Categories
books

Book Review: A Knight in Sticky Armor (Doc McStuffins)

Continuing my new video book review series (or: in an attempt to be fair to my children), here is a review for a book that my daughter, five year old BB, read recently. She would like to tell you more about:

13642690A Knight in Sticky Armor (Disney Junior: Doc McStuffins) by Andrea Posner-Sanchez, Mike Wall(Illustrator)

BB thinks this book is hilarious because every time something touched the sticky part of the titular knight, said thing got stuck to him and it was “really funny.”

Savvy parents will notice that this is a story straight out of the Doc McStuffins tv show series so if you have been forced to watch the series, you probably already know who Doc is and what she’s all about.

For the rest of you, a brief description from Amazon:

Doc McStuffins doesn’t just play with her toys—she heals them! Girls ages 2-5 will love getting to know this super-smart six-year-old doctor with her own backyard clinic. This Little Golden Book is based on the new Disney Junior show, Doc McStuffins.

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for, Miss BB’s review:

In summary: You’re guess is as good as mine.

Have you read this book (or seen the tv show)? What did you think?

Categories
books

Book Review: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

bookreview-geekmomgeekkid

When my son, currently eight years old, requested that I read the first book in The Underland Chronicles, a series by Suzanne Collins (yes, that Suzanne Collins), I couldn’t resist. He has become something of a Fan Boy where this series is concerned and pretty much eats, sleeps and breathes it. A kid after my own heart.

gregor the overlander by suzanne collins
FEELS: liked, good role models, obsessable

Gregor the Overlander tells the story of eleven year old Gregor who  falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building in an attempt to rescue his 2 year old sister, Boots, who had crawled inside.

When I say ‘fall’ I mean they both literally ‘fell’ into another world called The Underland which exists directly below our world. In this world there is no sunlight, no moonlight. No real communication with the upside world, except for the occasional overlander that might fall through – a fall that most wouldn’t survive.

Gregor and Boots luckily do survive, only to meet a host of giant versions of pests and creepy crawlers that would make most grown men tremble. Gregor doesn’t love the huge talking rats, cockroaches, bats and spiders initially – nor the human village that has been thriving in the Underland for years – but thanks to his diplomatic two year old sister, an ancient prophecy and a lot of luck, he finds his courage and goes on an epic adventure to help save the Underland from war and get him and his sister back to his family in New York City.

It was hard to read this book and not be coming at it from a mother’s angle. I was often fretting over whether or not Gregor and Boots would ever get home to their poor mother. I cheered whenever Gregor showed bravery or compassion that was well beyond his years – he is a terrific brother and brave when it counts, without being foolish. I loved Boots (everyone loves Boots) and how she might have been the bravest and most impressive character in the story.

I loved the continual theme of not judging a book by it’s cover, not judging an entire race based off one member (or vice versa), on learning to walk a mile in each other’s shoes and the benefits of diplomacy over brute force. There were a lot of great lessons to be learned in this story and it’s a great introduction to fantasy and adventure for kids.

My eight year old is a pretty advanced reader and the kind of kid that will hide under the covers with a flashlight to read into the wee hours of the night so he tends to finish each book in one or two days. I read for about a half hour at night and finished it in about a week.  There are 5 books in the series that each sell for roughly $5 so it’s a decent bargain but if you have voracious readers, they’ll burn through them quickly. We’ve been letting my son get one a month to make it last a little longer.

At the end of the book there are questions with the author as well as a fun code for learning to speak like Boots and a writing exercise so kids (or adults) can create their own Underlands. I’m definitely going to encourage my son to try that out if he hasn’t already!

What is your child’s favorite book right now?

Categories
family fun

craft love: these dinosaurs are real stand up guys!

dino

We’ve been finding ourselves stuck inside a lot this summer and I was in desperate need of a quick and easy art project to occupy an hour or two of our time. Flipping through the May issue of Disney Family Fun magazine, I saw a cute stand up dinosaur guy that had been painted on cardboard. They have a free printable on their website so you can trace your own dinos – you’ll need an account on parents.com to login and access it but I’m pretty sure they are totally free and it’ll gain you access to lots of different magazines online.

This sounded like a nice easy project so I quickly printed off a few copies (no need to fight over paper stencils!) and cut out each stencil while the kids were eating lunch. Later I set up the stencils, green card stock, scissors and markers and briefly showed them the idea of the project but tried to encourage that they do their own thing with it.

My son, age 7, has a tendency to closely mimic whatever design I am doing during projects like this – so concerned about “doing it right” – in an effort to foster some creativity I made each corner, nook and cranny of my dinosaur a little different from each other (you can see my Stand Up Guy in the bottom to pictures of the collage above). He tried to keep up with me for awhile, but eventually my son also let himself just do his own thing and was really proud of the results (see the two pictures on the right hand side).

Then there’s my daughter – a three year old who absolutely marches to the beat of her own drum. Rather than trace the stencil on the green paper, she began cutting little pieces of green paper and placing them on her stencil in a mosaic style. I was so impressed with her creativity, that I offered her a glue stick which she happily accepted. She really spent most of the project practicing cutting and gluing, which is really a perfect use of our time and I was so proud of her. You can see her results in the big photo of the collage which was a little too floppy to stand but so adorable!

After making our dinosaurs, my son decided to use all of our scrap papers to be food for the dinosaurs to eat and building blocks for a Dinosaur City – no scrap gets unused under his watch! So now, my youngest has worked on some motor skills, both kids have gotten a lesson in creativity and we’re recycling – all for free, basically, as we used supplies we already had on hand.

By the time they were done crafting and playing, dinner was ready!

Disclaimer: Disney Family Fun did not sponsor this post, request it or have any idea that my children like making paper dinosaurs. These thoughts are my own and I am writing about them simply to share the project idea with other tired mommas out there looking for a quick art project fix.

Categories
photography

Bling.

Bling. on 365 Project

My daughter is obsessed with this necklace which belongs to a good friend of ours who always lets her wear it while we meet up for coffee or a walk. The lighting was very much working against me at the coffee shop this morning but I tried to make it look intentional.

I ca’t decide if I like it or if I think it looks over edited – but her cute little face has me leaning towards like. :O)

Categories
memes & carnivals

Aloha Friday: Opinions Please?

It’s time for another Aloha Friday, the day that you take it easy and look forward to the weekend, in Hawaii and blog land anyway. As you should know by now, over at An Island Life, Kailani decided that on Fridays she would take it easy on posting and ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link at An Island Life’s blog. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

So my friend Stephanie has a business idea – and she’s looking for opinions and advice, being new to the world of business – I thought this would be the perfect chance to help her out and get some opinions from her target audience – you (most likely)! Anyway here’s her idea, in her words, edited slightly for clarity…

“Do you think a “mom and me cafe” would take off as a business? It’s a cafe where moms and dads can take their kids to have a cup of coffee with other moms and dads and their kids can play in a safe environment. There would be parent only events at night such as scrap booking nights- and family nights as well… during the day, one day a week, there could be a play group, etc.”

Thoughts/ideas?

Categories
family fun

Aloha Friday: You Put Your Right Arm In…

It’s time for another Aloha Friday, the day that you take it easy and look forward to the weekend, in Hawaii and blog land anyway. As you should know by now, over at An Island Life, Kailani decided that on Fridays she would take it easy on posting and ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link at An Island Life’s blog. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

Lately MM has been very grumpy, irritable, restless. Despite his mother’s contentment with being a homebody, this kid is booooored. He’s bored with the routine and he wants to do something else now – he needs constant distractions. It’s made Dan and I grumpy, irritable and restless, too. The other day I was trying to keep MM preoccupied before bedtime while we waited for Dan – we like to do this bedtime routine together as a family – new diapers, pajamas, a story, all that – I don’t remember what was taking him so long but I do remember that MM was ready to jump ship and do this whole “bedtime thing” another day instead – what kid isn’t? So I’m trying to calm him down, distract him and convince him that bedtime isn’t the devil, when out of nowhere I start doing the hokey pokey. Just because.

I must be a genius or something because MM was immediately enthralled – he wanted to hokey pokey over and over. After about our 4th round of hokey pokey, I switched things up and we did head, shoulders, knees and toes. Another big hit – and I’m left thinking, “Why haven’t we sung these to him yet?” and “What other awesome distraction / song / dances am I forgetting?” Because this stuff is like activity gold – I don’t need to buy anything, grab any tools, or anything – I just have to remember all the dorky song and dance numbers from my youthful past.

So my Aloha Friday questions for you this week are:

  1. (If you are a parent or care provider for a little one) what songs, nursery rhymes etc. do you like to do together?
  2. What is your child’s favorite? What is yours? Feel free to include the words, etc. in case I don’t know them.
  3. Any other distraction tips for my grumpy, irritable, restless little one? I know, I know – I need to take him out more – did I mention I’m hugely 34 weeks pregnant and live on the third floor? I’m trying people!
Categories
motherhood op ed

What Playground Parent Are You?

I will willingly admit that I am a bit of a “helicopter parent” – as the mother of an overly friendly three year old who enjoys talking to strangers and is pretty sure he is unbreakable, I kind of have to be that hovering reminder that “mom is still watching.” And I don’t think he minds – as brave as he is, he also likes to know mom is nearby and often will look me right in the eye before attempting some maneuver that he knows I’m going to yell at him for – maneuvers he maybe doesn’t have any intention of trying but maybe wants to make sure I’m watching? I don’t know. I’m also the mom who – no – will not let my kid walk up the slide, block other kids from going down the slide, steal toys from other kids, or bring totally inappropriate items into a play area.

I bring this up because since moving into our apartment and making three attempts now at bringing MM to the apartment playground I’ve seen a brand new kind of Playground Parent – one I’d never encountered at local parks in Massachusetts – the Parent Who Isn’t Even There. Now I’m not talking about the grade school kids who can probably handle being in a playground by themselves (actually all the school aged kids I’ve seen have come with a parent) – I’m talking preschool children – MM’s age and younger – at the playground, totally alone. No parents. How does this happen? Does the parent just open the door and toss them out? Do they go out unannounced? Is the parent even home? Is anyone home with them?

It’s hard enough for me to deal with the parents at the playground who don’t make any attempt to teach their kids Playground Etiquette or intervene to keep them and others safe – I apparently now have to give those parents credit for being there at all. Because these children – with no parents or caregivers in sight – they are something else. I’ve come across two different children in this apartment complex who come to the playground completely unaccompanied and I swear they cannot possibly be older than four years old – and they are not the kind of children I want my relatively well behaved child hanging out with. Forget climbing up the slide, they do that, sure, but these kids go out of their way to create chaos like I’ve never seen. They are deliberately rude. They bring their snacks to the playground and leave the leftovers and wrappers on the ground when they leave. They shriek at the top of their lungs for no apparent reason except maybe to give pregnant women heart attacks. One little girl even brought a small plastic chair on to the jungle gym and placed it in areas so that it took up all the room on an area, making it so easy for someone to trip and fall – at one point she actually brought this chair onto the top of the playground’s tallest slide and then threw it down the slide while another little boy was still going down – seriously? Am I allowed to say something? Is this socially acceptable? Where the freak are her parents?

Being the doormat that I am, too afraid to yell at a small preschool child who isn’t my own, I simply decided it was time to leave. No, my child will not be playing with you today – it’s time to go home. Am I naive? Is this really considered okay? I know there was a time when our kids could go out and play unwatched – roam the neighborhood and do their thing – but I’m pretty sure they weren’t four years old and I’m pretty sure those days are gone. We know too much – we know that kids get abducted and worse – that crime is out there and while we can’t do everything to protect them, we can surely at least be there. I’m trying to tell myself, whatever, we can still go back again another day. There were other fairly well behaved children, who – go figure – had parents there with them – nice parents even. I wouldn’t mind going back to see them. But it kind of pains me to know that my little boy is going to be influenced by these other children everytime we go there. Because he’s friendly and wants to be friends with all the children there. And then I feel like the world’s biggest jerk for thinking unkind thoughts about a child. I don’t consider myself a judgemental person and maybe I’ll read over this and decide I was over reacting, but at the end of the day, I don’t think I am. I don’t think it’s okay to let preschool children especially play outside unsupervised. It’s not okay.

Categories
books & reading memes & carnivals

Kids Picks: The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day

We decided to pick this book up before our big move, in an effort to get my son ready for it and maybe try to explain to him what moving was. No easy task with a just barely three year old with the attention span of a gnat. Still, he is enjoying this book a lot and I think he might understand it better now than he did before we read the book. There are several books out there with this theme, designed to help kids cope with moving but I liked this one the best – especially because it was a Berenstain Bears book. My husband and I both grew up with this series and can still vividly remember reading them as children. So we always love a chance to share one of our favorites with MM and while we hadn’t read this particular title before, it was just as good and Berenstainy as all the other books.

The book describes how the Bear Family did not always live in their beloved tree house and tells about their first home in a cave on the mountain and how even though they liked their old home, there were some things they did not like and eventually they decided to move. It talks about the concerns Brother Bear had with moving, which I think most kids will share: Where will my toys and books go? Where are we moving? Why do we have to move? What about my friends? The answers are simple and reassuring and the story is charming and well told – basically, it’s a classic Berenstain Bears book. I highly recommend it and I think MM would, too.

Categories
memes & carnivals

Aloha Friday: Fashion Statements

It’s time for another Aloha Friday, the day that you take it easy and look forward to the weekend, in Hawaii and blog land anyway. As you should know by now, over at An Island Life, Kailani decided that on Fridays she would take it easy on posting and ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link at An Island Life’s blog. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

The kiddo got a lot of new clothes for his birthday, which was awesome because he’s starting to outgrow things and we’re still all poor and wouldn’t have done anything about it otherwise. MM loves getting new clothes (maybe not initially along with all the other toy presents) but he really does enjoy picking out his outfits for the day, sometimes in an attempt to get a rise out of me, other times just to exert some form of control. He’s at that fiercely independent stage where he wants a say in what he eats, what color dishes he eats them on, and how he eats it. Likewise with clothes – “No, not that shirt, I want to wear….” For the most part I encourage this – as long as it’s weather appropriate and we aren’t going anywhere special (like church or a family party) I pretty much give him free reign or I’ll give him an option of three or four things and let him pick one. His father encourages this independent behavior even more than I do, which is why lately he’s been coming out of the bedroom looking like this:

Love the top, love the shorts – they are right now probably his favorite two pieces of clothing so together it was like a power suit I’m guessing. I’m proud of his ability to match plaid fabrics, but really? I let it slide until we left the house to go.. somewhere… I can’t even remember and then I blamed the weather and made him change his pants. To be fair, it was pretty cold out.

Anyway, Aloha Friday questions for this week are:

  1. What is your favorite article of clothing or outfit?
  2. What fashion “mistake” to you most cringe at, looking back?
  3. What style do you secretly hope comes back into fashion?
  4. What style do you wish would go OUT of fashion right now?
  5. Would you rock MM’s look (seen above) out in public or allow your children to?