Building Character

Three years ago I had the amazing opportunity to visit Washington D.C. with two of my girlfriends. We took the time to visit incredible historical sights and museums. One of the most influential and memorable was the Holocaust Museum. I have read many historical fiction novels that take place during the holocaust and have studied it during school however visiting the museum was like nothing else. To see images and artifacts from that horrendous time left such an imprint on my soul.

One of the exhibits that struck me most was walking through a Jewish child’s perspective. We walked through a model house of a Jewish family and experienced the fear and horror through a child’s eye. Leaving the exhibit with tears streaming from my eyes I realized I needed to work with my kids on seeing the world from different perspectives. Aptly placed there was a gift shop outside the door and I was drawn to this incredible book.

Character Building Day by Day

This fantastic book is a filled with 180 short stories broken down into topics based on characteristics. These five minute stories are geared towards elementary school children help kids think outside the box of their own world.  The part that I like best is the discussion questions after each story that prompt discussion about what has been read and experienced. The topics vary from bullying, allergies, disabilities, friendships, and family structure.  For my own boys it’s great to enlighten them to think differently and for ourselves as parents to highlight the morals we want them to know and live by.

In thinking of morals such as The Golden Rule-

Another wonderful book, a bit more simple for the younger crowd is called Do Unto Otters. Yes I did say Otters and no it is not a typo. This cute, funny book goes over what it means to treat others (or otters) how you would want to be treated.

There is a rabbit who worries because a new family is moving in and he isn’t sure about how to live with their differences. This brings me back to visiting the Holocaust Museum and how I want to instill into my children that it is important to always treat people how they would like to be treated. That it is important to have an open mind and realize that we are all different and that kindness trumps all. We need to spend time teaching these important values to our children.

I hope you have the time to check out these two books, smile, be kind and as always…

Happy Reading!

I’m Off the Clock! #FridayFinds

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I love how my boys, (ages 7 and 9) are becoming more independent. This may mean I have more time but for some reason I feel like I have less. It may be just the whole grass is greener on the other side nostalgia creeping in thinking of the days when they napped and went to bed at 7:30 pm. Well now life is filled with school, play-dates, piano lessons, homework, hockey, baseball, soccer, play and reading! One thing that I didn’t realize is that when they get older they don’t sleep as much! SHOCKER. So now bedtime is seeping into my little me time. So I’m sorry my dear little men, but since you’ve pushed your bedtime to 8:30-8:45 and I’m just sitting down for the first time today, I just want to say sorry, I love you but no. I’m off the clock! Yes I’d be happy to be called in for an emergency but if it isn’t, sorry I am just saying you can do it yourself.

There seems to be a string of never ending requests that happen once I finally sit down-

Mom this isn’t where I was on my audio book- I need you to keep pressing forward and back until we find the exact right spot. Oh, I forgot I already finished this book and need a new CD.

Mom I need some water, Oh I see it, but Mom I can’t reach it, can you get it.

Mom can you read just one more book?

Mom I can’t sleep, what should I do?

Mom my blanket fell off, can you tuck me in again?

I’m tired and need to say, sorry, unless something is seriously wrong if you need anything you’ll have to ask prior to 8:30.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, I want to do all that I can for them. But man, it’s hard working and being Mom.

Would I change it, not for the world. Sometimes I am simply reminded how difficult parenting is and how much patience is needed. So this week, my #FridayFind is the lack of patience I often experience parenting while I’m running on empty.

I would love to hear your strategies on staying sane when you’re running low on patience.

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Exploring the Differences in Families Today

This week I had the amazing opportunity to take part of an adoption hearing for a family that I work with. This has been a long journey for these two moms and to be able to see the joy on their faces when the judge proclaimed the new shared last name and all the official rights of adoption.

Now, I come from a family made up of a mother and a father, I also am married to a man and have two incredible sons. My community, small and rural, is made up of many heterosexual couples. This is not the case everywhere- the world is changing and the family structure is growing more diverse. I know quite a few grandmothers who have taken on the primary caretaker role, even a few great grand parents taking on this as well. I have some great friends who their families are made up of two moms or two dads. I recognize many people feel passionate about this and here’s what I think… Love Makes a Family.

Love Makes A Family

As with everything, literature can help children become more aware of diversity. As I sat in the courtroom this week watching this incredible family I realized my children don’t have as much exposure to same sex parenting. So what did I do… looked up some books! I found this great article in Parents Magazine that highlights some great books.

Children’s Books with Same Sex Parents

I love how the author shares that you don’t need to explain the mechanics of same sex parenting but to show children doing kids things with their family. She writes:

“One of the nice things about kids’ books is that they build self-confidence by normalizing children’s experiences. Just as children with heterosexual parents read books that mirror their families without making the parents’ relationship the focus of the book, children of same-sex parents benefit from reading books that feature families like theirs. But, of course, kids’ favorite books are centered on a topic that toddlers care about almost exclusively: themselves!”
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So here are some great books to check out-

The Family Book: by Todd Parr (I LOVE Todd Parr’s books!)

King and King by: Linda de Hann & Stern Nijland

The Different Dragon: by Jennifer Bryon

No matter what your own family structure is it is important to share with your children that not all families are alike. These are just a few picture books for elementary aged children that can highlight that not all families are made up of a mom and a dad.

Happy Reading!

 

The Sparkle of Nature

This morning I woke to the sun shining on the beautiful dusting of snow. I laced up my boots, leashed up my dogs and headed out in the brisk air for a walk in the woods. There is nothing more peaceful thank a quiet early morning walk in the woods. We were the first on the trails and our footprints danced in the new fallen snow. As the sun shined down on us it seemed as if it touched and brought out the natural glitter of each individual snowflake. There is something completely majestic about being the first to lay footprints in the new fallen snow. I simply had to pause, open my eyes and breathe in the beauty.

Sometimes I become stuck on the daily grind of being a worker, wife and mother. The hustle and bustle of a long commute, feeding a family and keeping up with the never ending list of chores. During the week I find it increasingly difficult to stop and ponder the beauty around me.

Sometimes it takes a message from nature, such as the natural sparkle in the snow, the way the sun shines on your face, the cold refreshing air that wakens your senses. It reminds me to take the time to unplug, get outside, breathe, look around, and be thankful for all the beauty in my life.

Calling all hockey players

Hello hockey fans! I don’t know about you but if you have a little one playing this great sport it truly becomes a way if life! (At least November to March) My youngest Keegan, age 7, decided to move up from the house team/learn to skate program and joined a travelling team this season.

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Isn’t he cute?

Along with his teammates, he is loving getting out on the ice and playing around.
Recently the coach has started to introduce and implement the rules of the game. My husband and I, not being hockey players ourselves, quickly looked to the Internet to educate ourselves so we could support this important aspect of the game. Of course, those who know me know (in addition to googling) I went to scope out the library. Here are some great picture books I found. (Click the title for amazon links)

The Illustrated Roles of Ice Hockey

Z if for Zamboni

Ice Hockey and Curling

 

These three have been really good not only for the great pictures and illustrations but they really give a deeper knowledge of the many aspects to the sport of Hockey. So for any beginner or young hockey player these would be a must.I hope everyone is enjoying winter and as always…

Happy Reading!

The Race for President

In New Hampshire we are only two days away from the presidential primary election. There is so much buzz, excitement, and a bit of frustration going around. Commercials, mailings and phone calls inundate our homes. It’s not easy to get away from politics during an election year. When we may become frustrated with the abundance of ads it is a great opportunity to teach our children about the political process.

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I cannot believe how much our children pick up from political commercials. Sadly, in my opinion, there is a lot of bashing and negative talk. I was taken back one day when my eldest son (age 9) said “I don’t think it’s time for a woman to be president.” No matter what your opinion is it’s important to take the time to help out kids understand a bit more about the process. On a funny note we were watching one of the coffee shop talks with all the candidates and one began talking about his views on illegal aliens and my son pipes up, “Why would anyone vote for him, he believes in aliens!”

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So, how do we begin this important yet delicate topic…. with books of course!

There are a great many books about each of our presidents and here are a few of my favorites.

So You Want to Be President

This is one we love in our house. It highlights some fun, silly, and historical information on each of our presidents up to our current Barack Obama. It provides a fun way to learn about who each president is, what some of the things they brought to our country and what a difficult job it is to become president. My boys love when we get to the part about John Quincy Adams was skinny dipping and a newspaper reporter stole his clothes and wouldn’t give them back until he did an interview.

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Another book for a bit of a younger group would be-

Duck for President

This is a cute story of a duck who isn’t happy with his role in the farm and decides that he could do a better job running the place. He decides to hold a campaign to overthrow Farmer Brown and involved all the farm animals in the electoral process.

And for the youngest reader here is a colorful board book that will help start your discussion on the presidency.

This Little President: A Presidential Primer

So no matter what your political beliefs it is important to start your children young learning about our country’s political background and what all of this fuss is about during the busy election season.

 

Happy Reading!

For the Worrier

Fear of the unknown. Worrying over what may happen. Imagining things happening. Simply just not feeling comfortable with what could be.

These are all real fears that can inhibit many happy kids. My eldest son is one of them. He is a worrier and is prone to imagining the worst. He worries about being lost, being alone, and that something may happen to our family. Small daily things like going to the store, riding in an airplane, enrolling in summer camp, or even just taking the bus can cause so much stress.

We talk a lot in our house, we work really hard to instill security and confidence in our boys. Throughout the years I have come across some fantastic books that help explore some common worries. Here are a few of the ones that were really helpful for us:

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Don’t Forget to Come Back is about a girl who’s parents are going out for the night and leaving her with a babysitter. The girl comes up with so many reason for them not to leave her. The story continues with a fantastic babysitter who helps the girl pass the time and have so much time that she doesn’t have to be so worried.

Wilma Jean the Worry Machine is a great book that takes a look at what worries can do to a person and what kids can do about it. The story develops and explores ways that worries can be addressed and with the help of her teacher Wilma Jean can separate what things she has control over and what she doesn’t. They create ideas of things that she can do when she starts to feel overwhelmed with worry.

Both of these stories really resonated with my worrier and he would definitely recommend them to anyone that struggles with and can be overwhelmed with worries.