Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Staying In...

Being sick means staying in.....

Doing puzzles.....

Especially fun puzzles that may feature a very hungry caterpillar....

A bright happy sun and a very beautiful butterfly....

Tonight we spent about half an hour putting together and taking apart this puzzle. I found this puzzle at the thrift store for .99 cents. I just love it when I find things like this. Since my son is still sick, and now daddy is sick, we have been staying indoors and very close to home.

Before I got sick, I did make a trip to the library, here are a few of our favorite reads:

I totally loved Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop.The illustrations are lovely, and any book about a girl in a forest wishing to talk to the moon, in my opinion is wonderful. 

Dangerously Ever After by Dashka Slater was amazing. This book is not to be missed, it is not your typical princess book. The princess in this book has a pet scorpion, a brakeless bicycle and a collection of daggers and broken glass. She's daring and keeps the most dangerous garden in the world which is filled with prickles, stickles, brambles and nettles. 

The Village Garage by G. Brian Karas, was definitely my sons favorite. It is a book about the seasons featuring the busy workers from the village garage. No matter the season, the workers get the job done with help from their trusty trucks and their reliable tools. I have probably read this book twenty times in the last week.

I hope everyone stays warm and well. Until next time....Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rainy Day


I have been deathly sick with the flu, and now it appears my little guy has it. So just want to leave you with a few pictures I took this evening. Hope everyone stays well. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thoughts on Reading Chapter Books to My Three Year Old

We started reading Jenny And The Cat Club by Esther Averill last night. My son was entranced, especially since Pickles the fire cat appears in some of the stories with Jenny Linsky. (By the way, he loves Pickles the fire cat. You can read more about Pickles in The Fire Cat by Esther Averill)

Every time I told him it was time for bed, he begged for me to read more. Until, next thing I knew, we were on page ninety four, and it was eleven o'clock at night. He wanted more, but it was very late, and we had to be up all the earlier this morning due to an early morning meeting at work. 

My son just turned three last month, and I am reading chapter books to him. Am I being a pushy mother? I don't know, maybe, but he loves them. He begs for them, he loves Jack and Annie from The Magic Tree House series. He now loves Jenny Linsky and Mercy Watson. (He wants buttered toast with every meal, just like Mercy Watson.) 

I tried reading his first chapter book to him when he was about two and a half. I was able to gauge his comprehension by asking him questions about what was happening in the story as we read along. I still ask him questions, and know that he is retaining what I read to him, because I will ask him things about the book
the next day. He usually remembers, bits and pieces of the story, and what he can't recall, he tells me he can't remember, and he asks me to tell him what happened. 

I have been reading to him since before he was born. I think this is the reason why we are now reading chapter books at three. I gave him a good foundation because when he was a baby, we logged hours and hours reading books like Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, tons of vintage Little Golden Books, fairy tales, Peter Pan, and Beatrix Potter's The Compete Tales. We also frequented the library, so he was also read countless picture books.

We never sat our son in front of the television as a baby. (He does watch it now, but if you can keep your child from watching, please do. It is a very addictive habit, that I think causes behavioral issues. This is something my other half and I disagree about, but that is another post for another day.) When he was with me he was in my Moby Wrap, or when I couldn't carry him for safety purposes, such as while I was cooking or doing laundry, he was in his bouncy chair. I always placed him where he could see me, and would explain to him what I was doing. 

As he got older and started toddling around, we still read the picture books, the Little Golden books, and the age appropriate baby books because he didn't want to sit still for longer books. He was ready to explore the physical world around him. I still always offered to read him a story, because by this time, he was able to tell me if he wanted to be read to or not. Most of the time, but not always, he wanted still wanted to be read to.

I never force my son to sit for a story, it's always his choice. I think that is what makes our reading aloud time so precious, it is not forced, which means we both enjoy it so much. 

I went back to work full time when my son was twelve weeks old, the only quality time I was able to spend with him is at night and on the weekends. Raising a child is hard work, the most important job in the world. Reading aloud is a sacrifice on my part. It takes up a lot of my free time, but building a strong family unit is more important to me than anything. Reading aloud to my child is one of the most important things I will ever do in my life. It is building a bond that I hope will last a lifetime. 

So if you are a new parent and asking the question, when should I start reading aloud to my child? The answer is right now! If your child is older and has never been read to, don't think it is too late, start small. Take them to the library, let them pick out a few books. Turn it into an adventure. Then sit down with your child, get cozy and read to them. Trust me, it will be the one of the best decisions you will ever make.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

First Movie....Oh, and a book about trains...

We took our son to see his first movie at the Arizona Science Center this weekend. It wasn't a Disney movie, or the latest and greatest children's flick, it was a documentary about trains. He absolutely loved it. It is an IMAX Stephen Low film called Rocky Mountain Express. It is a film documenting the history of the building of the transcontinental railway through the Canadian Rockies. It is a train ride, interlaced with historical information and photographs about the route and the building of the railroad line.

Since my son loves trains, and he will tell you that they are his favorite, he sat mesmerized through the forty five minute film. The cinematography was stunning, and the history was fascinating. I do not have a college degree in education, but I will tell you that I think it is important to teach our children history. My son is only three, but I like to find books about history to read aloud to him.

Verla Kay's Iron Horses is just the book. It is a book told in rhyme with bold pictures done by Michael McCurdy that visually tells the story beyond the poetic words. 

"Piercing whistles,
Shrieking wheels.
Hot steam hissing, 
High-pitched squeals.

Huffing, puffing,
Smoking stacks.
Screeching, stopping, 
End of tracks."

Let me tell you, this book is a great conversation starter, as we have had many very interesting conversations stemming from this book. (It is one of my sons favorites.) I love that through reading aloud, I can introduce my son to history at a very young age. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Alice and Martin Provensen's A Book of Seasons

Winter is here and we are under a freeze warning until Tuesday. I think the high got up to fifty one degrees today. For Phoenix, this is cold. We are also feeling under the weather, so we didn't venture far from home today.

I have a love (and weakness) for vintage children's books. I collect them for my son, as well as for myself. I love finding books that I had when I was young, because opening the cover of that book, is like stepping back into time for me. I love sharing these gems with my son, even if I didn't read them when I was young.

Some books are complex, and some are just simple, but no less eloquent.

Alice and Martin Provensen's A Book of Seasons is one such book. Originally published in 1976 by Random House, it is a simple book about the changing of the seasons.

Alice and Martin Provensen. New York: Random House, Copyright 1976
A look into a time when most all children spent their time outside. Playing, exploring nature, spending time with children from next door, or down the street, or across the creek.

Alice and Martin Provensen. New York: Random House, Copyright 1976
 "Winter is here. Put on your boots. Find your mittens. You can build a snowman."

Alice and Martin Provensen. New York: Random House, Copyright 1976
 "You can ride downhill on sleds when snow is on the ground. But look!...What is happening?"

Alice and Martin Provensen. New York: Random House, Copyright 1976

"It's maple-syrup time. It's the first day of spring."

Alice and Martin Provensen. New York: Random House, Copyright 1976

Alice and Martin Provensen. New York: Random House, Copyright 1976
 "Spring can be rainy."

Alice and Martin Provensen. New York: Random House, Copyright 1976

Alice and Martin Provensen. New York: Random House, Copyright 1976
"Now you can be out of doors all day long."

Alice and Martin Provensen. New York: Random House, Copyright 1976

Alice and Martin Provensen. New York: Random House, Copyright 1976

Alice and Martin Provensen. New York: Random House, Copyright 1976
 I love how in just a few sentences, and beautiful but simple drawings, the Provensen's are able to explain the cycle of the seasons. My son loves this book, and never turns it down when I offer to read it to him.

This book reminds me of a simpler time, the time of my own childhood. Where we drank from the hose, played outside all day during the summer, even though it was hot. Ran around barefoot, spent hours on end at the farm, coming home extremely dirty, but happy and ready to go back the next day. We made mud pies, put on plays, and had our own carnivals. We made up games, and played and played and played, with no agenda.
This is the childhood I want for my son. A simple and delightful childhood. One filled with discovery, nature, play, imagination, and thousands, and thousands of stories.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Quotes To Remember

So the holidays are officially over, and life is getting back to normal around here. I got a call about three o'clock yesterday afternoon to go and pick up my son from school, because he was running a temperature. So, needless to say, I was at home with him all day. I've got a million post running through my head, with lots of brilliant books to share, but I am going to keep it simple tonight.
I wanted to document for prosperity purposes a few quotes that I don't want to forget from my son's second year of life.
  • We are at the grocery store, and I am putting the groceries on the conveyor belt. All the sudden my son yells (loud) out of nowhere, "Mommy quick, grab onto my rescue rope." I turn to look, and he is throwing me the shopping carts seat belt strap. (By this time, he was able to unhook it himself.) Then he yells, "I have to save you from the crocodiles."
  •  We were getting ready to go to the store, so I popped into the bathroom. Daddy asks, "Where are you? Are you ready to go?" I answer back, "Give me a second, I am in the bathroom." I hear my son exclaim in a very worried voice, "Daddy, mommy is invisible." Hmmm, indeed. 

  • Right before Halloween, I was getting ready for work, and getting my son ready for school. One of the things I try to do is read my son a few stories before work. We had just finished reading Mercer Mayer's The Bravest Knight when my son looks at me and says, "Mommy, I have to make me an armour to protect me from scary children."
  • We were driving home after a day of adventuring up north, when my son says, "Mommy, look at that cloud in the sky." So I look and there is a huge cloud in the western sky. I asked him what it looked like. He is silent for a minute, then says, "It looks like a big lizard." I look at the cloud, and tell him that it does look like a big lizard. Then he says, "No mommy, it's a chameleon."
  • A few months back, I ask my son what he wants for Christmas. He says, "Mommy, I want toy trains and train tracks." I tell him he has to ask Santa, and that if he is a good boy, then maybe he will get trains for Christmas. He looks at me, then shouts with all his might, "SANTA, I WANT TOY TRAINS FOR CHRISTMAS."
Kids say the funniest things.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Family Time...

Just a real quick post tonight. We have been spending as much time as we can with my grandfather who flies back to Arkansas Wednesday morning. I have really enjoyed his visit, but I am looking forward to life getting back to normal.

Thanks to Read Aloud Dad, we have discovered the Mercy Watson books and been devouring them like buttered toast. I stumbled upon them at the library on my way home from work on Friday night, and have read, and re-read the first three in the series. We will probably read a new one tonight. My son thinks Mercy is a hoot when she says "oink". Who knew that pigs could be so hilarious?

So to my five or so readers, thanks for reading and commenting, and know that as long as I don't catch the dreaded flu that everyone else is getting, I will be back in this space later this week. Until then, have a wonderful day and happy reading!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Reason to Read Aloud #7

I love the library, my son loves the library. His father, not so much. We love him dearly, but he is not a book person. Which means (gasp!) he is not a library junkie.... Which means that getting him to take us to the library is like a form of torture for him. (Heaven forbid I ask him to take me to the book store, you would think I was asking him to commit espionage.) He is a get in, get what you need, and get out type of guy. I could spend hours and hours browsing books, which literally drives him crazy. (I promise, I do have a point here.)

So anyway, the other day I ask him to take us to the library after running a few errands.... (If looks could kill, I would have been dead, really.) So then our son pipes up from the back about wanting to go too. (I get that look again.) So with a really heavy sigh, he heads our car towards the library.

So I know what you are thinking, he has softened his heart about the library, right? We will be able to browse for hours, looking for the most wonderful and perfect books, right? WRONG! I have exactly ten minutes to browse for my son and myself. I go into super fast mode, find a book for myself, then head to the childrens' section where I scan thousands of books in about five minutes.

That day I was able to bring home fifteen picture books. (I can only say "just one more minute sweetie" to his overly gruff and annoyed "Are you ready to go?" question so many times.)

One of the books I grabbed that day was Opera Cat by Tess Weaver. I am so glad I got this book. We read it for the first time tonight. At first, I thought my son wouldn't like it, and I almost didn't read it to him, but I am so glad I did! It is a story about an opera singer and her cat who has a secret talent. One day the opera singer gets laryngitis, and finds out that her cat can sing as beautifully as she can.

After reading the story twice (my son requested a second read)...My son asked me what the opera was, so I found a music station on my phone, and next thing I knew, we were dancing to opera in the middle of our living room. It was so grand. (My son will dance to anything, I promise you, even opera.)

So, in conclusion, reading Opera Cat to your children might lead to spending your evening dancing to opera in the middle of your living room. (I can't think of a better way to spend my evening, can you?)

P.S. My other half is not an ogre, I promise. He has no problem with us venturing to the library by ourselves, it's just not his thing. He says that he can find anything he wants to read online.