Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Finding Books for Children

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     We have all been there, even as adults when we can't find a book we want to read, something that interests us and grips our attention so we don't want to put the book down.  It is the same way with children.  Over the years I have come up with some tried and true ways to find new books.

1.  Ask your child's teacher they are a wealth of knowledge about books for their reading level and interests.

2.  Every year our schools have what they call battle of the books.  I choose 1 book from the battle of the book choices to read out loud to my children.  These books are always great!!!

3.  Visit the library or bookstore and read a few pages of a new book that has come out.  I have found several fabulous new books this way and what is better if they are in a series you have now found several new books.

4.  Talk to your friends with children your child's age.  Ask them their family favorites. 

5.  Google, google, google!  Yep their are other blogs out there with lists of books for kids...google it, there are some great lists.  Also if you child has a topic they really love you can google for books on the topic. 

6.  This is my absolute favorite resource...there is a book called Honey for a Child's Heart(there is a teen version too) by Gladys Hunt and Barbra Hampton. This is a book with different chapters and categories to help you find books for your children.  If you want to find a book on honesty there is a category for it.  If you want to find a book about sports or non-fiction again they have chapter with lists of books, good books, books that will build character and spark imagination.  These books are my number one resource books I own and am so grateful I found them, through a friend(see number 4) actually and they have certainly been a huge blessing!!!

    

Monday, March 25, 2013

Books For Children- The List

     I could write lists and lists of books to read with children but I thought instead of saying here is the card catalog for the national library I would narrow it down to our families absolute favorites, a couple of categories, and a quick why and some of the whys are going to be written by my kiddos it should be fun, fun, fun! Then on Wednesday I am going to share how I find new books for my children to enjoy...ONTO THE LISTS...



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Picture Books and Early Readers

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon (any mom with a girl should get this book and own it, a great reminder to be yourself)

A Growing Story by Ruth Krauss (the story and illustrations are darling)

Any book  by Dr. Seuss (its Dr Seuss enough said)

Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle  (childrens ability to retell this story and how proud they are...priceless)

If You Give A Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff  (this book so reminds me of how my mind works)

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson (you know there is no such thing as a Gruffalo or maybe there is...very clever)

Lu and the Swamp Ghost by James Carville (touching..you only need family and a one good friend)

I'll Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (warms my heart)

I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak (teaches you love your kids no matter what)

Someday by Alison McGhee (again warms my heart)

Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff (I love how this book brings out the imagination of a child, just imagine a dinosaur coming and spending the day with you)

Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor (for all the little girls out there that love to be fancy)

Any Book by Sandra Boynton (I am a very visual person and I love the illustrations and it helps that the stories are funny and sing songy)

Oh What a Busy Day by Gyo Fujikawa (again the illustrations and the wanderings of the imagination)

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (we all have them)

How do Dinosaurs... by Jane Yolen (again the illustrations of these books crack me up and they teach something too)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (this book is like science on a canvas...love I

It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw (the use of a childs imagination is a wonderous thing)

Mud by Wendy Cheyette Lewison (silly and fun)

Down on the Funny Farm by P. E. King (again just silly and makes the children want to read it again and again)

Buzz Said the Bee by Wendy Cheyette Lewison (repetition and funny illustrations)

Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant (a book about a boy and his dog how could you not love them)

Biscuit goes to School by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (the illustrations again are the cutest)

No David by David Shannon (again with the illustrations and the sweet message at the end)

Princess Princess by Penny Dale (the poetic flow of the book is enchanting)

The Big Orange Splot by  Daniel Manus Pinkwater (this is truly the book when I was a child that had me think out of the box with my imagination and creativeness)

The Empty Pot by Demi (a book about honesty and its importance)

Have You Filled a Bucket Today by Carol McCloud (Are you a bucket filler or dipper, teaching kindness)





Chapter Books {*denotes a series)

Dragon Keepers* by Kate Klimo (very interesting and well detailed)

Harry Potter* by J.K. Rowling (I will tell you I had a 10 year old when these books first came out and he had no desire to read them...then he was about 15 the first few movies came out and that was it..they are imaginative and a fabulous read for young and not so young)

Little House on the Prairie* by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I read them my daughter is reading them they are just good story telling of a time not too long ago)

Diary of the Wimpy Kid* by Jeff Kinney(I will tell you I was not a fan of these books at all until the latest one came out The Third Wheel.  I read with the 3rd and 4th graders 3 times a week and this book just came out I heard so many portions of the book that I finally decided I needed to read it myself because I was honestly just laughing and grinning the whole time they were reading to me...they are funny and such reminders of the ridiculous of even our own childhoods)

Ramona* by Judy Blume (Ramona is silly)

The Boxcar Children* by Gertrude Chandler Warner (they are creative, liked how they made the boxcar, ingenuitive)

Nancy Clancy*(these are the new Fancy Nancy chapter books) by Jane O'Connor ( I was so happy to see these chapter books.  My daughter LOVED the fancy nancy books but was getting too old for them and so these have been great for her with a character she is familiar with)

Theodore Boone* by John Grisham (John Grisham is my FAVORTIE author and so when he started the Theodore Boone series of books I was thrilled to have a law book I could read with my kids)

The Giver by Lois Lowry (imagine living a happy life, no strife no trials...what a life right or maybe not)

Willawaw by Tom Bodett (this is just good writing period and he takes right to that place with his descriptive writing style)

Secret Agent Jack Stalwart* by Elizabeth Singer Hunt (loves the gadgets and  visits different countries)

The Magic Tree House* by Mary Pope Osborne (I stated in my last post about my child who thirsted for knowledge well these books fit the bill for him, full of knowledge and adventure)

Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (just plain funny from beginning to end)

Freckle Juice by Judy Blume (for the bit of gullible in all of us)

The Heros Guide To* by Christopher Healy(this is a new series and we are on the countdown right now for the second book to come out my 10 year old son LOVED it and can hardly wait, he even said today ,"That April 29th is going to be the longest day ever", because the book comes out on the 30th)

Whatever After* by Sarah Mlynowski(this is a relative new series as well and my daughter loves them...great twist on old classic fairy tales)

Anne of Green Gables* by Lucy Maude Montgomery (one word ANNE she is fabulous and such a character you just want to keep reading about her)

Choose Your Own Adventure* by R A Montgomery (these actually used to be my husbands favorite books as a child because as you read you get to make choices of how the story is going to go and they take you on grand adventures from down in the depths under the sea to the rainforest to outer space...fabulous concept and the story can change every time you read it)

The Last Newspaper Boy in America by Sue Corbett (mystery, suspense, and humor...a winning combo)

The Classroom Series* by Robin Mellom(this is also a newer series but let me tell you hilarious, from the random illustrations to the real life antics that happen in middle schools all over the country)

Flat Stanley* by Jeff Brown (who doesn't love books about traveling the world on grand adventures)

Dinosaur Cove* by Rex Stone (likes the idea of traveling in time)


    I truly could go on and on about fabulous books for children but these our some of our very favorites..enjoy!!!

Be Awesome,
 
Julia

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Reading with Children....Where to Begin?

    This post and several others about one of my favorite topics reading and specifically reading with children has been on my mind.  I had the posts all set in my mind what they each were going to be about and then I started running a fever.  If you do not know this after you have pneumonia when you get sick the next time you get really sick and luckily for me I did not get pneumonia again but I did run a fever for 5 days and then had a little reprieve for a few days and then a fever again for 2 days.  Now that I am back to feeling a bit like myself and caught up around here, well as much caught up as someone who avoids housework like the plague and has 3 children at home can be...I feel like I can write my next post about reading with children.

     This is just the basics to get you started on a path to reading with your children and cultivate children that LOVE to read or at least tolerate it!!!


     As parents we want our children to be at the same level as their classmates at the very least when it comes to the world of academia but not all children are the same so that is note one...children are NOT all the same.  One of my children before they were 2 knew all the letters in the alphabet, upper and lower case and knew what sound they made.  Now notice I said one.  One of my other children at that same age barely spoke 50 words.  Even in homes children are vastly different and that is okay.

     Now that we are okay with where our child is at, the next question I ask myself is what do they love?  One of my children hated reading and to this day is not a huge fan but you could get him to read anything about animals, another one loved a field trip to an old homestead and books in that era became her favorites, another one has a thirst for knowledge so anything non-fiction is right up his ally, and the other one doesn't care as long as it is not too hard for him and he likes to read about things that are familiar to him.

      You know what they love and so now is the fun part finding books to match their loves.  Your local library is a great resource but you can also find inexpensive books at used book stores, garage sales, and even amazon.com has great deals at times. 

     Have the books available to them, in a basket, on a shelf just for them, a bin, a cabinet, somewhere in your home where they can have access to them whenever they want. 

    Not all children are drawn to books so set aside some time everyday to read to them, with them, or have some time for them to read by themselves once they are old enough.

    If you really have a child that hates reading...reward them for it.   I do have a 2 fold reward system for my own children and they don't hate it but it has been a huge blessing for me as a mom.  1. They earn computer or TV time on Friday and Saturday for reading(I will blog about that little system at another time) and  2. They earn a book worm(gummi worms) for meeting their goal time everyday, I have this system in place for a long time and  . I like that one is a immediate reward and the other is more long term earning.

   To kind of wrap this whole thing up remember children are not all the same and that is okay, find their love and find books to go with it, have them easily available to them, set aside time everyday, and reward them in whatever way works best for your family.

     Teaching your children to love reading is one of the best gifts we can give our children.  There are a million adventures out there and they all can start by turning a page in a book!!!

    On Monday I am going to share some of our favorite books around here!!!!

BE AWESOME,
JULIA

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cooking with the Kids{Asian Pasta}

Our family loves Asian food or should I say American Asian food as well as they should.  My husband lived in Hong Kong for a few years as a child and has fond memories and that culture holds a special place in his heart to this day.  We find ourselves quite often eating food with an Asian flare and this is one of our faves...
 
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Lots of grating, dicing, and chopping for this one.  So my 10 and 9 year old got to it.  While my 7 year old helped with adding water to the pot and oil to the skillet, he also made the sauce-he loves to whisk!!!
 
 
{Ingredients}
 

16 ounces uncooked whole wheat angel hair pasta
2 cups diced cooked grilled chicken breast
2 cup fresh snow peas
1 cup shredded carrots
6 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoon sugar or honey

{Directions}
Add oil and garlic* to a large skillet, making sure to coat the garlic with the oil and let sit on no heat.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Once pasta is on in the large skillet, sauté the snow peas, carrots and onions in oil until crisp-tender add chicken and cook one minute longer.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce and sugar.  Drain pasta. Add pasta and soy sauce mixture to skillet and toss to coat. Heat through. Yield: 6 servings.

*I have taken my fair share of cooking classes and I always learn something new.  Did you know if you throw garlic into a hot pan with oil you seal the flavor in, you virtually are deep frying your garlic?  If ever a recipe says to add garlic to a hot pan DO NOT do it...add it to a cold pan with the oil and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  The oils from the garlic release into your cooking oil and give your food a wonderful flavor not to mention a super yummy smelling house.

Be Awesome,
 
Julia

 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Reading {A Tradition}

With reading month under way I wanted to share my thoughts about reading with my children and the impact it has had on us.    

Years ago I heard a talk given by President Thomas S Monson  entitled Hallmarks of a Happy Home .  The portion of this talk that left the deepest imprint was the 2nd hallmark: our homes needed to be a library of learning.  I love this little poem he read in this talk:

Books are keys to wisdom’s treasure;
Books are gates to lands of pleasure;
Books are paths that upward lead;
Books are friends. Come, let us read

 From that moment on my home became filled with good books, tools for learning, and a focus on learning about the world around us.

 



     I still remember the first time I read a book to my children that was a book they could not read themselves.  We were camping and every evening as the fire was being built I would read one of my childhood favorites Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.  The children sat in their little camp chairs hanging on every word and giggling in the funny moments and rolling on the ground in laughter at the thought of cereal being dumped over Fudges head.  Of all the things we did that camping trip the one they still talk about to this day is reading around the fire and having grasshoppers and worms for dessert.  A tradition was born on both accounts.   No matter where we go on vacation they know there is going to be a book to be read.

     I am always reading with my children.  We read our scriptures and they have things they need to read to me for school.  I go to their classrooms 5 times a week and read with them and their classmates for 7 hours. We have 20-30 minutes set aside after school for them to read.  l felt like I was doing a good job as a parent with the whole reading to my children thing.

     Last fall on a whim I bought tickets to a play for our family to see-Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  My children actually love plays and so I was super excited to surprise them with a night out.  As I was buying these tickets I noticed they were also selling ticket to 2 other productions I thought my children would love-Anne of Green Gables and The Jungle Book. I was super excited to buy my first Christmas gift.   Along with buying tickets for these shows I bought the books as well.  They were so excited as they unwrapped their books Christmas morning but imagine their surprise when they opened up the front cover and discovered theater tickets too!

    Something however from the time of buying those tickets to Christmas morning happened, a thought that just would not leave my mind was, I needed to start reading to them everyday starting now.  Not just on vacation, not just the scriptures, not special books to read before we attend a play, not the homework books but books I love and I need to do it everyday.

      Now I pick a book and I  read as the boys doodle or play with Legos(read the book The Mind of Boys and you will understand why allow my boys to play or doodle while I read) and my girl is always  snuggled right next to me.  Have we done it everyday, no life gets in the way sometimes.  Have I picked books that have epically flopped(Oliver Twist) and I would have to stop reading it and pick a new one, absolutely. We have made adjustments here and there but we gather we read. 

     These sweet moments filled with the spirit with my children all gathered around me as I read has been and will be one of the moments as a mother I will cherish in the deepest part of my soul forever!

Be Awesome,
Julia


 
  *by the way I am reading Willawaw by Tom Bodett to all of them and Julianna and I are reading Anne of Green Gables in preparation to attending the play shortly.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Foyer {before/after}


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After redoing the stairs, I impulsively redid the foyer, the very next day. Nope it is not a misprint, I know right me impulsively did something to my home but I did. I usually think it through, debate it for months, come up with a plan...this was completely different. I am usually very safe with my decorating, don't get me wrong I am an out of the box thinker but I consult pinterest, the web, magazines, other blogs and then combine those ideas into my own.  This time I went with my gut, what I love, what is me(I of course considered my hubs loves too).
 
Lets back ups a couple of years.  I decided I need to figure out what my style was.  This did not happen over night it was a couple of years in the making.  It first started when I read an article describing New Rustic which I will say does sum up my decorating style but not completely so I did some hands on research...
 
 I have always had a home budget but I juggled some numbers around taking from my personal clothes budget and added it to my home budget for a few months(yes so if you have seen me wearing the same clothes and they are looking a little worn out you know why) and then I started collecting.  If I saw something I loved I bought it.  Once I had a collection of about 10 items I realized I love color, fun and playful, and something unexpected. I loved these things but was I brave enough to incorporate them into my home...I didn't quite know.
 
Then I started following a couple of blogs Vintage Revivals and Makely School for Girls.  They are bold decorators and inspired me to not be like them but to be myself do what I love so to  Mandi and Lindsay   I say Thank You!!!
 
Here is my Foyer before...yep safe, unloved really....I just didn't love it so with the new stairs {which still make me smile} complete,  the space near the stairs need to make me smile too.  I actually have 2 foyers like spaces one straight ahead from the front door and one to the right of it.  I redid the foyer to the right when we first moved in so I we could be organized when school started. It is more utilitarian but still has pops of color and unexpected too. Back to the Foyer that is straight ahead from the front door..in its sad state of unhappiness and unfun.  Yep you have to feel so uplifted when you walk into your home and see a basket full of stuff to take car of....


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I first started by painting which makes the biggest impact.  I used the color Rich Navy by Glidden, I used that color on the stair risers and fell in love with it.  For some reason when you take a picture of it, it looks more true blue than navy but it is navy trust me and here are the after shots with some of the items I purchased in my discovering my style shops:
 

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I had this chalkboard cabinet I found at Hobby Lobby elsewhere in the house and decided to do a swap a roo with the table and it has found its new home.  The cabinet holds some of our favorite games in it and is in a perfect spot to grab a quick game to play before bed.  Next I grabbed some of my Ball canning jars which I have been collecting from antique stores and as my luck would have it a garage sale that was selling them for $2 a piece and added them to the top. 


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I had this rustic gold picture frame and framed one of our family pictures.  If you look closely this is not a posed picture, it is at a point where we were taking a break and letting the kids make silly faces and it is by far my favorite picture because it is just us being us!!! 

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The letter K I found at Marshalls, it is made out of pieced together scrap metal and when I saw it I knew my hubby would love it(he does by the way)


 
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I found this fabulous framed key at Marshalls as well as the large starburst mirror!  I love the mirror and key for their color, rusticiness and utility in the space.  How many times do we hunt down our keys?  Well this framed key has secret it holds out spare keys for emergency use ONLY(yes I am talking to a certain someone)!
 
Here is the wall in its almost completed state.  If you see to the left of the K there is a piece of paper taped to the wall..well we are waiting for a special order piece to arrive in the mail and I am super excited about it.  I also didn't address this larger than life tag and when I saw it I knew I needed it in my home. I stared at it for over 10 minutes and figured out exactly what I would need to buy to replicate it. Then I remembered that my time is important and spending the amount of time I would have needed to make this little gem of awesomeness in the end would not be worth the time away from my kiddos and so I spent the money.  In the end I probably spent $15 more dollars on it than I would have needed to get the supplies to make it and so I feel like it was a steal!!! It is hanging from a knob from the lovely ladies at Pick Your Plum...I love their grab boxes and I found that little treasure nestled in one of them.
 

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After the paint dried over night.  It took me about 1 hour to finish it!  It really just came together quickly, as I stood back admiring my work and as days went by and I was walking through it I realized it came together so easily because I loved it!  It was me on the wall staring back at me and I actually teared up like I am right now. 
 
I said it when I talked about the stairs.  Love it!!!  Truly love it, have it be you on the wall, floor, couch.  When you look at it is it representing you.  I promise you will never regret it.  You won't waste money on fads, whats in right now.  You also won't be wasting time either because you will love it and want to leave it that way, for awhile anyways!!!
 
Be Awesome,
 
Julia