer him up, and try lots of different things,  Eventually they find out just what Goose needs, simply by listening to what he has to say! A perfect lesson for littles (and a reminder for moms and dads too), that sometimes the best way to help someone out is by hearing what they have to say! This book works pretty well in combination with "Three Little Words" to get kiddos talking about their own feelings, and feelings that others have too!

A glass of wine?

**Bonus** Busy Mommy Craft-Conversation Heart inspired garland:

So I love Pinterest as much as the next girl. And I've actually made my share of Pinterest projects that have turned out pretty good (and a few fails too). However, sometimes I want to just do a craft that can be completed in less than one nap time (the dishes aren't going to do themselves, and all that), with materials that I already have laying around.

E's shelf garland relocated to a toddler safe zone.
He doesn't always approve of my Mom crafts, obviously.

 Enter the Busy Mommy Craft. As easy as one, two, three (four):

  1.  Using construction paper or scrapbook paper, cut out some simple heart shapes.
  2. Write love themed sayings on each heart.  You could choose your favorite traditional Conversation Heart sayings, or make up your own! You could even have your little ones help by making up their own creative phrases. If you need some inspiration, check out this Smithsonian article that details the history of this favorite candy, and is sprinkled with favorite sayings both old and new.
  3. If you have a hole punch, use that to create holes on each side of your heart, about 1/3 of the way down from the top. 
  4. Using a length of wide ribbon or tulle, thread through the two holes in each heart. You can adjust the spacing of the hearts after they are all strung on, and to fit how you like them in the space of your choosing. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Multicultural Children's Book Day!

Welcome to my post in celebration of the Multicultural Children's Book Day! This year, I have had the pleasure of being a book reviewer! I'll let you know all about that in just a sec, but first, here's some info from the lovely people who set this whole day up!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.  Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that. Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett AbourayaVeronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen BurkinshawMaria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid ImaniGwen Jackson Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O'MalleyStacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda PaulAnnette PimentelGreg RansomSandra Richards, Elsa TakaokaGraciela TiscareƱo-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
MCBD Links to remember:MCBD site: Multicultural Books for Teachers: Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents:
What a fun day it was when I opened my mailbox and found that my review books had arrived! I received a beautiful little set of board books, "Little Artists Books" by Niki Daly, published by Kane Miller Books. Little E and I were immediately drawn in by the cherry illustrations, and simple, happy stories.  This sweet little set comes together in a cute little slipcase, which Little E quickly took to carrying around the house.  The books are just the right size for little hands to grasp onto, and make it easy for toddlers to turn the pages all on their own.  Each story follows a different child on a different artistic endeavor-music, painting, dancing, or fashion design.  The stories depict children of different races taking part in these beloved childhood activities.  I find that the simplistic nature of the stories and settings make it easy for a young child to connect to. What little toddler doesn't love painting or music; dancing or dress up?  I love that my kiddos can see children that look a little different from them, as well as some who look similar, all engaging in activities that my little ones enjoy!

The four "Little Artists Books" by Niki Daly

To expand on the fun of the "Little Artists Books", I decided to do a little art and music infusion project with my 1.5 year old, Little E. Little E has been having a blast ignoring his lovely store bought toys after Christmas, in favor for a more homemade, recycling bin variety.  I'm totally one to embrace that, which is what, along with the music and art themes in the "Little Artists Books", inspired me to help him out with a "Recycle Bin Rock Band".

I decided to break the fun up into three days, to encourage a few repeated readings of the books.  Also, I'm not that much of a crazy person to believe that we would continue to have fun with this all in one sitting, while I also entertained 4 month old Miss C. On our first day we did some recycle bin art and focused on the Little Artist story "Carlos".  Carlos makes some pretty awesome paintings, and his story points out different colors, shapes, and lines.  I wanted to give Little E a chance to play around with those same elements, so we broke out the finger paint and got to work. With a little scurrying around the house, I found Little E some tools that he could use to create different types on lines and shapes with his finger paints. Awesome stuff  we used included a plastic fork (great for tiny dots and straight lines), a cotton ball (for big dots), a foam brush, the cap from a fruit and yogurt pouch (perfect circles!), and a q-tip.

Our paint exploration materials and "Carlos" book

With a little quick prep (high chair for mess containment, baby wipes for clean up) it was easy to let Little E go crazy for a bit as he explored with his different tools.

Forks make great dots and sets of stripes!

A nice blue smear from a foam brush.

Mixing colors and tools!

On Day 2 we focused on the Little Artist story "Mondi".   Mondi loves to make music! So we went scurrying around the house yet again and found all the supplies we needed for a fun, homemade rain marker instrument.  It is so easy, and you can do it too!

  1. Raid your recycle bin for a long container-we used a Pringles can!
  2. Fill the can with about 10 sticks, collected from the back yard. 
  3. Add in some small filler material (rice, dried beads, small beads, etc). We used birdseed, because it happened to be the first thing I found. Obviously, if you have little ones, use your judgement and appropriate supervision with this project and any chokeable parts. The twigs will filter the filler material giving it a rain like sound. Play around with how much filler you add based off of what sound you like best-it will vary based on your container shape, number of sticks, type of material used. This is a great way to get older kiddos involved-they will love making predictions about how the sounds change based on all of these variables.
  4. Use duct tape to secure the lid to the container. We simply wrapped a piece around where the two pieces meet.
  5. We used our lovely art from Day 1 to cover our container and make our instrument beautiful!
  6. That's it-you are ready to enjoy!

Our "Mondi" book and rain maker instrument

To celebrate all of our hard work, on Day 3 we had our "Recycle Bin Rock Band" concert, in front of all our favorite teddy bear friends! We are looking forward to seeing all the other books and ideas shared throughout the day today to celebrate and bring awareness to the importance of multicultural books!

Rock on!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Let it Snow!

It's safe to say winter has arrived here in New England, with several snow storms throughout the region in the past few weeks! This month E's bookshelf is spotlighting books about snow, and the many different experiences we can have with it!

I spy, with my little eye, someone RED!

"The Mitten" by Jan Brett: Many are familiar with Brett's retelling of this classic Ukrainian folk tale. Her beautiful illustrations bring to life winter scenes from a time and place far away. The story is of a little boy who has lost one of his snowy white mittens, and the animals who find it. It is simple enough for the youngest readers to follow along, but the illustrations add plenty of interest for older children as well.

"White Snow, Bright Snow" by Alvin Tresselt: This story, originally published in 1947, depicts the first snowfall in a small town. It has an old time classic charm, as we follow the activities of several different members of the community. There are great opportunities for children to compare and contrast with the different activities of characters at the first snow and first sign of spring, or between the different ways each neighbor reacts to the snow.

"The Little Snowplow" by Lora Koehler: A sweet story for younger children who might feel like being little isn't great. A new little snowplow has joined the city garage, but the other vehicles don't think he will be much of a help with the impending winter storms. Little Snowplow spends his time practicing and practicing, and when the biggest storm of all arrives, he finds out that being little-and working hard-can have there advantages.

"Snowmen at Night" by Caralyn Buehner: This is when of those books that makes me think "Why didn't I think of that?"! Find out what snowmen do at night, and why they sometimes end up looking so different from when they were first built. As a bonus, the illustrations have hidden pictures on each page. A great story full of imagination!

"Hideaway Husky" by Lisa McCue: This story is surprisingly cute for a book written to go along with a toy. I had low expectations but it turned out to be a nice read with cute illustrations. Paw is the smallest husky at the ranch, and really wants to be a part of the dogsled team. He proves his worth when a young child gets lost in a snowstorm and Paw comes to the rescue!


Winter is such a great time to cozy up with some books! What are your favorite reads during the winter?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Books

We are just starting out our family Christmas book collection. One of the best parts of having little ones comes at this time of year. Watching them experience the magic of the season is so inspiring, and sharing traditions with my kiddos is certainly something I look forward to as they grow. Of course part of those traditions comes in sharing a few Christmas stories throughout the season. Here are a few highlights from what we are reading this month...


"The Sweet Smell of Christmas" Patricia Scarry- Boy does this one bring back some memories! If you haven't seen this book yet, it's a sweet little story of a little bear who is experiencing the Christmas season through lots of yummy smells. Of course it's scratch and sniff, the best part!  I noticed it popping up here and there on my Instagram feed in the last few weeks! Suddenly I was transported back in time, remembering the smell of the pine tree and candy cane hidden on the pages. I called up my mom to see if she remembered all of the smells and we enjoyed reminiscing about the book. A few days later, we just so happened to be searching for an entirely different, non Christmas book at Barnes and Noble and I just so happened to spot this one on the shelves! I snatched it up to add to our collection. I think E will really enjoy it next year, when he is a little more capable of the whole scratch and sniff business!

"Duck and Goose: It's Time for Christmas!" By Tad Hills- We are big Duck and Goose fans at the moment. The characters are adorable, the themes are relatable, and they are just long enough to hold the attention of a squirming toddler (I'm looking at you E)! This Christmas tale features Duck and Goose engaging in a variety of winter activities, before finally taking part in a favorite Christmas tradition.!

"Click, Clack, Ho!, Ho!, Ho!" By Doreen Cronin- I've found that any book that features a story within a story is really fun for kids. They love being in the know as something is going on that other characters have yet to find out! In this tale, silly Duck tries to take on the role of Santa-until he gets stuck! He needs help from his barn yard pals and a special friend. Meanwhile, the Farmer is patiently waiting for Santa, little does he know he's about to be in for a big surprise! Lots of silly Christmas fun!

"The Story of Christmas" By Patricia Pingry- This simple story tells the Christmas story in a simple way that is easy for even the smallest kiddos to listen to and find meaning it. It also connects the Christmas story to the Christmas celebration many children are very familiar with-exchanging gifts.

"The Polar Express"  By Chris Van Allsburg- Many love this Christmas classic. It holds a special place in my heart for the tradition my sister and I created around it, and now share with my kiddos. It's just a simple reading of the story of Christmas Eve right before bedtime, but it's something that my sister and I cherish, and I hope my children will too. This story is just so perfect, a description of it really can't do it justice.

Love this page, and this scene in the movie!

I have been enjoying sharing these books with my little ones this month, and look forward to our collection growing as we celebrate many more Christmases to come!