Posts tagged ‘kids’

October 9, 2014

remember when you played TELEPHONE?

by Wendy Lawrence

It starts with a mother bird who says “Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner.” But the youngest only remembers “Tell Peter: Hit pop flies and homers.” That changes to “Tell Peter: Prop planes are for fliers.”

telephoneTitle: Telephone
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jen Corace
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 0 – 7

The game of telephone, played by birds on a telephone wire, appropriately enough, gets out of hand at one point:

Tell Peter: There’s a giant monster lobster named Homer! He smells like socks and he breathes red fire! His eyes blaze like stars and he rides a crocodile that flies and he’s coming to this wire! Tell Peter to fly! Fly far far away! He’s too young to be somebody’s dinner!

Then there is one of those beautifully brilliant pages with no words. Where an older owl gives this latest message the kind of look that parents sometimes give the younger set. And he turns and says “Hey, Peter.” Which is another of my favorite pages. I love that it slows down a little. Then he straightens his glasses and says “You mom says fly home for dinner.”

🙂 Which made me love the book. Because really, as parents, doesn’t that just sum up the whole job? Yes, it’s nice to have fun with the kids, but sometimes, when dinner is on the table and the craziness is out of hand, it’s up to us to cut out the monsters and the crocodiles and boil everything down to the main point.

That and the illustrations. Which are gorgeous.

July 2, 2013

Minding your own business


Angela Verges

Today’s post comes from Angela Verges, one of our new writers who you’ll be hearing from on the first Tuesday of each month. I’m so excited to have her on board, and I love what she’s talking about here, as well as the book she recommends (which, I just learned while researching it a bit, is written by the nephew of the original author. I think that’s cool!)

Angela Verges is a writer and mom of two teen boys who inspire her daily (even when they don’t know it). She is the author of a forthcoming picture book, Abby and Zach Pray through the Alphabet. You can find her blogging through the corridors of parenting at Visit her website at or follow her on twitter @AngelaVerges.

Minding your own business and making money

The kids have only been on summer break a short while, yet they are already asking, “What can we do today?”

“Mind your own business,” I responded.

My boys, Donovan and Joshua, looked at me with astonishment and confusion on their faces, “What?”

I proceeded to explain to them about a class once offered at our local recreation department called, Mind your business. It was a class that taught youth the basics of starting and operating their own business venture. The boys were hooked at that point, the thought of earning money for something that they wanted to buy intrigued them.

Although the boys did not have an opportunity to participate in the class, they still liked the idea of starting their own business. Putting on their thinking caps, they came up with idea after idea, then reasons why a particular idea wouldn’t work.

There was the idea of walking dogs as a business, but Donovan remembered a past dog episode. “Don’t you remember the time Norma brought her puppy for a visit and you ran as far as you could from it?”

“Oh yeah, scratch dog walking from the list,” Joshua responded.

As the boys were deep in thought, I remembered a book I came across recently. It was one of my favorite characters, Amelia Bedelia. The book was titled, Amelia Bedelia Means Business by Herman Parish. It features a younger Amelia Bedelia who wants to earn money to buy a new bike.

ameliabedeliameansbusinessTitle: Amelia Bedelia Means Business
Author: Herman Parish
Illustrator: Lynne Avril
Genre: Early Reader, Fiction
Age: Early Elementary

At her father’s suggestion, Amelia Bedelia started a lemonade stand business. True to her character, Amelia has a quirky response to her dad’s suggestion. When her dad tells her she can run a stand, Amelia wants to know if she should “run” or “stand.” Mixing the literal and figurative, Amelia’s adventures continue along this vein.

The book has a suggested reading age of 6-10 years and my boys are a little older than this. However, they like the idea of starting a lemonade stand and have agreed to take a look at how Amelia Bedelia does it, quirks and all. My only question now is can Donovan and Joshua go into business together without becoming too competitive.

lemonadewarTitle: The Lemonade War
Author: Jacqueline Davies
Genre: Fiction
Age: Elementary

As I thought about the challenges Donovan and Joshua could face (with each other) as business partners, I came up with another book for them to read. I don’t think the boys know it yet, but it can be dangerous when I start thinking. The additional book I spotted for them to read is The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies.

In the book, Jessie makes a bet with her brother Evan to see who could earn a hundred dollars first. Evan is good at talking to people and Jessie is good at math. So the lemonade war begins, and so does summer reading for my boys.

If your child is interested in starting a lemonade business here are a couple of helpful websites to check out. This site tells how to create an easy to assemble lemonade stand and includes templates,,,20210158,00.html. Another site lays out a “Kids Lemonade Stand Business Program” that gives the ABC’s of business for kids,

The next time your child asks what he or she can do for fun, you can tell them, “mind your own business.” Then show them how to do just that, while earning money.

Has your child ever operated a lemonade stand or other business? What tips would you share?

March 18, 2013

What’s Spring?

There’s no better way to get kids interacting with reading than by writing their own stories. For little kids, you can have them tell you a story and you can write it down. Give them a prompt, or choose a favorite book and have then write a sequel. Or choose a favorite character and have them write another story with that character.

Older kids might like to rewrite a favorite story from the point of view of a more minor character, inventing things that happen to that character when they are “off camera”, or not on the page of the actual book.

To get my creative juices going, I’m responding today to a writing prompt on the awesome Susanna Hill’s blog. The challenge was to write a story about Spring in 350 words or less that ends with a specific line. Here’s my attempt. (349 words!*)


Little Fox’s Springs

Little Fox was almost one year old.

LIttle Fox remembered summer. He played in the sun and swam in the brook.

Little Fox remembered fall. He hid in the leaves and ran with the wind.

Little Fox remembered winter. He cuddled with his mama and tunneled in the snow.

But he didn’t remember spring. It was so long ago!

“What’s spring?” he asked his mama.

“Spring is when you were born,” said his mama.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.

Little Fox tiptoed out of his den. He found Jackrabbit.

“What’s spring?” he asked Jackrabbit.

“A spring is a bounce!” said Jackrabbit. “Here, I’ll show you.” And Jackrabbit sprung around the meadow and back to Little Fox.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.

Little Fox now had a spring in his step. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He found Raven.

“What’s spring?” he asked Raven.

“A spring is a coil that wiggles and jiggles. Here, I’ll show you.” And Raven flew to his nest, rifled through twigs and toys and carried a spring back to Little Fox.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.

Little Fox now had a spring in his step and a new toy spring in his paw. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He saw Moose.

“What’s spring?” he asked Moose.

“A spring is delicious!” said Moose. “Here, I’ll show you.” And Moose trod to a small hole in the moss where clear water was bubbling. Little Fox took a drink.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox, licking his lips.

Little Fox now had a spring in his step and a toy spring in his paw and some fresh spring water in his tummy. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He saw Deer.

“What’s spring?” he asked Deer.

But Deer couldn’t talk. She was busy with two very tiny, very spotted fawns.

Little Fox remembered what his mama had said. He was born in the spring. The fawn gave Little Fox a slobbery kiss.

Little Fox knew spring was here at last.


Now you write your story!

*Note to contest judges: I don’t have a Word Processor on my new(!) computer yet, so I entered this into seven (7!) different online word counters. 349 was the number that came up most often (3 times). 3 counters got a lower number and 1 got a higher number, so it seemed safe to assume I’m within the legal limit!

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February 9, 2012

Meet my family

Everyone else has WAY cooler blog names for their family than I do. Ironic Mom Leanne Shirtliffe calls her twins Thing 1 and Thing 2. Kathryn Apel, children’s writer and author of This is the Mud, interviews a young writer named Squashed Cupcake. And Chase McFadden blogs at Some Species Eat Their Young while referring to his four children as Slim, Perpetual Motion, The Hellcat, and Tax Break #4.

After a lot of brainstorming with my husband, I’d like to introduce my family. Although it’s only fair to note that my husband did NOT agree to his own nickname. Tough luck on that one.

Middle School Crush: My husband, whom I met in seventh grade, likes to fuel my enthusiasm for my own writing with comments such as “what was your book about again?” And a personal favorite, said not too long ago as I was plotting out my chapters on sticky notes all over the walls, “Is that really helpful, or is it like rearranging deck chairs?”

The Wizard of Why: My 3-year-old makes me realize how much I don’t know about the world with all the questions he asks. Things we’ve talked about in the past 24 hours:

  • whether or not robots live in outer space
  • why robots don’t “live”
  • why some robots don’t have faces
  • why trains don’t need steering wheels (this was upsetting)
  • why large cats with sharp teeth eat meat and what exactly meat is (also upsetting, but not as much as not steering trains, partially because he doesn’t believe me about the meat)
  • why a T. Rex eats “real meat” and why that may or may not be made from animals (this was a heated discussion)
  • why an hour is 60 minutes and why a minute is 60 seconds and how long that all takes exactly
  • why the dashboard of my car tells me how much gas we are using
  • why some cars use a lot of gas
  • why using too much gas is bad for the planets like Earth
  • why Gyroscope’s birthday comes before his, even though Gyroscope is younger

Well, I think there was more, but you get the picture. Plus, to say we are obsessed with the Wizard of Oz is a huge understatement. We are coming up on the one year anniversary of that obsession, so that will be a good 25% of his life. So that’s the reasoning behind that one.

Gyroscope: Gyroscope, who is almost one, hasn’t stopped moving since he entered our lives, which he did as quickly as he does everything else (a mere 3 hours after announcing his intentions and a short 30 minutes after we crawled (he and I, that is) into the hospital). Favorite activities include: playing with anything the The Wizard of Why is currently playing with, crawling on the dining room table, standing on his head in a downward dog position.

So–even if you don’t have a blog, what would be your blog names for your family?

January 27, 2012

When the bananas are screaming

Welcome to the first edition of The Family that EATS Together Fridays, which will focus on recipes you can make and eat with the kids.

It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like banana bread. It’s even harder to find someone who doesn’t like banana bread with chocolate in it. And it’s almost impossible to find a family that doesn’t, at least occasionally, forget to eat all the bananas before they turn that wonderful color of brownish black that screams “time to make the muffins!”

Here’s what my 3yo and I did a few days ago, when the baby was asleep and we heard the bananas screaming.

First, we printed out my absolute favoritest banana bread recipe. It is SO banana-y. (And to my mother-in-law, who accounts for about 2% of my subscribers, I love yours, too.) 🙂 You can find it by searching for Tyler Florence and banana bread.

Then we got out the muffin pan, because no matter how many recipes I have tried, I have NEVER made a loaf of banana bread that was perfect. It is SO hard to get the inside cooked before the outside is too brown. I solve that problem by making muffins, which are cuter anyway.

Then we followed Tyler’s directions, with a few exceptions. One, I used whole wheat pastry flour. Whole wheat pastry flour is my new true love. I use it almost exclusively now, and find that, with the exception of really delicate recipes like crepes (which I think it makes too bland), it is completely interchangeable for white flour. Two, I used coconut oil instead of butter. Why? Well, I thought banana-coconut was a good combo, although the coconut flavor didn’t come through too much. But also because I’ve started cooking a lot more with coconut oil. True, it’s a saturated fat, but it is made up of medium chain fatty acids, which people are realizing might help in certain areas like heart disease, and might also help raise the good kind of cholesterol. There are also claims that it helps with a myriad other things, including weight loss. It’s also a great moisturizer for skin and hair (and one of the only things I use on my own skin and hair–I just keep a jar in the bathroom!). Three, I used half sugar and half honey. If your bananas are really sweet, you can cut down on the sugar, but while mine were definitely overripe, they didn’t smell ubersweet, so I used a half cup of sugar and about a third a cup of honey. (He says to use a cup of sugar, but that’s crazy talk.)

Then we mixed. It’s a great recipe for a 3yo: he loved mashing the bananas with a potato masher. He always loves a recipe that involves turning on the mixer. (This one has you wisk two bananas with sugar and mash two others, so you get a nice combo of taste and texture running through the muffins.) We poured in the flour (this is much less messy at almost-four than it was at almost-three, I’m happy to say). And we added chocolate chips, even though these were not, strictly speaking, in the recipe. But I add chocolate chips to almost anything I’m making.
My husband likes these best plain. My son likes them best with chocolate chips. I like them best with chocolate chips and nuts. So sometimes I separate the batter at the end and make three different ones before baking. I like to use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin pans–it’s easy and almost mess-free. (Nothing is completely mess-free with a 3yo is doing it, but that’s kind of the point.)

P.S. Since these are muffins, not a loaf, you will need to shorten the baking time considerably. I set the timer for 30 minutes the first time around and that worked great. You might want to try 25 minutes and check them, then put them in for another 5 or 10 depending on how you like them. You can stick a fork in the middle to see if the inside is done.

I hope you enjoy the recipe, and if you try it, let me know what you think. Do you have a favorite recipe you like to make with your kids?

September 22, 2011

chocolate spoons and red leaves

I do have so many books to write about, and that’s coming I promise! But before I get to that, I’m blogging about licking the spoon and enjoying the seasons at Nashville Parent. Catch me there and please share your own thoughts on enjoying the fall and cooking with your kids!

July 23, 2011

Just stand back and let them do it

Today I’m blogging about giving kids responsibility over at Nashville Parent. Check it out!

June 14, 2011

Self-esteem boosting hip hop at the dinner table? Better than the kale, apparently.

Well, it isn’t a book, but this hip hip album, Easy, by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and his musical family is sure to teach my toddler a lot about words, rhymes, and lyrics as he learns to sing along.  This is a kids’ CD that won’t make you want to drive your car off the road.  In fact, I’ve been known to start bouncing in the driver’s seat when we play it, even if we’re on the tenth replay of “The Last Dragon” in a row.  Which has happened.  We are VERY into dragons at my house.

Here is one of my favorite rhymes:

he made a funny face
and asked if dragons really
went into space
he thought that it sounded
a little bit STRANGE
but since he met a dragon
what was STRANGE had CHANGED

Anyway, as you can hopefully tell from these lines, this is great stuff.

I knew it was a great buy when my three year-old started this call and response at the dinner table last night:

3YO: Whatchya gotta be?

Me: I gotta be me!!

3YO: Whatchya gotta be?

Me: I gotta be me!

This went on for awhile.  Dad joined in.  It got silly.  (Whatchya gotta be? I gotta be a … tablecloth! hysterical laughter. repeat.)

Great night, even if he did spit out the kale I put on top of the pizza.  Highly recommend this CD.

Search for them on your favorite online music store (is there more than one?) or check out their website:

May 23, 2011

Winner of Lily Hates Goodbyes

Congratulations Romelle!  You won a great picture book, Lily Hates Goodbyes!  I’ll be contacting you shortly to find out where to send it!


February 22, 2011

There’s smart, there’s “Beyond Smart”, and then there’s my mother-in-law

When I tell people about this book, or about the author’s columns in ParentMap (a Pacific Northwest Parenting Magazine), or about the author’s appearance on TV, and then I mention that the author is my mother-in-law, they often ask me the same question, and with the same inflection.  It goes like this:

“Really? That’s so neat!” pause “So, what’s it like to have a mother-in-law who is a parenting expert?” smirk

Every time.  First, they are impressed.  Then, they think about their own mother-in-laws and aren’t sure if they would want those opinions backed by the title “parenting expert”.  But it’s not like that.  I have the good fortune to have a mom-in-law who is capable of having different opinions about how kids are raised without beating me over the head with them, even as she watches me ruin her grandchild in various different ways.  But really, most of the time we agree.

Although, I do often reply that part of me wishes her columns could save some space for the daughter-in-law’s rebuttal…I mean, I’m living with the final product, you know?  And no, he doesn’t know how to make the bed.

Title: Beyond Smart
Author: Linda Morgan
Genre: Parenting

Summary and Review:

Here’s my pet peeve about a lot of parenting books (not this one).  They are written by PhDs with something to say, usually one thing that’s very specific.  These people are used to writing long dissertations on a single subject and they seem to think that that’s the kind of thing everyone wants to read. But they are wrong.  Most of the parenting books I pick up should be parenting chapters.  They are one idea and you can get most of the information from skimming the back cover, and by the time you are done with the intro chapter, you’ve learned 90% of what you are going to learn, but then you dutifully slog through another 200 pages of evidence, personal stories, and sidebars, all of which, you realize when you get to the end (or much sooner if you are paying any attention), is the same as what you learned in the intro chapter.  There are some parenting books out there where I really don’t think you need to read much more than the title.  Things like “saying no” or “setting limits” are right there in the title and you’ve learned most of what you are going to learn and you haven’t even flipped it over to read the back.

Which brings me to this book.  This book is not written by a PhD with a dissertation on her mind.  It’s written by an experienced, award-winning journalist with access to PhDs and the talent to translate what they are saying down to a few pages that you actually want to read.  It’s not a book you are done with in the introduction–the introduction just whets your appetite for the diverse and meaningful middle parts.  The book is about how parents can make a difference in their child’s learning, and it takes a really broad approach to this.  We’re not just talking raising grades here.  We’re talking emotional intelligence, temperament, brainpower, risk-taking, and a heck of a lot more.

Also, the book includes Q and A’s with really famous experts in a variety of fields: Alice Waters talks about teaching your kids about food, giving even more insight to a chapter on preparing lunches and breakfasts as part of being ready for kindergarten.  Wendy Mogel, PhD, (I’ve already blogged on one of her books here) talks about dealing with failures and the dangers of over-coddling in a chapter about dealing with a wide variety of school issues, including failure.  Michael Thompson, PhD, (I’ve blogged on one of his books, too) talks about the differences between boys and girls in a chapter on social issues.  And there’s a lot more–both chapter-wise and expert-wise.

Other topics included in this book are developing a parenting plan and becoming your child’s emotional coach from birth, dealing with the child-centered toddler years, advocating for your child during the school years, keeping up with math and science, writing, and public speaking, and getting the most out of a summer vacation.

I loved this book because it covers a wide variety of topics, it’s short and sweet, and it gives you a wide variety of opinions, not just one.  If you find yourself really interested in one of the topics, or one of the expert’s opinions, you can always go and find another book on that topic.  But this is a phenomenal place to start and a great reference.  It’s easy to pick up and look at after you’ve read it, to refresh on a few ideas because it’s well-organized and topic-centered.  Covering areas of development from birth through high school and issues including emotion, academics, food, and family, this is a must-have parenting book!

And really, bed-making aside, she did a good job with the one I’m married to, so that’s saying something…I always like to check bios on parenting books to see if the author has any kids.  I am VERY suspicious of taking advice from someone who doesn’t…