Everyday Life, Parenting

Giant Balls of String – The Untidy Parenting Journey I’m On

If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you may remember that I write some posts about parenting now and then. You may have noticed that I write those posts far less often now than I used to. Something about having children older than, oh about three years old, can make a parent question why she ever thought she had much parenting wisdom. With my two older kids 9 and  almost 7, and my two younger ones throwing me for loops daily, I hardly ever find myself thinking, “Wow, I should share what I’m learning with the world at large.” For one thing, what I’m learning isn’t neat and Image result for balls of stringeasy to whip up into a tidy blog post. Parenting is beginning to seem like untangling a gigantic ball of string. You start at the beginning with varying emotions and you hit particularly tangled snags and you also go through some smoother parts. There was a clear beginning to this ball of string, but who knows where the end is or what it will look like, or even what kind of material we’re dealing with– I have wool and you have silk? Both? I don’t know. This analogy is getting weird. Either way, giant balls of tangled string don’t make for good blog posts with clear beginnings and neat conclusions. All I really know is as my kids get bigger, my wisdom gets smaller.

Most of us, when we find ourselves lacking wisdom, go looking for it. We skip out into the information age, sure we’ll find some ideas. A few minutes later, we run back and hide our heads under a pillow. So many opinions. So many serious, earnest voices. And so many do’s and don’ts.

“Make your bed everyday and you’ll be successful in life!”

“Don’t make your bed, that’s gross!”

“Throw everything out that doesn’t bring you joy and you’ll be freeeee!”

“Don’t throw that away! Repurpose it into an amazing entryway bench or life-changing crafting opportunity with your child!”

And whoever started the terribly trendy articles titled “5 Things You Should Never Say to Your Spouse” or “The 10 Worst Things You Can Say To Your Teen” should be well, not shot, but maybe sentenced to Antarctica to shovel snow for life. You can find convincing arguments for all sides of both important and trivial issues in books, online, in conversations with friends, in forums (ugh…we should all agree to just skip the forums…). And then, to smooth it all over like peanut butter on very, very lumpy bread, we have the phrase, “You do you.” Thanks. That fixes everything. I mean, at this point I don’t have time to think about who am I, much less how to do me. I’m too busy sorting through mixed reviews on sippy cups. I thought I was just going to jump online and buy a sippy cup, but which one? There’s this one… some people say it will change your life and some people say that it’s so defective it will ruin the interior of your mini-van and you’ll have to buy a whole new van, or maybe it will give your kids cancer. Am I the kind of person who buys a stainless steel sippy cup, anyway? How can there be this many STRONG opinions about a sippy cup?

If we’re reading all these reviews and searching for the right information to help us raise our families, we probably are living life with laser focus on getting things right. That’s a good thing…parenting is important…until we wake up one day and wonder if something might be missing. Something important, like light-heartedness. Something like freedom…you know, the freedom to not feel bad for rewarding your children with popsicles after they clean out the back of the SUV on a hot day, even though you read that viral article on why you shouldn’t use food as a reward. Or something like fun…why do I feel bad when I say “yes” to UNO instead of forcing that phonics card game on my 6-year-old? Games are supposed to be fun! In the grand scheme of things, it’s this all-important Something, the cheerfulness, freedom, and fun, that I know without even having to hear it from someone on the internet is what I want my children to look back and see in their time with me before they become adults themselves. I don’t know about you, but in the past two or three years of my parenting life, I’ve noticed that Something is missing.

This gradual realization that I’m losing cheerfulness, freedom, and fun as a mom in my earnest pursuit of parenting perfection is what has kept me from posting anything about parenting here lately. I don’t want to be one more voice that comes across like I’m telling parents how to do every little thing the right way. I am sick of those voices myself. And, like I said earlier, my parenting wisdom just keeps on shrinking. So I kept quiet until I thought maybe I could be a different kind of voice. In the meantime, I read your messages about this blog. Some of you lovely readers asked me if I would be posting again on parenting or homeschooling again. Those messages and in-person conversations surprised me so much! I’m truly grateful for them. I doubt I’ll ever again think I have tons of good ideas to share about parenting like I must have had when I started this blog with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old and no clue that I’d have two more children come along and ten thousand moments of doubtful parenting in my future. But if I can do one thing on this crazy internet, I would choose be a voice in a parenting movement of cheerfulness, freedom, and fun, in pursuit of connection and relationship with our children. I’ll get a million things wrong along the way, but I’m starting to understand that being okay with getting a few things wrong is the first step in parenting from a place of strength and lightheartedness, even as we parent with purpose.

And of course, there will be book reviews for you and your kids as a great season of summer reading approaches.

Thanks for reading!

 

Parenting, Picture Books, Reading

Jesse Bear – Our Favorite Books for Preschoolers

Things are pretty busy around here, and I have some great new releases to review for you soon, but I wanted to do a quick post about our current favorite books for the preschool picture book crowd. Check these out if you have little people in your life!

If Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is the show parents want their preschoolers watching, the Jesse Bear books are the books all parents should want their preschoolers reading. I didn’t know about these books when my oldest two were ages 2-4, but my three-year-old and I have recently fallen in love with them. Each book in the series follows a lovable little bear who is experiencing life and the world around him with a cheerful expression and an enthusiastic eagerness to learn. There’s an enjoyment in every day, normal life that’s contagious in these books.

Our favorite is Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? Jesse gets up and dressed and ready for his day, with rhyming words and pleasant illustrations that take readers through a day with Jesse until it’s time to get back into his pajamas. A close second favorite is Better Not Get Wet, Jesse Bear, which shows Jesse Bear bursting with longing to get wet as he goes through a summer day helping his mom and dad around the house until he finally gets to splash in his very own pool. In Guess Who’s Coming, Jesse Bear, the little bear learns to deal with an older cousin who he isn’t excited to spend time with at first, but soon learns big cousin Sarah isn’t so bad after all.

Every Jesse Bear book is perfectly illustrated by Bruce Degan (Jamberry) and will make you want to go hug a teddy bear and a toddler at the same time. There’s a Jesse Bear book about waiting for Christmas and one about counting, and several more we haven’t read it in this ten-book series.  I hope you and your little people enjoy the Jesse Bear books as much as we do! We’ll be grabbing a few more of these (and the new Fancy Nancy book!) the next time we go to the library.

Happy reading!

Everyday Life, Parenting

Best Valentine’s Day Gifts for Kids (That They’ll Use All Year Long!)

In two days, Valentine’s Day will be here! Did it sneak up on you like it did me? I mean, wasn’t it just Christmas? I love this holiday, but it sort of presents a conundrum. It feels like we don’t need one solitary extra item around here, but the front shelves at every store are stuffed with giant pink unicorns and candy hearts as big as your kid’s head. Those sorts of gifts can absolutely say, “I love you!” loud and clear, but they can also give you a big headache…”Where are we going to put this thing?” or “how can I sneak away half of this candy without them knowing?” So! If you need some last minute ideas for what to give the kids in your life this Valentine’s Day, grab something both thrilling to kids and useful to them, too! (Yes, it is possible, trust me). Here are some ideas to replace all the stuffed minions and candy:

  1. Baking kits – Put together a little cookie dough and some fun cookie cutters and Voila, everyone is excited. Throw in an apron and it’s a gift that can be kept for years. Bonus: aprons are an easy way to use up bigger scraps of fabric if you happen to be a crafty person with remnants hanging around your crafting closet. (Props to Aunt Destiny for this classic at our house!)
  2. Card games – Old Maid,  Go Fish, or for older kids, a fun travel sized game could be a great gift. My oldest daughter (8) really loves the game Authors.
  3. A special mug that’s kid-sized and a packet of hot chocolate – Can anything say I love you every time you use it more than a mug picked especially for you? 
  4. Sticker books – For kids 3 or 4 and up, a sticker book can be hours of entertainment that’s screen free and no mess!
  5. Temporary tatoos – This is what my kids will be getting this Valentine’s Day from me! The metallic ones are especially fun, but be prepared to scrub them off with some coconut oil because they will stick around for weeks (ask me how I know…).
  6. Cups with lids and straws – We call these our smoothie cups. I grabbed them on whim for Valentine’s Day last year and the kids use them several times a week still!
  7. Play-doh or modelling clay
  8. Bubble bath
  9. Books – Obviously. Try your very best to pick something the child you love will actually enjoy reading…maybe not a gushy Valentine’s book? Not saying they’re bad! Just…you know…get something kids like to read, k? ; ) [Check out our favorites in this category here and here].
  10. Pajamas – Okay, okay, this has a reputation as being the classic underwhelming gift, but actually, my kids love receiving new pajamas.
  11. Rainy day gear – rain boots, umbrellas, a poncho – all great fun for rainy days of late winter and early spring!
  12. An invitation – Kids love time spent together more than anything else. Make an invitation for your kids to go get ice cream, go to a movie, or whatever fun thing would be special for you and them. Easy and maybe the best gift in this whole list.

Okay, now hurry, Valentine’s Day is in two days! I hope it’s full of warmth and joy for you and your children (and throw in a little candy, too…).

 

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Children's Books, Parenting

Parenting Lessons from Amelia Bedelia

In my last post about great silly books to share with kids, I intentionally left out one of the most famous silly books of all time. We’ve actually been reading it and its companion books quite a lot. It’s full of hilarity, but I don’t read it as a silly book Image result for thank you, amelia bedeliaanymore. I read it as a parenting manual. What silly book could I possibly be referring to? Amelia Bedelia, of course! Peggy Parish’s famous character and all the books about her crack my children up. They still make me smile, too, but recently I had a revelation while reading them that makes me stop and take some parenting inventory while I read those fabulous books.

You know Amelia Bedelia, right? That silly maid who takes everything absolutely literally and does all the wrong things, but somehow knows how to bake delicious and complicated desserts like cream puffs and lemon meringue pie? (My six-year-old son is on to you, Amelia Bedelia). Last week as we were reading, Thank You, Amelia Bedelia, he asked, “How does she know how to bake so well, but she doesn’t know how to do anything else?” He was seriously perplexed. Without giving it much though, I answered, “Maybe someone taught her how to bake, but didn’t teach her anything else.” And man, the moment those words left my mouth it was like a bright flashlight shone right into my eyes. And it did, because my two-year-old was playing with one. But figuratively speaking, I had an “Oh!” thunder clap parenting moment. Amelia Bedelia is like every child in the history of the world! 

Why is this such a revelation for me? Well, my oldest two kids are eight and six now. They’re pretty big, right? I mean, they can do a lot of things. Pick stuff up, put stuff away, clean stuff…or at least, that’s what I think they should be able to do. At the onset of this summer, though, I found myself harboring a sustained frustration at them. The ancient Mom Complaints went through my head a million times a day. “This place is always a mess! Why can’t they put anything away? Do I have to do Image result for thank you, amelia bedeliaeverything around here? Why are there shoes on the coffee table?” (It’s ironic that we are the cause of these complaints in our early days here on earth and then we are the thinkers of those complaints later…sorry, Mom!). But then, I was reading about Amelia Bedelia scattering roses around the living room and stripping sheets (tearing them into strips, that is), and I thought, “Ha, that’s something my kids would do.” Ding, ding! That’s something your kids would do if you didn’t TEACH them how to do it the right way or explain what you meant!

What it comes down to is my son was onto something. Amelia Bedelia could do one thing well, because someone probably taught her how. Amelia Bedelia didn’t know how to do anything else at all, because no one ever taught her how to do it. Yes, yes, I know, most kids are born with twice as much common sense as Amelia Bedelia. But even though these books are just meant to be fun and silly, they changed this family’s summer. All of a sudden, I understood that I needed to see this summer break from homeschooling as a time to school the kids on how to live in a home. It was time for me to explain to them what I mean when I say, “Sort the laundry” and “clean up the living room.” It was time to settle in and give gentle (…mostly gentle) reminders throughout the day about putting shoes away and clearing the table after dinner so that these things that matter to us as parents become habits for the children in my home.

Image result for thank you, amelia bedeliaIt’s been about a month since I made this discovery, and I certainly still get frustrated, but at least we have some foundation for what the kids know we expect from them now. At least when I get frustrated that there’s dirt all over the floor, they understand why, because they just vacuumed that room themselves yesterday and now they have to do it again. I guess you can say reading Amelia Bedelia taught me that it’s completely fruitless to be frustrated with my children if I wasn’t taking the time to explain and train. Now, every time I read those books to the kids, I am reminded of that lesson and I ask myself how I’m doing at it.

Thanks for the parenting lesson, Amelia Bedelia.

More lessons from books on Mia The Reader:

Wisdom in Literature for Everyday Life

The Unquestioned Burdens

 

Everyday Life, Parenting

Slow Summer

Summer is so wonderful. We love to go to the beach, the mountains, the library, the zoo, the park. Summer energizes this family and makes us want to go, go, go. But this summer, everything (including my reading pace), has been slow. Here’s why:

Lydia is sweetheart, we can’t resist her and her kissable cheeks, but we also can’t predict her. Her only pattern at 3-months-old is a good morning nap, and the rest is anyone’s guess. Sometimes she naps four times a day, sometimes we can’t get her to sleep from noon til midnight and we think we must be the worst parents in the world. Whoever says fourth babies just roll with it and are totally laid back…well, they haven’t met Lydia. Some days she’s completely blissful, some days she cries her head off. She’s not colicky but she’s not the classic happy baby. She’s just Lydia. And we love her.

Spending so much time trying to soothe a baby or catch up on all you haven’t been able to do while trying to soothe a baby (hello, dishes from yesterday) makes the summer surprisingly slow. The blessing in it is we don’t get tempted to dash off to a hundred parks and play dates. I pace and hold Lydia and listen to Ella, Isaac, and Violet play with cars, with Legos, and everything between. There are forts of sheets and chairs in the living room, there are paper crowns taped onto baby dolls’ heads, there are chores actually being done, there is an eight-year-old with a book on the couch on a rainy summer’s day….there are all sorts of beautiful, everyday things to soak in when you’re just holding a baby, and all kinds of opportunities for kids to just be and play and learn with no rush and hurry.

Would I like Lydia to have a more predictable schedule and to be happy all the time? Yes. Absolutely. But she is as unpredictable as she is cute (very). She’s a gift and she is unintentionally giving us the gift of a slow summer. I look forward to adventures with big kids, day trips to the beach and the mountains, a meal out without a meltdown, but for now…I’ll take the slow summer.

Whether your summer is full of slow days in the sun or jam packed with on-the-go fun, I hope you’re enjoying it fully and soaking it up.

Happy Summer!

Photos by Wenzel Photography (in a very casual, short photo shoot in the middle of a playdate! Aunts are awesome).

Children's Books, Parenting, Reading, Reviews

Awesome Chapter Books for Young Children

We are hitting the short chapter books hard around here lately! It’s sometimes tricky to find chapter books suitable for very young children, but these I’m sharing today are perfect. I quite enjoyed them, too. If you’re looking for some quality literature to draw young children into chapter books, this list is for you.

 

I read Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry  to both Ella (7) and Isaac (5) and they loved it. Violet (2.5) also listened and laughed with us. I don’t know why I’ve never heard of this book before now? It is perfect for 4-7-year-olds. Gooney Bird Greene is an accomplished story teller, and her whole second-grade class, including the teacher, is enamored by her true stories. This book would pair wonderfully with a story-telling unit study if you’re a homeschooler. Or just read it for fun! Because it is seriously fun. It’s the first in a series of five books, and I just discovered the whole series is on CD at my library. Score! I plan to check that out and give my kids lots of fun listening time during the long, hot afternoons this summer.

I tried to read Pippi Longstocking to Ella when she was five and it was a major flop. I pulled it out again last month, though, and this time it has been a big hit with her and Isaac. Maybe Ella wasn’t ready for the absurdity of Pippi when she was younger (Ella’s a very literal person), but now the zaniness of this story completely entertains us all (yes, even Violet announced, “I love Pippi!” yesterday). I love all things Astrid Lindgren, so I can’t wait to read the next Pippi book!

Princess Cora and the Crocodile is a purely fun and silly chapter book we all enjoyed at bedtime last week. Though it has chapters, it’s truly just a long picture book, with illustrations on every page. Princess Cora is a little girl whose princessly life is extremely dull, until her fairy godmother sends her a pet crocodile who hilariously sets everything right. I’m guessing even reluctant chapter book readers/listeners will enjoy this book.

These next two books on our list are a bit more serious, but still great for young children. Isaac particularly liked The King’s Equal, a short fairy tale by Katherine Paterson about a haughty prince who can’t be crowned until he finds a wife who is his equal in every way. In six short chapters, kids (and grown ups) consider themes such as wisdom, kindness, industriousness, true beauty, and friendship. I’m so glad a good friend lent me this book!

The Light at Tern Rock is another tiny book with big themes we recently finished. It’s about a young boy named Ronnie and his aunt who agree to fill in for the lighthouse keeper for a few weeks right before Christmas. The days keep stretching on and the main characters have to learn to make the best with what they have, and to be gracious to those who treat them unfairly. It was so good, a great read for kids six and up.

I hope you find some gems for your family in this list! I’m on the hunt for more as we approach summer reading time. Eee! I love summer reading…

Happy reading!

 

Everyday Life, Parenting

There’s Ovaltine in My Pantry

There’s Ovaltine in my kitchen cabinet. That can only mean one thing. It means I’m waking up like this:

Ovaltine: Wake up PERKY in the Morning! ~ My husband definitely wants me to switch to Ovaltine if I can look and feel this great in the mornings!:

And this!

Sexy Ovaltine Original 1946 Vintage Print Ad w/ by VintageAdarama:

(That image actually scares me a little bit).

Or! It could mean one other thing. I’m pregnant. Twenty-four weeks pregnant, in fact, with our fourth child. We are thrilled! But you know what I’m discovering? When you’re pregnant with your second and especially your third or fourth (or beyond, I’m guessing), all those tips in the pregnancy books about how to take care of yourself just sound like mean jokes.

“Get plenty of sleep.”

“Exercise daily.”

“Eat lots of leafy vegetables that you have to wash and chop and then somehow keep down through nausea in the beginning and heartburn for the rest of the pregnancy, all while refereeing toddlers and preschoolers.”

Thanks for those tips, thanks a lot.

Image result for vivien leighYou want a really useful tip for your fourth pregnancy? Ovaltine. Okay, so yes, these ads probably aren’t founded on very scientific data and could be at fault for false advertising. I’m guessing “false advertisement” wasn’t a thing in 1950. But even though I still wake up looking like a druggy instead of Vivien Leigh, when I am pregnant, Ovaltine becomes a staple in our pantry. I drink it about every other night because, believe it or not, it cures my restless leg syndrome that only flares up when I’m pregnant. It really does. Maybe I’m actually treating myself with the proverbial sugar water, but if tastes like chocolate and has calcium in it? I don’t really mind that I’m psyching myself out.

So, while Ovaltine isn’t giving me one red cent for saying this, Ovaltine is my only true pregnancy tip for the world in a fourth pregnancy. Oh, and maybe some water with lemon. But Ovaltine tastes way better.

Parenting

I’m Living A Fairy Tale (And It’s Not Sleeping Beauty)

IMG_6256No one told me The Frog Prince was actually about motherhood. It turns out, it pretty much sums up my life right now.

Dear mothers, this is what a true fairy tale life is like.

 

They will eat off your plate.

IMG_6255

They will sleep on your pillow.

IMG_6124

Then they even drive our cars.

IMG_5667

Luckily, these babes are much cuter than even the cutest frogs. And when you kiss them, they don’t transform into grown princes or princesses right away. It takes a little while, and thank goodness for that. We’ll get our pillows back someday, but not too soon, please not too soon.

Babeinarms

Everyday Life, Parenting

Babies And Technology – My Favorite Blogs and Podcasts

Every time I have added a baby to my life, I have also added a new technology to save my sanity. You may be thinking of baby monitors or food grinders, which are good for maintaining sanity in our work loads, but there’s another kind of sanity that needs maintaining underneath all the ins and outs of caring 24/7 for a baby. I’m talking about brains here, folks. There is nothing I hate more than the term “mommy brain” (okay, yes there is, things like terrorism I hate more, but let’s go with it as a figure of speech). Sure, moms have a lot to think about and keep track of, but the idea that we get dumber as we have children is so insulting and wrong and we actually embrace it is an idea. Why do we do that to ourselves? Granted, we do have to face the fact that lots of mothering, especially with newborns, is monotonous. I think that’s why I felt a need for something to change up my routine and add a way for my brain to be active while also nurturing the new life I was responsible for.  Maybe that’s why every time I added a baby, I found myself adding a new technology, as well.

Blogs

With my first child, I discovered the blog world. People were writing blogs about everything and I never knew it before 2009! My favorite blogs at the time were ones that made me laugh or that were sympathetic to the new mother plight. Here are the ones that are still my favorites:

Memories on Clover Lane – I respect this blogger’s opinions on raising children so much! And we have similar tastes in books…

Modern Mrs. Darcy – Anne is a way more sophisticated book blogger than I’ll ever be!

Wenzel Photography – I love her photos. Especially since sometimes my kids show up in them, and almost always my nieces and nephews. #familyperks

Shauna Niequist – Her writing is so vivid and convincing, she makes me imagine I could actually be a “foodie” or “a creative” or all kinds of other crazy things that I’m not. =) No, I’ll never be a foodie, but one of her books really changed my perspective on life.

The Big Mama Blog – I find I have less and less in common with her, but she still makes me laugh.

E-Books

When my second-born was a few weeks old, we moved what felt like a long way away from any library. It was a temporary move, but I still thought it was pretty thoughtful that my husband decided it would be a good time for me to get an e-reader. He presented me with a Nook, and I honestly thought “He doesn’t even know me. I am a BOOK lover! How can he think I’d like one of these things?” But oh, how well he really does know me. Because suddenly, with a few clicks, I had a new book at my finger tips.. I didn’t have to drive 45 minutes to the library and I didn’t have to take my little children anywhere! What’s more, I could hold that book in one hand while holding a baby in the other, and I could read it in the dark, all night long if need be! Yes, yes, I still prefer paper books, but I am a fan of the e-reader. I now use a Kindle because the books are usually a bit more affordable and it’s easier to borrow books through my library’s website.

Podcasts

The birth of my third child found me in way over my head. I had a five-year-old who was a wonderful big sister, very thoughtful and good at taking care of others. She was also precocious, and her highest love language has always been quality time, so it’s easy for me to feel like I can’t give her the attention her intellect and heart need from me. Then there was my then three-year-old, a delightful boy and brimming over with raw, unending energy. I had no idea to harness it into anything good in his life. And then there was this baby who was so different than my other two. She cried. A lot. I needed help. I needed constant wisdom drumming into my head. By chance one day, I saw a friend post on Facebook that she loved to listen to podcasts while she went on walks. I checked out a few she recommended, and I kid you not when I say they have been a game changer in my mothering. The perspective they offer on all kinds of issues is invaluable. I realize that the podcast genre is wide and there are all kinds of topics – I’ve even listened to some of them – but what I come back to in this stage of my life are these blogs that speak to the struggles and joys of life in the trenches as a mom:

God Centered Mom – Heather is raising four boys and the questions she asks her guests are exactly the kind of questions I have in my mothering journey.

Inspired to Action – Kat is full of practical wisdom and so are her guests

Read Aloud Revival – This podcast centers on the topic of reading aloud to your kids – what to read, when to read, how it looks in different families…it’s just a fun book gab, really.

Sally Clarkson – Sally Clarkson is the mentor I don’t personally know. I love her book Mission of Motherhood and her podcast reminds me of the big picture and the ultimate goals I have for my children.

I don’t know where I’m going to turn for brain food if we add another child. Video games? Netflix? Just kidding. Still, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I was looking for brain food each time I was in the very demanding but very basic phase of newborn mothering. Mothers need brain food! We are not dummies! [Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now]. I’d love to know if any moms out there felt similar needs when they’re babies were little. And I’d love to know if you have any favorite podcasts or blogs I should check out!

Children's Books, Friday Favorites - Children's Books, Parenting, Three Book Thursday

Cookies and Books: Nurturing Yourself and Your Children At The Same Time

girlreadingjwsmithAfternoons are hard. Everyone is tired, and trying their best to transition from morning to evening, from resting to ramping up their energy again, or in my case, from folding clothes quietly to cooking dinner with three kids underfoot. I’ll be honest: some (many) days when the kids get up from their afternoon quiet time, they get to watch TV. I try to keep it to every other day, but it’s kind of a seasonal thing. In the summer it’s less, in the winter, it’s more. But some days, the attitudes are especially shoddy, making me more aware of my children’s need for time with me. And I feel that tug: how do I give these children anything when at this point in the day, I’m running on empty?

The answer? Cookies and books.

One of my favorite book mom mentors, Sally Clarkson, often says it’s important to bring your children into the activities that you enjoy and that feed your soul. I love that concept – we as moms can be nurtured and nurturing at the same time.  Sometimes I remember that, and sometimes I have the wisdom and energy to do things a little differently in the transition hours, more commonly (and accurately) called “the witching hours.” I lay out some real plates and glasses on the table, get some cookies from the freezer and stick them in the microwave (or graham crackers if the baking hasn’t happened in a while!), and pour milk in fancy glasses. Then I go to the kids’ room a few minutes before their quiet time timer dings, and whisper, “Come to the kitchen!” Sometimes we have a IMG_4547little bit of hot herbal tea with honey instead of milk and cookies. Sometimes we’re finishing up some lemonade or cake from a family birthday party. Whatever the food is, along with it is always a book. This time is for a book I choose that I know will feed their minds. Their small hands are busy with their cookies, but their minds are taking it all in. When we come together at the table, all of the bickering, busyness, and mess of the day is suspended for a few minutes. I love these times at the table. They bring the things I like doing – reading books, eating cookies, and spending happy time with my children – all together. We all get what we need, and it’s always worth the few extra dishes or the lost productivity because the children feel loved and cared for and able to cope with the rest of the day, and so do I. I wish I did this cookies and books time every day! That’s not a reality right now. But I cherish the times when we’re able to set everything else aside and pick up a book, a cup, a story, an idea, a love of learning, and a love for each other.

Not everyone likes books and cookies (okay, everyone probably likes cookies). Maybe you love to run. Maybe you like scrapbooking, cooking, walking, or maybe what you love above all else is window shopping. My kids and I sometimes make up silly stories together. Whatever it is you like to do, maybe try doing it with your children? It gets really hard to do the things you love as your children take more of your time, but it helps you all to speak the same language later in life if you share what you love now. Your favorite activity won’t be the same when you bring your children into it with you, but it will be better than nothing! Choose your Cookies and Books – whatever you like to do together- and make it happen once in a while! You’ll be glad you did.

Here are the books I’ve chosen for our Cookies and Books Time this week:

Rachel and Obadiah – We loved Obadiah the Bold, so we had to track down other books by Brinton Turkle about Obadiah. However, this one was more about Rachel. Where Obadiah was great for a little brother, Rachel and Obadiah is great for a little sister who feels the need for some appreciation. The illustrations are so lovely, and it’s fun to read the Quaker wording. Isaac was not as big a fan of it because the girl is the winner in the end, but Ella liked it a lot.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald PartridgeWilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge – Mem Fox is an famous children’s author with whom I am sadly unfamiliar. I enjoyed my first experience of her books this week! This book made me want to cry a little, because my kids have a great, great aunt who is exactly the age of the woman in the book. Wilfrid, the little boy, thoughtfully gathers all the things he thinks will help her find her memories again, and the result is very touching. That was my take on it, anyway! When I got done reading it to Isaac and Ella, Ella’s response was, “Well. That was a weird book.” So maybe don’t expect your kids to love it. But it’s a sweet book that could aid in discussion about elderly family members whose memories aren’t what they used to be. The illustrations by Julie Vivas keep things lighthearted and fun.

What books are you reading with kiddos this week?