Monday, December 15, 2008
I run Little Alouette, LLC but Joe also has a contracting business to run and lately we have been less than chilled out and calm. It really has been crazy round here. I think the most upsetting thing is the lack of family time. We have always had a good balance of work and family life even when I worked a rather stressful career path prior to our second son being born. We have done so well until this year. Life much like everything is a steep learning curve and we are dangling precariously from the curve right now.
I just wanted to put it out there to the universe and other small business owners…how do you it?
What are some good ideas for being able to separate work and life?
And the holidays!!!I don't know about you but I am LOVING Simplemom's Holiday Guide THIS ROCKS and reminds us to look around and KNOW what is important.
I am trying to get my TO DO list ticked off so the evenings can really be free.
I am Saying NO more. (really try it is is liberating)
I am doing less Martha Flipping Stewart crafts and decor and stress this year.
I am sending NEW YEARS cards for the first time.
I am not cleaning my house like a maniac this month.
I am feeling obligated. My kids will only be almost two and 4.5 years old NOW.
I am also trying to kiss my husband passionately as much as possible.
If I go over the edge I can reach out the these folks
or call my mom.
PBN is a good resource to for me. They are all crazy mamas too. I will just email them and we can all rock back and forth while we glue cotton balls on red construction paper together.
Friday, November 14, 2008
I wanted to chat about about handmade presents and such that kids can make for the holidays. Last year we made soft trees and felt birds and they turned out great! This year we will make the kids blocks from our shop and let them paint them for friends and family. We also plan on making calendars too! It is always fun to create with my kids, but sometimes it makes me a bit nuts I cannot lie. My trick is to have few glasses of wine on Holiday Crafting night. It works!
I hope you take the time this season to create and give from the hand and heart! xo
Check out this special offer from Klutz - free shipping and a free copy of the award-winning Activity Book (a $14.95 value) when you order $50+ via this link. Just click it! And feel free to share it with your readers too - the more, the merrier!
Monday, November 10, 2008
The Parent Bloggers Network sent me three amazing books to review!
The three holiday books from Positive Spin Press are fabulous! There were three books to review: All Hallows Eve The Story of the Halloween Fairy, Christmas Eve The Joy of Giving, and Winters Eve Love and Lights by Lisa Sferlazza Johnson.
I sat down and read All Hallows Eve first with the boys as it was a few days before Halloween and I was hoping there would be something more than candy to think about! I was so pleased with the character Eve. She was delightful and kind and good and just what we needed during a rocky month. I try and fill my children up with good when they are being naughty. Don't you? Eve provides a wonderful alternative to scary Halloween with her toy making and I also liked the idea of celebrating other things instead of just candy candy candy! It is an adorable and engaging story. My 4 year old loved it and had to read it about ten times!
We all enjoyed the Christmas Eve book as well. I liked the message in the book of celebrating more than the Christian view of the holiday season and the idea of giving thanks. When I choose books that deal or touch upon religion for my children I like it very much when more than one view is represented. These books do this in a light and happy tone. The third book Winters Eve which talks about winter light festivals including Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the Chinese New Year was a bit over my 4 year old's head. He loved the pictures and when I stopped and explained and chatted about ideas then he seemed interested, but I think it is geared a bit more for the K-4 age group.
The author Lisa Sferlazza Johnson and illustrator Tucker Johnson have created a wonderful series within the small character of Eve. She is appealing to families that like options with the somewhat dogmatic Holiday season. I will buy more of these titles to teach my children to look beyond their home for what makes the world go round! Great books! You can purchase these books at amazon.com and check this out: PBN is giving away three copies of each book! Go find out how to win!
Friday, November 7, 2008
It is all about the food. I watched in horror as my family ate dry turkey the first year the family dinner was in my home. You could tell they were trying in vain to drown it in gravy to resuscitate it. Agh! I should have called Butterball!
This year I am going to call. I hear you can chat this year with some famous bloggers who must have moist and succulent breasts coming out of their own kitchens. Call 1-800-BUTTERBALL to virtually talk turkey with their holiday meal preparation experts, or visit Butterball.com for Web chats with a few bloggers we all know and love - Chris Jordan (Notes from the Trenches), Susan Wagner (Friday Playdate), and Roxanna (Miguelina) on November 11, 18 and 25 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. CST. They'll answer all your turkey related questions.
I love PBN for giving me cool options like this!
So- Where do I start with the perfect menu? Any suggestions?
This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by Butterball.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I work from home and most of my work is online. I like to be able to take a walk around my house, chat with a friend, or disengage and hang out with my family when I need a break- but sometimes I just need to open a new browser and veg out with some eye candy window shopping or a few games of solitaire. I need to not think for a few times a day. It is why we read shallow magazines or watch reality TV right? Just mindless resting really.
I signed up to check out and do a paid review for Games.com
over at Blogher and found myself quite sucked into the online gaming community. The games are pretty simple and have tutorials and I love that you can just jump right in as a guest and not have to sign up for some handle and password that you will soon forget anyhow. I swear, I spend half my life online typing out a myriad of passwords or proving to someone that I am not a robot. I digress.
I tried out card and casino type games and I discovered that I like single player games better than the community game set- up because I get sweaty pits and nervous stomach if I appear ignorant in the forum. How dumb is this as I am anonymous!? I was so nervous to play Spades that I had to study the tutorial like a test would be given. I did have fun with the Hearts game and even beat a few folks with obvious beginners luck. I loved solitaire, poker, and I did get sucked into Bingo although it was a bit campy with the old cartoon dude calling and even a chat room to chat and play? I don't know about chatting with the strangers in the online Bingo hall. Who has time to chat and search their BINGO cards? Whatever floats yr boat I guess.
I think the best part of these games are that they really take yr mind off the issues you might be dealing with and recharge you for a moment. They might even stimulate yr grey matter. I am a big game and puzzle believer. My gran is 88 years old and smart as a tack because she blows through like three puzzle and crossword books a week. She keeps sharp. Use it or lose it they say. I like the mindlessness best though, I like to escape from my work for a bit.
Don't we all? The problem with some of the games was I think I could get sucked in for quite a chunk of time. I was going nuts for poker and pretending that I was actually making that money. I was getting all kinds of depressed at the the reality of not really winning that two thousand dollars in slots.
I think Solitaire is my game. It makes me think a bit yet is not so seductive that I would pilfer too much time away from writing or my small business. I will pop in and out of games.com for a quick break every now and again. I might even play Gin rummy with ya if you ask.
Check out this roundup at Blogher!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
It is funny how they cannot keep still for long before the jumping resumes. I bought books and got DVDs out of the library about monkeys for them because it is uncanny how my home seems like a jungle sometimes. I tried to show them that even monkeys sometimes sit around quietly and pick dirt and groom one another. I tell them monkey's nap and monkeys relax. My monkey boys just laugh and bounce up and down on the couch.
Since they love animals these little guys I thought we might try this:
Parent Bloggers network has teamed up with Generation Next this week to announce their brand-new product - iKnow Animals, Letters & Sounds. I love how this media kit looks like a great mix of graphics, gorgeous tunes, and fun video to promote literacy and keep children mindful of the animal world and our planet. I really want this. I also really want a zookeeper some days.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
The kind folks at Scott Common Sense Community have offered up a years supply of bath and towel tissue to my readers who check out the Scott Common Sense Community!
(Approximate Retail Value - $144)
FREE TOILET PAPER RULES!
All you need to do it go over to this cool new site and check out all the tips and leave a comment about something on the site that seemed interesting or cool to you. I encourage you to dig a round a bit bc I actually found quite a few tips there. It is an interactive site that wants you to leave yr best tips and tricks too. Yay come on- this is what we do all day long. We share information over the blogosphere...right?
I will close the give away Tuesday at 10pm.
It is 1987, and Julian Wainwright, aspiring writer and Waspy son of New York City old money, meets beautiful, Jewish Mia Mendelsohn in the laundry room at Graymont College. So begins a love affair that, spurred on by family tragedy, will take Julian and Mia across the country and back, through several college towns, spanning twenty years.
From the moment he was born, Julian Wainwright has lived a life of Waspy privilege. The son of a Yale-educated investment banker, he grew up in a huge apartment on Sutton Place, high above the East River, and attended a tony Manhattan private school. Yet, more than anything, he wants to get out--out from under his parents' influence, off to Graymont College, in western Massachusetts, where he hopes to become a writer.
When he arrives, in the fall of 1986, Julian meets Carter Heinz, a scholarship student from California with whom he develops a strong but ambivalent friendship. Carter's mother, desperate to save money for his college education, used to buy him reversible clothing, figuring she was getting two items for the price of one. Now, spending time with Julian, Carter seethes with resentment. He swears he will grow up to be wealthy--wealthier, even, than Julian himself.
Then, one day, flipping through the college facebook, Julian and Carter see a photo of Mia Mendelsohn. Mia from Montreal, they call her. Beautiful, Jewish, the daughter of a physics professor at McGill, Mia is--Julian and Carter agree--dreamy, urbane, stylish, refined.
But Julian gets to Mia first, meeting her by chance in the college laundry room. Soon they begin a love affair that--spurred on by family tragedy--will carry them to graduation and beyond, taking them through several college towns, spanning twenty years. But when Carter reappears, working for an Internet company in California, he throws everyone's life into turmoil: Julian's, Mia's, his own.
Starting at the height of the Reagan era and ending in the new millennium, Matrimony is about love and friendship, about money and ambition, desire and tensions of faith. It asks what happens to a marriage when it is confronted by betrayal and the specter of mortality. What happens when people marry younger than they'd expected? Can love endure the passing of time?In its emotional honesty, its luminous prose, its generosity and wry wit, Matrimony is a beautifully detailed portrait of what it means to share a life with someone--to do so when you're young, and to try again, afresh, on the brink of middle age.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I was excited to review this book because I worked in the education system for a long time and found it very frustrating finding books that boys would want to read. I have always been a bookworm and was relentless in seeking out "beyond the Potter" as I called it for my male readers. I worked hard to show my male students that reading could be pleasure and it could be a wonderful escape. I tried to recommend lots of genres and authors to them, yet often felt guilty because just until recently rarely ventured into the trade/mass publications and fiction bestseller lists myself. I was a canon snob, a voracious reader of the classics and up and coming creative nonfiction and poetry. I just hadn't let myself fall right into book club mania or Barnes&Noble list of what's hot. I had never read James Patterson and was interested in reading something as many friends loved his work.
I loved The Dangerous Days of Daniel X! The book is very well set up for a young reader with super short chapters that can be a great aid in allowing readers to feel like they are "doing well" and reading a book quickly. In my experience, reluctant readers need this as they start to pleasure read so as they do not get lost or bogged down with the feeling of "never being able to finish" a chapter. Readers cultivate the craft of reading and through quick paced YA novels like this one they gain the confidence that they are good readers.
Daniel X is a pretty amazing and sad little dude. It felt like the weight of the world was on his shoulders as he set off to seek revenge upon his slain family. A boy who is gifted with super powers goes out on this amazing archetypal quest for revenge and vision quest. The journey is cool and imaginative. His character is so very likable and the writing is quick and speedy enough to keep the interest easily. I like the way that Daniel can conjure up people when he needs them and his shape shifting abilities are awesome and no doubt very appealing to kids. Daniel X who is stronger than a typical human, and wicked smart has problems when up against the list aliens who are vastly more superior even to him- but in the novel he shows the reader how he taps into his intellect to solve problems- not a bad lesson to be learned here.
The only issue I had with the book was the pop culture references and this is most likely because I am an old lady. I know it is hip and cool and a nice "buy in" for the young readers to be able to relate to these references, but I feel like it may date the books if they are to become an iconic series. It was really my only beef with this gem.
My husband who is a Sci-Fi reader himself adored the book too. We sat and chatted about how no matter what adults or Patterson fans might say-we loved the book for what it is. A new series of books that may do something to bring the kids back to the paper. To bring the noses into a new world, a world where they can believe again.
Book website here
Mothertalk review here
Amazon page here
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Kiss Kiss xx
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I like to create a passport for the kids during weeks that study other countries.
In previous summer school days I would take a piece of card stock and fold it in half and glue a photo of the child on front. I would make spaces in the inside for "stamping" each country as they took a visit. It was a nice daily routine for World week.
(Read Frommers travel guides and this too
Fable- Finn M'Coul (The giant of knockmany hill book by Tomie De Paola)
Craft -Make Christmas Crackers!
Snack- High Tea! Serve tea and bisquits (cookies)
( Read Frommers and we like these books: A Family from Japan by Julia Waterlow and National Geographic Japan)
Fable: The Star Festival
craft: Poetry Strips
Snack- Sushi oh yeah! Visit to a sushi restaurant or grab some sushi from the grocery for a treat.
(Frommers and this one)
Fable: ( I love Indian Tales a Barefoot collection by Shenaaz Nanji!) many to choose
Snack: nan bread! Make yr own- check out this great post about nan!
Frommers and When the World Began by Elizabeth Laird
Fable: Anansi is great here- check the library for tons of books!
Craft: Batik -check this out
Snack: Make Injera ( sponge bread)
Frommer and A Visit to Greece by Connie Roop and Welcome to Greece by Meredith Costain
Fable: Mythology all the way here! Get some ideas here and here
Craft: Evil eyes! Make some evil eyes and hang from the windows
Snack: Yumm! Make A Greek Village Salad
I also like to have a welcome home party! Celebrate what is cool about yr state/town/country on Friday at dinner time! :)
Don't forget to wake yr child up each morning and say Welcome to ______
Learn a phrase each day of the language!!!
Friday, June 6, 2008
The book and it's design with two parts (one for "Trying to Conceive" and one for "Fertility Treatments") has covered most topics that my friend has been dealing with or thinking about as a woman trying to become pregnant for over a year.. The first part is broken down into 12 monthly sections and has basic and necessary information with a small box for each day where you can write down your cycle day, medications, vitamins, and your BBT and other facts. She liked the tracking and journaling space provided. In the latter half of the book we thought that the sections for IVF could be longer and have more spaces as most of the friends we know took more than two treatments to become pregnant or cease treatment. It felt that the latter half of the book was strongly assuming that the next step for all women was IVF. My friend is exploring acupuncture and other alternative methods as she is healthy and so is her husband and it is just taking longer than expected. She did not talk much about the IVF treatments section as I think that she feels like this is the final frontier to most women in this situation. Many women might not be able to afford to pay the high costs of or even those who might not want to "pay" the emotional costs of IVF treatments may find this section of the book hard to read.
This journal is full of great knowledge and is presented in a modern and smart way. I will be giving this as a gift to friends and I know that any woman could benefit from information in this journal. The great thing about this book is it is the real deal and does not sugar coat the facts of life. It announces that getting pregnant is not simple for all woman and it should be looked at as a type of health and knowledge mission. This author is true to science and reality as the book urges you to think and unlike other books on the market, it will arm you with facts and not just the hope.I think that perhaps the publishers might want to think about a companion journal for the women struggling with infertility longer than a year and explore deeper the issues they face. I think this author would be able to talk frankly and yet with compassion and insight to women. My friend is using The Fertility Journal daily now and loves it. Check out Mother-Talk for more reviews!!!
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Check out insects.org and insectworld.com. These books here and here are helpful!
Get some large sheets of drawing paper and brainstorm with yr kids about bugs and critters. I am going to talk about bugs and worms and insects and all sorts to my kid. Read some books together and plan yr bug adventure. Talk about vocabulary words like exoskeleton, invertebrate, and molted.
I like to have the kids help assemble a discovery kit. A discovery kit is a net, a magnifying glass, a glass jar with holes in top, a notebook, and some crayons or colored pencils. It can be as spartan and thrifty or as elaborate as you like. I like a nice safari hat to get into the mood myself :)
*Simple lesson is to talk about bug classification and choose some of the type of bugs you want to learn about for the week. Classification is something that is good for them to hear and explore as they will do so in school. Make a small chart and color it.
(each day use yr notebook to journal about bugs)
Ants are easy to find outside and a good non threatening insect to begin yr week. You can talk about the three body parts of the ant today. ( head, thorax, and abdomen)
*A great art and science lesson is to construct an ant out of clay and toothpicks and talk about the three distinct body parts that all insects share.
* Have a cootie game? Play it today! talk about parts!
Metamorphosis is a simple and fun lesson. I am going to make a wheel of metamorphosis out of cardboard (cut two identical circles from a cereal box and use the blank sides- take an xacto knife (don't ya just love any excuse to get it out?) and cut a two inch square on the top circle near the edge. Attached the circles together with a paper fastener or a fancy brad if your a scrapper. Place simple drawings of a butterfly metamorphosis on the wheel and watch the butterfly emerge as you spin the wheel.) ( Like I did here for an emotion wheel)
*A great art activity would be to cut butterfly wings from cardboard!!!!
Kids love to learn about bees and honey!!!
Have some tea and honey and talk about all things buzzy!
Make yr own bee catchers!
make a bug box here ( I love this site!!! free stuff!)
take a bug walk and collect some!!!
****Worms too here if you have time...We vermicompost and love it!
RANDOM BITS...on ebay you can get a ton of cheap insects in glass paperweights and look for Man Vs. Wild at the library for older kids to watch insect as food gross out facts and fun! Also check this out!(http://www.craftsforlearning.com/bugs.htm)
Monday, June 2, 2008
(Also- thanks so much for wanting to hang out with us and do this mini camp- just try and make it yr own...change things...adjust..whatever- just think of this as inspiration platform!!!!)
We are going to go on an observation walk and "take in" the neighborhood. We are going to try and look through new eyes and pretend it is our first time ever walking around there. We are going to talk about what we like and what we think about all that we see.
Our lesson today will be practicing our address and phone number and gently talking about emergencies and 911.
You can make a simple worksheet for the home like the above.(tragic sorry)
We will end the day with a simple lesson on red/yellow/green lights and playing "driving in the yard" with a kids car or a box you decorate. I like to set up a little "Safety Street"(colored masking tape and cones and bowls) and talk to the kids about traffic lights and pedestrians(throw as many big words as you can at yr kids this summer!!!!)and rules of the road.
Allow yr child to go around the "street" set-up and then go back around with them and expand the "look both ways" info to include stop lights, signage, and pedestrians. My K/1/2 class last year played safety town for two hours!
*Art for the day could be sign making from cardboard and letter recognition.
Visit yr local Police and/or Fire Station. All communities will arrange a tour for children if you call and schedule. This field trip can be very educational and exciting for little ones. It is a good day to go over the emergency 911 concept again and talk about how these emergency folks help us.
*Art for the day could be make a fire fighter hat out of newspaper- Here are some firefighter ideas.
*Have some Stop/Drop/Roll exercise together on the lawn
Make a neighborhood of cardboard or clay. Here is a cool link.
Talk about city neighborhoods and rural neighborhoods.
Here are some books about city life.
Here are some books about Farm life.
*Write a story about how yr life would be different if you lived in the city or on a farm!
Arrange in advance to visit a senior center or home in your neighborhood. I always took my classes to one each year as a "random act of kindness" project. Even if yr kids are very young it is a good thing to do for yr own soul. Bring some tea or a veggie tray and some handmade love notes to share. Pack a backpack of books and volunteer to read to the adults. I know that this type of activity gives so much to the elderly who might not have many visitors each week, month, or year and I believe that human connection like this can foster such good for all involved. Children have loved this activity and I am planning our first family visit now. Finn is going to make paper flowers and we are taking some Nancy Drew books down to our local senior center to read. If you are unable to go in person, contacting the activities coordinator of these facilities is good because you can find out about donations might be needed, or where to send a care package of love letters. Here is some great info on a visit like this!
Take another observation walk and talk about what you have learned this week.
Contact a local business (for me it was nearby Starbucks and a hardware store) and inquire if you can take a tour. Children love seeing the "ins and outs" of what makes a business run. Starbucks will allow us to make a drink and be a cashier!!!
*A great art activity for the close of this week is making a map of yr neighborhood. Add landmarks and street, neighbors, stores, safe spots, nature, and anything else that makes yr neighborhood special.
Courtney over at Two Straight Lines had a great camp last year. She has some community ideas here.
Villagemama has a great game for signs and letter recognition on flickr.
I hope you have a great time in yr neighborhood!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I thought this book was going to be fluff. Seriously. I even told my husband that I already knew what it was going to be like. Wrong... I loved this book. Anna Johnson is brilliant. The book is a lovely journey through motherhood with advice, reflection, inspiration, and humor all mixed together in a really readable way. I found that I could relate to the book on many levels as it was not just telling me to be fabulous because I could be, but it was giving me tips and tricks to remembering that person I used to be. It was urging me to recapture my diva in real world ways. Hello- get dressed/pamper yrself regularly and feel better! It is a good gentle reminder of self love. I adored her humor (Cleavage as silencer./People tell you that carrying a baby is sexy, liberating even, and it is hard to believe them. The physical inconvenience and the inflated scale are not images we associate freely with pleasure. But pregnancy is hot, as well as heavy.) I loved her ideas that ranged from breastfeeding to eco friendly lifestyle to home decor. This book has a lot going on and it perfect for a new mummy.
I liked how she wrote in the preface:
“Osho, the Indian mystic, once wrote that when a child is born, a mother is born too."
This is so true. We are born again and must find ourselves.
I think this book holds truths for each kind of mummy. I can see Earthy mums and Manolo mums equally enjoying this as the author has balanced the book well for all of us. I was delighted with her style tips, frankness about most subjects, and her down to earth voice. I think she is probably a fabulous mum to be friends with and we are lucky that she has compiled this mother of coolness for us. I was feeling a bit blah when I read the book and have since picked up a bit more vavavoom. Yay for the Yummy Mummy!!!!!
Check out more info here at Mother-Talk.