Yes Kids, There Is A Santa Claus! He’ll Even Send You A Letter To Prove It!

Tis the season in our home.  Guess who dropped by and announced he’s staying through the holiday season?  Our Elf On The Shelf, Jelfie!

This is his second year with our family and the kidlets were really excited to see him.  This year he even sent the kidlets a welcome note.  He also let them know how happy he is to be with us once again and that he is under strict orders to report back all that he sees and hears to Santa so he can make accurately make his “Naughty” and “Nice” lists.

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Happy Thanksgiving: A Gratitude List

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  It’s a time for the 3 Fs: family, friends and food. I also love a good parade and I’ve only ever missed seeing one Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade when The Hubs & I were returning from our honeymoon eight years ago!

It is also a day that is devoted to deep thankfulness.  I try to be thankful on a daily basis – for both the big and little things in life, but I know it is easy to take the everyday things for granted, that is until we don’t have them so readily.  I learned that lesson in spades with Hurricane Sandy a few weeks back, with no heat, no hot water or electricity.  It really made me think how fortunate and blessed I am.Continue reading ⇒

Traveling With Kids: The Early Bird Gets The Worm And Other Travel Tips

As my family is getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I’ve been working overtime to make sure that we are prepared for the dreaded holiday travel.  I’m a big fan of vacations, but not so big of a fan of getting there.  Driving in a car or riding on a plane, train or bus with two kidlets under the age of six and several bags of luggage to me is like some un-named type of torture, where only the strongest or most laid-back moms survive.

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Leaf Me Alone….

The last of the leaves have fallen off the trees around my house thanks to Hurricane Sandy’s 90 MPH gusts a few weeks back.  I’m a big fan of autumn leaves on the lawn.  The yard looks like one large leafy crazy quilt in varying shades of red, green and yellow.

My kidlets are also fans of autumn leaves on the lawn, but not for the same reason as I.  They like it because when we rake them all up, they make the perfect leaf pile to jump in.**

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Veterans Day – Operation Goody Bag

Today is Veterans Day and it is an important day to celebrate the service of all American veterans and honor them for their dedicated and loyal service to this country.  We should also take some time to remember and thank those who are currently serving in our military.  They are continuing the tradition of many men and women that came before them, but all with a singular mission, to preserve our rights as a free society and the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

My father is an US Army veteran.  At the age 18 he was drafted during his senior year of high school, was sent to basic training then shipped overseas to serve in the European Theater of World War II.  On Veterans Day I always like to try to do something to commemorate his service, whether it is thanking a veteran/current military personnel, donate blood or take part in a community event.

Earlier today I took part in a Veterans Day volunteer event at work.  It was with a great organization called Operation Goody Bag.

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Kid Lit: What To Read or Not To Read….That Is The Question

Every night we have a ritual in our home. The Hubs and I make sure to read at least one book to our kidlets (usually, it’s a lot more).  Sometimes it’s books they’ve brought home from their weekly trip to our local library or a book from their own collection.  It seems like I’ve read them all the kid lit classics — Dr. Seuss, The Berenstain Bears, Curious George, The Pigeon books and Little Golden Books, just to name a few.

I always love it when one of my kidlets hands me a book, snuggles up to me and demands politely says “read me a story.”   There are some books I’ve read so often that I seem to know them by heart.  I breathe their rhymes, rhythms and repeats.  It’s a joy to see that my kidlets, aged 3 and 5, are starting to recognize them too and read along with me.

The Hubs and I love to read and we hope our kidlets will also be avid readers. We always encourage family to give the kids books instead of toys as gifts.  For my daughter’s birthday a few weeks back, my mother-in-law sent her three books that I’ve just fallen in love with myself.

They are BabyLit board books – a fun way to introduce young children to the classic literature of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll and even Bram Stoker.   I don’t want to mislead you here. These are not real story books, but rather counting and color primer books.  However, they feature key elements from these classic stories combined with some simple text, that introduces young children to the characters, imagery and bit of the story they can understand.

A page from the Little Master Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet counting primer book

My daughter was given Little Master Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Little Miss Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and Little Miss Bronte’s Jayne Eyre for her birthday from her Granny B, she herself had seen them in a magazine and thought they were cute.

A Page from the Little Miss Bronte’s Jayne Eyre counting primer book

These small, compact un-rippable board books (a plus with little ones) feature gorgeous illustrations, wonderful colors and clever literary touches that made me smile.   I love how the colors used in these books actually communicate the moods of characters.   My daughter doesn’t bring just one of these books over to me to read with her, she brings all three with her because she likes them so much.

A page from Little Miss Austen’s Pride & Prejudice counting primer book

There aren’t too many books in this collection.  There’s a Little Master Stoker’s Dracula which would have been perfect for Halloween last week.  I see that there is a Little Master Dickens A Christmas Carol that maybe our Elf On The Shelf might leave for my kidlets one night during his upcoming holiday stay.   I hope that BabyLit will expand this series and expand to more classic literature and maybe tackle sounds, rhymes and even sentences.   Anything that encourages young people to read, I’m all for it!

Now it’s your turn to share.  What books do you like to read to your children?

After The Storm…

This is a familiar sight in my neighborhood since Hurricane Sandy blew in last week.

My family is very fortunate.   No one in my family was hurt, no trees slammed into our home and there was no water in our basement.   We were without power and hot water for five very cold days, but unlike many others along the Jersey coast, lower Manhattan, Long Island, Staten Island and even Connecticut – we are lucky that we still have a home.Continue reading ⇒